Pubdate: Wed, 11 Nov 2009
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Record Searchlight
Author: Scott Mobley
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)


Redding planning commissioners Tuesday endorsed limiting outdoor and 
indoor medical marijuana cultivation despite some sharp disagreements 
about how severe the restrictions should be.

The commission did not vote Tuesday on a zoning ordinance setting 
marijuana cultivation standards and dictating where medical marijuana 
collectives may operate in the city. That decision probably won't be 
reached before Dec. 8.

Commissioners did spend 3 1/2 hours listening to nearly a dozen 
speakers and debating among themselves how the city could best use 
zoning to strike a balance between safe access to marijuana for 
qualified patients while curbing abuses of California's Compassionate Use Act.

Commissioners Randy Smith and Emmett Burroughs favored putting tight 
restrictions on where the city would allow medical marijuana 
collectives and cultivation.

"These things (collectives) are so far from pharmacies they don't 
even belong in the same paragraph," Smith said. "They don't have a 
dose, they don't have a registered licensed person in charge. And we 
say we can put this next to Mary Jane's restaurant? No, it's not OK."

Smith favored restricting collectives to industrial zones, while 
Burroughs wanted to limit them to heavy commercial areas.

The majority of commissioners said such restrictions could impose 
hardships on patients seeking their medicine.

However, all commission members seemed to want tighter zoning 
restrictions on where collectives may operate than those city 
planners had recommended. The city would have allowed collectives in 
most commercial and industrial areas except those nearest 
neighborhoods, under the planners' recommendations.

Commissioners were also somewhat split on whether the city should 
allow indoor or outdoor cultivation, with Smith and Burroughs again 
drawing the hardest line against.

"I don't know why we need to allow cultivation," Burroughs said. 
"This drug has a high potential for abuse. I think we are opening up 
a can of worms we won't be able to close."

The majority on the dais agreed with fellow commissioner Lynne 
Wonacott, who said patients who cannot afford to buy medical 
marijuana at collectives should be able to grow for their own use.

A commission majority rejected the idea of forcing indoor and outdoor 
marijuana gardeners to apply for a permit.

Indications are the city's zoning ordinance will not limit indoor 
growing other than to insist that wiring and irrigation systems meet 
health and safety codes, and that the majority of space in the home 
be devoted to living, not cultivation.

The ordinance will limit outdoor cultivation to 80 to 120 square 
feet, and insist that the gardens be separated from property lines by 
25 to 50 feet, in part to protect neighbors from pungent ripening bud aromas.

The law will likely include exceptions from the setback requirements 
for small, urban lots.

Some speakers opposed the idea of imposing such limits on outdoor 
cultivation, arguing that growers should use common sense and talk to 
their neighbors.

"If I put a rose in my backyard, it doesn't matter where I put it; 
you're going to be able to smell it," said Nick Boosalis, a disabled 
Vietnam veteran who grows his own medical marijuana and said he's 
always worked out problems with neighbors.

"There are already laws in existence to protect people and children, 
if only they were applied," Boosalis said. "The idea you need new 
laws is a joke."

Rick Levin, another medical marijuana patient who grows his own 
medicine in a caged area of his yard, told commissioners the 
ordinance cannot impose any plant limit under Proposition 215 unless 
voters approve.

A city ordinance should show flexibility for people who may need more 
plants for their ailment, and for patients who lose their crops to 
insects or disease, he said.

Redding police investigated 36 marijuana cultivation complaints last 
month and found that 26 - or about two-thirds - were following the 
law under Proposition 215 and other legislation creating the medical 
use exception, Sgt. Jeff Wallace told commissioners.

But a significant majority were abusing the law by growing far more 
marijuana than even a good-sized group of patients would need, Wallace said.

Police are worried about increased potential for marijuana thefts and 
shootings as people protect their backyard plots, Police Chief Peter 
Hansen told the commission.

"My greatest concern is some 12-, 13- or 14-year-old hopping the 
fence to steal a few plants and is shot by someone defending the 
garden," Hansen said.

The commission's deliberations on marijuana cultivation come after 
the City Council last month imposed a 45-day moratorium on new 
medical marijuana collectives to allow officials time to develop 
regulations on dispensary operations and cultivation.

Redding hosts an estimated 20-plus medical marijuana collectives, 
with some observers putting the number as high as 40.

A council majority on Oct. 20 approved a set of regulations that 
would subject medical marijuana collectives and their records to 
police inspection.

The council is expected Nov. 17 to take a final vote on those 
regulations after discussing some proposed minor changes.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom