A grand jury condemned the officials in cash-strapped Northern California for ignoring the federal law to approve of the giant medical marijuana farm.
Potential legal problems weren't adequately addressed before leaders moved to support a project that would total about 15,000 square feet on the edge of Isleton - a town of 800 about 40 miles south of Sacramento, reports said on Monday.
The medical marijuana collective Delta Allied Growers had approached Isleton officials a year ago with plans for a 4,000-square-foot pot farm. They promised up to $600,000 in the first year of the farm's operation and officials jumped to grab the opportunity without thinking much about it.
The city allowed the community to be pushed into a project that is perched on the blurry edge of marijuana law without properly questioning the situation, a cover letter to the report from grand jury foreman Donald Prange Jr. reads. It did so, not because of any desire to test the limits of the law, but because of the promise of money and jobs.
City Manager Bruce Pope told the San Fransisco Chronicle, that the city took up the opportunity to turn a failed development into a profitable enterprise. Taxes and fees from the farm would have brought in up to $850,000 a year.
We did our jobs the way we were supposed to, Pope told the Sacramento Bee. The fact that a criminal prosecutor didn't like the way we did our jobs is beside the point.
The project was scrapped after Delta approached Isleton officials about it. The local and federal prosecutors sent a warning letter that the project is illegal.