Pubdate: Tue, 08 Jun 2010
Source: Corning Observer (Corning, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Freedom Communications
Author: Julie R. Johnson


If there is power in numbers, area pot growers have  filed a powerful 
lawsuit against Tehama County.

The lawsuit was filed recently by local medical  marijuana patients 
against Tehama County's marijuana  cultivation ordinance, which 
regulates where and how  much marijuana a patient or caregiver can 
grow in the  county.

The plaintiffs claim that the ordinance makes it  impossible for them 
to legally exercise their  Proposition 215 right to cultivate medical 
marijuana  for themselves, according to a statement released by  the 
law firm of E.D. Lerman and J. David Nick, which  filed the suit in 
Tehama County Superior Court.

The exact number of plaintiffs was not known  immediately. However, 
hundreds of people signed up to  be part of the lawsuit at a 
informational meeting held  by the law firm in April.

Financially supported by California NORML, a  pro-medical marijuana 
group dedicated to reforming  California's marijuana laws, the 
lawsuit asks to strike  down the county ordinance.

At the April meeting, Lerman told the group to expect a  "long haul," 
and she anticipates that whichever way the  lawsuit is settled - for 
the plaintiffs or for the  county - it will be appealed and could 
possibly go as  far as the Supreme Court.

The attorney also told the group to start raising money  to cover 
some of the cost the lawsuit will incur.

"They can't take everyone's rights away," Lerman said.  "California 
law states (medicinal marijuana) patients  can have whatever they 
need for themselves and for  collectives."

Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams, who introduced  the ordinance, 
said he had anticipated something like  this taking place.

"They threatened this all along, through the whole  process. I stand 
by the ordinance and what it means to  the county. Other than that, 
because of the litigation,  I can't say much," Williams said.

"I am all about this. They aren't taking my rights  away," medical 
marijuana patient Kenny Kunselman of  Rancho Tehama, said.

According to Kathy Prather, co-owner/operator of Tehama  Herbal 
Collective, a medical marijuana shop in Corning,  there are more than 
3,600 people in the county who hold  recommendations for medicinal marijuana.

The Tehama ordinance declares it a public nuisance to  grow marijuana 
anywhere within 1,000 feet of a school,  school bus stop, church, 
park, or youth-oriented  facility.

It also states no more than 12 mature or 24 immature  marijuana 
plants can be grown in an area 20 acres or  less, and if both mature 
and immature plants are  growing there shall be no more than 24 
total; in an  area greater than 20 but less than 160 acres no 
more  than 30 mature and 60 immature plants, with no more  than 60 
total at one time; and in an area 160 acres or  greater no more than 
99 plants, whether mature or  immature.

The ordinance requires outdoor gardens be surrounded by  an opaque 
fence at least six feet high and located 100  feet or more from the 
property boundaries; and requires  every patient garden to be 
registered with the county  health services agency.

In another lawsuit filed by Lerman and Nick, Mendocino  County 
medical marijuana patients are challenging an  ordinance that limits 
patient cultivation to 25 plants  per parcel, regardless of the 
number of patients. The  ordinance was recently amended to let 
collectives apply for licenses for larger gardens of up to 99 
plants  under certain conditions.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart