FIRE IN OAKLAND REVEALS GROWHOUSE OPERATION (CA Health & Safety Code §11358 & §11359)

Rabin Nabizadeh
May 29, 2013

In the 1200 block of 51st Avenue, firefighters were called out to a blaze that they believe to have been an illegal grow house operation of about 60-70 marijuana plants, though about 20 of them were lost in the conflagration.  It seems that faulty wiring was the cause of the fire, not arson, and no arrests have been made in the case.  Possibly, the site was licensed; law enforcement officials have not fully finished their investigation.

Marijuana cultivation laws are strict in the state of California. Getting caught with only one plant is considered a felony and you could spend up to 3 years in state prison and pay a fine of up to $10,000 if one is discovered in your home (CA Health & Safety Code §11358). However, because one pot plant does not yield very much usable marijuana, people who are in the midst of cultivating one plant are often also cultivating many others.  Thus, California law makes an automatic assumption when more than one plant is discovered – that you are planning to sell marijuana and ought to be charged with  violation (CA Health & Safety Code §11359), which is possession of marijuana with the intent to sell.  Under this charge, you could be looking at another 3 years and another hefty fine.

Due to the placement of the supposed grow house operation and the use of illegal and faulty wiring, it is unlikely that this particular site was the location of a licensed facility.  The individuals involved will likely never be charged because it will prove difficult to identify them or to connect them to the building.

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