Pubdate: Sat, 21 Aug 2010
Source: Red Bluff Daily News (CA)
Copyright: 2010 Red Bluff Daily News
Author: Geoff Johnson


TEHAMA Tehama County's medical marijuana approach attracted countless 
complaints and a lawsuit.

But here, in a town of about 500, a stricter policy has met with 
protest only from a handful of growers.

Tehama is a city so small some of its own residents are not aware the 
city can set its own rules, separate from those that apply to the 
unincorporated county. In March, the City Council unanimously enacted 
a marijuana policy after complaints of 10 or 11 noticeable gardens in the area.

Garden owners are prohibited to grow marijuana either inside or 
outside their residence or within 1,000 feet of a school. The plant 
can only be grown in a detached structure with a concrete base and 
built with solid materials...such as twoinch by four-inch or thicker 
studs overlaid with three-eighths inch or thicker plywood, according 
to the city code.

The structure must also have a ventilation system, be approved by a 
planning commission and be surrounded by a fence no higher nor lower 
than six feet. Higher fences are prohibited by city code.

Council members, including James Bacquet, said these requirements are 
necessary for security.

He cited a Los Molinos shooting, reportedly tied to medical marijuana 
theft, and the possibility children would climb into local gardens.

But the more commonplace problem may be the scent of harvest-ripe 
marijuana, he said.

Bacquet's own neighbor, a Prop. 215 patient, grew marijuana whose 
aroma triggered breathing problems in Bacquet's wife.

It was like a herd of skunks, he said.

Bacquet said he and his neighbor get along and seldom speak.

Just around the block, Darin Neville and his wife, Carol, gave a 
different story.

Neville said Bacquet has continually complained about everything from 
Neville's noise levels to his marijuana garden.

Every five minutes we're hearing problems, Neville said.

The couple lives on limited income. Darin Neville, suffering from 
neck injuries, is fighting for disability pay in court while Carol 
receives Social Security checks.

Purchasing marijuana is out of their price range, Darin Neville said. 
No one's been bothered for growing marijuana in this county for years, he said.

Their landlord has opted to appeal the city's decision, Darin Neville 
said. But the couple may soon leave Tehama altogether.

If they do, Marian Baker, another Prop. 215 patient, expects she will 
still be in town. She owns two local properties and cannot afford to 
move, she said.

Baker has already taken it upon herself to install a 24-hour 
surveillance system for her medical marijuana.

But she lives within 1,000 feet of a school.

That's my only problem, she said.

For Baker, it is a $500- a-day problem as the city hits her with 
daily citations.

The council's decision was advertised with little fanfare and passed 
after only minutes of discussion, she said.

Baker needs the plant to combat a host of debilitating illnesses, 
including fibromyalgia and others that rob her of her appetite, she said.

Neither collectives nor dispensaries offer an alternative.

Both are too expensive for Baker, who is on disability.

Even if she could get away from the school, building the kind of shed 
the city wants could cost $20,000 to $30,000, she said.

Bacquet disagreed with the figure. The most expensive part would be 
the ventilation, which could be built for a few hundred to less than 
$2,000 he said.

The rest is a question of building something that can withstand 
floods from the Sacramento River.

Neighbors offered mixed reactions.

I prefer them over anybody else I've seen in there, said Judy 
Reynolds, a Sierra Pacific Windows employee who lives across the 
street from the Nevilles.

A few doors down, Billy Reynolds, a logger unrelated to Judy 
Reynolds, said marijuana did not bother him, except when it is close 
to schools a sentiment cited by county supervisors when they passed a 
similar ordinance.

Council members meanwhile maintain the fight is necessary to keep 
Tehama from growing a reputation for marijuana, even if it means more 
hours for the city attorney and more hearings.

This is costing us a lot of money, but it's gotta be done, Mayor 
Robert Mitchell said.

Just the other day, he ran into a new, prohibited garden, he said.
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart