State investigators raid SLO County’s largest marijuana cultivation

April 7, 2019

Cameras and chain-link fences topped with barbed wire strands protect CFAM Management’s Nipomo facility


Shortly after state investigators raided San Luis Obispo County’s largest marijuana cultivation site, county staffers rescinded their recommendation of approval and are asking the Board of Supervisors to shut down the grow. [Cal Coast Times]

In 2016, the county approved an urgency permit for CFAM Management’s 49,000 cannabis plant indoor grow at the former Clearwater Nursery in Nipomo. In July 2017, county employees inspected the site and found approximately 225,000 plants, the first in a series of county enforcement violations.

Since 2017, county inspectors have documented multiple violations for unpermitted structures, unpermitted electrical work, manufacturing violations, failures to abide by plant count restrictions, and multiple confirmed odor violations. Even though county inspectors repeatedly noted the ongoing violations at the CFAM Management site, little enforcement action was taken.

On Nov. 28, 2018, the planning commission approved CFAM Management’s request for a conditional use permit for 22,000 square feet of indoor cultivation, 264,632 square feet of nursery plants, a 4,284 square foot tissue culture lab, and a 42,797 square foot drying and processing area. A month later, a group of neighbors appealed the permit approval primarily because of the noxious odors the facility emits.

On March 13, state investigators served a criminal search warrant at the CFAM Management site at 887 Mesa Road in Nipomo. Because of the ongoing investigation, Georgia Henry, CalCannabis cultivation and licensing outreach coordinator, said she could not comment on the reasons for the raid.

On March 27, county staff produced a resolution supporting denial of the project because of county enforcement violations and the ongoing state criminal investigation into “alleged violations of state law separate and apart from County Code Enforcement.”

Rows of greenhouses at the CFAM Management site.

On Tuesday, the SLO County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hear three cannabis cultivation permit appeals, including the appeal of the CFAM Management project. All three projects are located within a two mile area on the Nipomo Mesa.

Francesca Bolognini

Well, our county seems bent on “regulating” this industry that their very application of the law creates. We are “allowed” to grow ourselves, but only indoors. Seriously??? How is any normal person in a normal home supposed to accomplish that? One would require intensive power use (hardly a “green” project) and good positive ventilation. Even one plant would be difficult to swing in some homes. So, people are forced to buy commercially grown products instead. This is, of coarse, the only really reliable way to raise taxes from the use of this plant. Hardly a surprise that this scenario is leading to corruption, greed and abuse of the situation. Allowing actual legalization would cause the price to drop precipitously and end the corruption. This forced commercialization and taxation of the plant is an abuse in itself, when it is so easily cultivated by anyone who has even a little porch that gets sun.


It is very easy to grow indoors in a tent with LEDs and get results that put anything in a dispensary to shame. 2 4×4 tents started a month apart, harvesting 3 plants of good genetics per tent every other month can yield close to a pound of personal product a month once everything is dialed in.


Compared to outdoor grows, indoor grows require large start-up costs, indoor space, and money for ongoing power costs. The quality of amateur outdoor grows is near that of anything you can find in a dispensary. Grows were forced indoors to limit supply and keep the price high. Once outdoor grows are legal, I’ll be helping all my neighbors grow, which will drive down the costs and make large go away.


Having done both, I will stick with indoor. For me there where way to many weather, pests, mold, and mildew problems growing outdoors in this area that require a lot more money to combat vs indoor.

I have worked at several outdoor farms locally and after seeing what passes as ‘good product’ I can honestly say I will never touch anything commercially grown again. With indoor you can control so much more of the environment which equates to a much higher quality product and from my experience the cost of outdoor vs indoor is similar.

Indoor you have tent/light/fan costs upfront ($1000) but outdoor you have ongoing pest management costs which can easily cost $300+/mo if it is done properly/naturally just in predator bugs and microbial sprays to ward off moths, caterpillars, mites, etc and other products to ward of powder mildew because you can’t control the fog/humidity. Most commercial growers (everyone I have dealt with) won’t even consider going the natural route for IPM due to costs, so they just spray whatever is cheapest because they know they still don’t have to have their product tested in order to sell it. I can’t tell you how many bottles of Eagle20 I have seen on commercial farms, a product that turns to cyanide when heated.

It cost me $200/mo (most of it electricity) to grow a pound indoors and it takes up a 4’x8′ area in my garage, the same footprint as a sheet of plywood, which most would say that isn’t a lot of room. I know my product is pristine in cleanliness (as I wash all my plants at harvest in 3 different buckets to get even the dust off them), organically grown, and no chemicals used for any reason, just natural remedies. I also have all my product tested for potency, terpenes, and cleanliness by driving samples up to Steep Hill Labs. Any of the strains I grow taste better than anything I have ever had from a dispensary or even judging kits from the SLO Norml events which in theory is supposed to be the best of the best from the local growers. Maybe a dispensary in the Emerald Triangle will have better quality stuff than what I grow, I haven’t tried any up there, but from SF to SD, I have yet to find any dispensary selling anything I would consider a quality product.


“Vote for this proposition and marijuana will be legal!”…..they said.

What they forgot to mention is that all the forms, permissions, licenses, permits, inspections and other forms of paperwork will carry a hefty punishment if not complied with……and non-compliance is only possible after extensive bribes.

My idea of a “legal” crop is tomatoes, lettuce, olives, etc. I know someone with 200 olive trees…perfectly legal. Another person has enough wine in his cellar to kill 40 of us dead…..not to mention the carnage on the roads….perfectly legal. The grapes were grown on his property without any paperwork….legally.

