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Officials bust illegal grow operation, 9,000 plants

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A large-scale marijuana grow and a hash oil lab were discovered Friday morning by inspectors following up at a Sonoma County site that had previous violations.

A hazardous materials team was called after county officials, authorized by an inspection warrant, found the hash oil lab and more than 9,000 unpermitted marijuana plants at the property on Butler Avenue, Sonoma County officials said.

Permit Sonoma inspectors, assisted by the sheriff’s office, arrived about 8:30 a.m. at the 5-acre site.

The inspectors were following up to a previous inspection in February 2018. There was no cannabis cultivation at that time, but the property had previously been cited for code violations for unpermitted greenhouses, cargo containers and cannabis cultivation, officials said.

After the hash oil lab and the marijuana plants were found Friday, the county’s hazmat team arrived to evaluate the scene and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office handled the removal of the cannabis plants. The property is located in an unincorporated area of Sonoma County that is zoned as an agriculture and residential district. Commercial cannabis cultivation is prohibited in the zone.

Over the last two years, Permit Sonoma has shut down 863 cannabis sites. In the last two months the department has responded to 115 sites. Anyone wishing to report a possible cannabis violation can call (707)565-1992.

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