Nevada County district attorney charges suspect in 2,000-plant grow with misdemeanor cultivation
A man linked to a large-scale marijuana grow on Jackass Flats Road last September was charged Wednesday with unlawful cultivation of marijuana, authorities said.
Brandon Reppond, 43, faces a maximum six-month jail sentence if convicted of the misdemeanor, Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said. An arraignment date has not been set.
“Growers in our community who are going through the expense and effort to be in compliance will experience the full protection of the law,” Walsh said. “Those who are not in compliance will be prosecuted.”
Nevada County sheriff’s deputies, personnel from the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as scientists from the California Water Resource Board, had gone to the property in mid-September. A total of 3,877 marijuana plants and an undetermined amount of marijuana cola on the stem was seized, sheriff’s Lt. Rob Bringolf said at the time. There were no state or local cannabis permits associated with the property.
The marijuana grow was being investigated by the Sheriff’s Office after it was brought to its attention by the water board, whose cannabis cultivation program was created in 2017 to ensure the diversion of water and discharge of waste associated with cultivation does not have a negative impact on water quality, aquatic habitat, riparian habitat, wetlands and springs.
According to Bringolf, the grow on Jackass Flats Road had several “massive” hoop houses dug into the hillside, with seasonal runoff potentially entering the south fork of the Yuba River, below Edwards Crossing via Spring Creek.
“It was a big operation,” Walsh said.
Walsh noted that illegal cultivation is a misdemeanor crime and no environmental issues were found that elevated the charges to a felony.
“We looked at it closely,” Walsh said of the charging decision.
Having more than six plants outside without a permit, without going through the compliance process, makes cultivation illegal, he said, adding there is no amount threshold that makes cultivation a felony.
“Environmental impacts is what would make it a felony,” Walsh explained.
But in this case, he said, there were potential environmental impacts, but no evidence of an actual impact.
“There was the potential for runoff into waterways, but we could not prove that any runoff did take place,” Walsh said. “Because of that distinction, we did not feel confident we could prove (the felony) beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Walsh’s office also took into consideration that Reppond had no prior criminal record, and no aggravating factors such as weapons or other criminal acts were found, he said.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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