“It grows in the ground, requires water and sunshine to blossom, and earns Californians an estimated $17 billion a year. But don’t call marijuana an agricultural crop in Tulare County.”

Those words are the opening of a story from the CBS news affiliate in Sacramento, about the fact that a judge in Tulare county ruled that marijuana is not a crop, siding with the Board of Supervisors who said a medical marijuana collective called the Foothill Growers Association was “improperly operating in a warehouse on land zoned for agricultural uses.”

The collective was given until today to stop using the building, after the judge determined that collectives were only allowed in manufacturing and commercial zones.

The collective’s attorney, Brandon Ormonde, spoke to the Fresno Bee, explaining that marijuana is agricultural in nature, though he conceded that it has never been “legally recognized as a crop.” ( Local pro-pot organizations believe that distinction is absurd, and I have to agree.)

Dale Gieringer, the director California’s NORML branch said,”If it’s not a crop, I don’t know what it is.”

Tulare County is one of the nation’s top agricultural communities, with total farm receipts in excess of $4.8 billion last year.

In his decision, Superior Court Judge Paul Vortmann wrote that cannabis has never officially been classified as an agricultural crop, and added that growing a controlled substance does not qualify as an “agricultural use of property.”

Despite the fact that even in two of the state’s most cannabis-friendly counties – Alameda and Mendocino – have agricultural commissioners who also don’t consider marijuana a crop, activists keep trying to slip it through. For example, in 1979, then-Mendocino County agricultural commissioner Ted Erikson, Jr, included the plant in the county’s annual crop report. With $90 million a year in generated receipts, it was the county’s top commodity after timber, that year.

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