Sonoma County shuts down illegal cannabis operation

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County inspectors shut down a large-scale, illegal cannabis operation Friday after finding more than 9,000 unpermitted cannabis plants at a property in southwest Santa Rosa, authorities said Saturday.

With assistance from the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, inspectors from Permit Sonoma arrived at the Butler Avenue property just after 8:30 a.m. with an inspection warrant, said Maggie Fleming, spokeswoman for the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department.

In addition to the plants, inspectors also discovered a hash oil lab. A county HazMat team was called in to evaluate the scene, and the Sheriff’s Office removed the cannabis plants.

The 5-acre property, located in the unincorporated area of Sonoma County, is zoned as an agriculture and residential district, where commercial cannabis cultivation is prohibited under the county’s cannabis ordinance, Fleming said in a statement.

The property has a history of code enforcement violations dating back to August 2017, when the county issued violation notices to its owner for unpermitted greenhouses, cargo containers and cannabis cultivation, Fleming said. Inspectors visited the site again in February 2018 but found no cannabis cultivation on the site at that time. Friday’s inspection was a follow-up to determine whether the code violations had been resolved.

In the last two years, Permit Sonoma has shut down 863 cannabis sites, part of a county crackdown on illegal cannabis cultivation. In the last two months, the department has responded to 115 sites.

To report a possible cannabis violation, call 707-565-1992.

You can reach Staff Writer Diane Peterson at 707-521-5287 or On Twitter @dianepete56.

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