Marijuana is NOT legal. We were played.


Not legal but a definite step in the right direction. I was always suspect of states passing laws to allow it while it is still highly restricted at the Federal level. But in practice, as an individual Joe Consumer, being able to openly purchase it and have it on your person or in your home without fear of getting arrested is huge in comparison to the way things used to be.

I just wish commercial growers, processors, and vendors would be extra careful to operate within the imposed restrictions no matter how ridiculous and burdensome those restrictions might be. Just to help speed us along into a society were the fear is a thing of the past.

I hate reading about commercial operations getting busted right-and-left for various violations. Since you know there are people out there looking for any excuse to point to those as examples of how the experiment is failing and should be abandoned.


The small government crowd has been so polluted by the ideology of the moral majority over the years that they stumble over each other encouraging excessive government regulation of anything they consider to be “sinful.”


The cookie family has been shady forever, you can tell just by the name. Like mentioned in the article, they already got busted for having way more plants than allowed, and just kept on doing it after they were busted because they thought it is a small fine/slap on the wrist. The first one may have been, but when you continue doing it, you should lose the farm and be banned from the industry.


The legalization of weed by the voters of California did not negate zoning laws, environmental laws, business licensing laws or taxation laws. The pro weed crowd has this idea that legalization meant total immunity from any laws, regulations or ordinances when engaged in the cultivation, harvesting, processing, transporting or sales of weed. The failure to follow the rules is what is leading to these government raids. Follow the rules, pay your permit fees and your business taxes and “The Man” won’t show up on your doorstep.


Gee wizz Jimmy, aint like that’s the first time your government knew whats better for you and did what they wanted now is it? Probably cause the feds will never approve legalization and threaten to shut off the fed state welfare if they keep up the demise of American civilization with legalized drugs.Cali might think they know whats best for everyone but their perverted morals will never prevail in the NWO.

Francesca Bolognini

“Threaten to cut off the fed state welfare’? It would seem that you are unaware that at least 20% of the money that California sends to the federal government never returns, in any form. It actually goes to fund the “red” states, all of which are in the worst financial shape and requiring, in the case of, say Mississippi, about $2.17 in “state fed welfare” for every $1 they remit. California has the 5th largest economy in the world. That means, in case I am being unclear, California has a larger economy than most countries of the world. My conclusion t this is that California would actually be better off financially if we did not have to fund other states or the debacles of the federal government in general. You may not like our morals, but financially we do alright. If yo find the “morals” objectionable, that would seem like a strong reason to relocate.


You seem to be rather proud that Ca has the 5th largest economy but ask yourself is it the 5th “best” or 5th largest? When you have 40 million plus sure lots of money changes hands and that about it. “Financially we do alright” But gas is $4 a gallon, 70% of the folks who reside in Ca cannot afford a home, taxes are off the deep end,traffic,crime and quality of life is well… your call cause that’s simply ones opinion . Stats show more are leaving the state then moving in, so just how good is it really anymore one has to ask themselves? Course there’s the “I got mine” syndrome, but I digress, back to the pot topic.


The sin of now Gov. Gavin Newsome’s Initiative to legalize cannabis wasn’t legalizing pot. It was doing so without considering and addressing the consequences. Local governments forced to spend way too much time to manage the crush of permit applications and enforcement without funding from the state, the lawlessness of many operators, the creeping corruption that is manifesting itself in our local governments, the stink of cannabis operations wafting into people’s homes, and the failure to leverage the generation of revenues from the industry to educate our school children about drug abuse are all illustrative of the failure to consider and plan for the consequences that are now upon us. We are returning to the lawless era of the Wild West of the 1800’s…


Local governments “forced” to spend way to much time to manage the crush of permit applications…. so you WANT more local bureaucracy? You think the free market should be regulated to death? Can we get some philosophical consistency in here?

If we didn’t regulate this industry to death, there would be more producers, it would drive down the price, and it wouldn’t be profitable for these mass growers. Grows would be much smaller.


mkaney, you missed my point. Passing the initiative and forcing local governments the responsibility to regulate it without having the resources or expertise to do so is growing government and distracting it from its core purposes. I absolutely don’t want more bureaucracy, but the initiative is making it happen.


I guess if you don’t pay you don’t get to play!!!

Maybe Helios will purchase the site and Shazaam, it will all be allowed!!!


Local governments and law enforcement continue to make a joke of the fact that California voted to legalize cannabis. Why is this OK?


Now that pot is legal, people can grow their own, use the products and have legal businesses. People can not use illegal chemicals, smuggle it out of state, pay inspectors to look the other way, or violate other laws.

But a group of former criminals are those wanting to grow without following laws. There is a class action against Brass Knuckles because of all the bad chemicals, that have made people sick in vapes.


“… former criminals….” “FORMER criminals.” Criminals. They were criminals then, they are criminals now, and they always will be criminals.

The sappy, dopey imbecilic California voters were easily suckered into legalizing criminality, and now we are beginning- just BEGINNING- to see the implication of that idiocy. And, people- keep in mind that it will not be possible to put that Genie back into the bottle. The only hope remaining is that the Federal government eventually decides to lower the boom on California and other states that have been duped into this “legalization” scam. And watch the Progressives and the news media go into hysterics then.

In the meantime, all the dopey losers are able to sacrifice their lives into the fantasy of the weed and drag all the rest of us down into their dead-end no-win lunacy.


Have a nice day.