Nipomo nursery growing 52,000 marijuana plants
October 18, 2016
By KAREN VELIE
Almost a dozen deputies served a search warrant at the Clearwater Nursery in Nipomo last month and discovered approximately 52,000 marijuana plants worth about $104 million at $2,000 a plant. Nevertheless, nursery staff provided the deputies with the names of their medical marijuana clients, and the deputies left, county officials said.
The Sept. 28 search uncovered the largest marijuana grow known to law enforcement in San Luis Obispo County since a number of out of area growers began setting up local pot enterprises. While the investigation into the former Clearwater Nursery is ongoing, the grower provided many of the same client names seen at other grows, sheriff’s spokesperson Tony Cipolla said in an email.
“There is nothing that prevents people from having prescriptions at multiple locations, and there’s nothing that prevents collectives from purchasing from multiple growers,” Cipolla wrote. “Our understanding is that practice will not be allowed with new state regulations on medicinal marijuana that go into effect in Jan. 2018.”
Even so, in November, Californians will vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults. Proposition 64 also allows the state to develop controls over the cultivation, manufacture and sale of marijuana and local control over where marijuana businesses are permitted.
In Nipomo, greenhouses are plentiful. Historically, they have been filled with floral and nursery crops.
At the Clearwater Nursery, cameras watch visitors as they approach. The nursery is surrounded by tall chain-link fences topped with strands of barbed wire hinting at the valuable crop growing inside the long rows of greenhouses.
While some staffers at neighboring nurseries complain about the noxious skunk like smell Clearwater Nursery now emits, others look at the high value of marijuana plants.
In anticipation of Proposition 64 passing, the county is working on a permanent marijuana ordinance. Currently, local officials are split on whether they support large marijuana grows because of the financial benefits or oppose large pot farms because of environmental and crime concerns.
Early next year, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors is slated to vote on a permanent marijuana ordinance.