Mendocino County, located on the coast of Northern California, is getting a lot of attention for a new practice implemented by its new District Attorney to deal with residents illegally growing marijuana. People charged with marijuana cultivation, a felony, can reduce their charge by pleading guilty to misdemeanor possession and agreeing to pay a $50-per plant “eradication fee” to law enforcement. Depending on the number of plants the defendant was growing, they may also be placed on probation for two years and have to complete 100-200 hours of community service.
As of now, 31 people involved in cases from years prior that had been moving slowly through the court system have taken the new deal, resulting in $117,0000 being paid to the Mendocino Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office hopes to raise $500,000 next year via a medical marijuana permitting program.
Not everyone is eligible for the new plea deal. It is usually offered to first-time offenders and those who may have been “planning” to obtain medical marijuana credentials. District Attorney David Eyster said, “The agreements not only generate income for law enforcement, they save the District Attorney’s Office time and money. They also save the defendants legal fees.” Eyster also commented, “It’s a win-win program.”