Pubdate: Sat, 04 Jun 2011
Source: Paradise Post (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Paradise Post
Author: Paul Wellersdick


The Paradise Planning Commission voted unanimously to close its public
hearing on a new draft medical marijuana ordinance after a handful of
people spoke on the matter Thursday evening.

The commission recommended a few minor changes to the draft ordinance
that will be presented at a continued closed public hearing 6 p.m.,
July 7 at Town Hall. There the commission will consider the ordinance
in public but will not take public comments on the record, Town
Attorney Dwight Moore said.

The commission may then forward the ordinance to the Paradise Town
Council which could adopt it. In essence, the ordinance gives the town
the enforcement teeth to handle what it says are very real problems of
public safety while balancing the legitimate medical needs of patients
allowed under state law.

The key components of the ordinance restrict cooperative growing and
processing sites to the Industrial Services zone in town and restricts
residential grows to the patient's home. The patient may grow 50
square feet of the drug outside behind a fence and screened from
neighbors' view. Or they may grow inside with permits and other
restrictions including lighting limitations and following all
applicable building codes.

The industrial site would be limited to the American Way, Easy Street
and McKale Road area off Clark Road at the south end of town. In
keeping with current town law, dispensaries are not legal in the Town
of Paradise. Staff at Town Hall is now crafting language to allow two
or more complaints to trigger action by town enforcement for smell or
other nuisance complaints.

Also, staff will be drafting language that would treat greenhouses as
outdoor growing, to clarify the existing draft. Commissioner April
Gross-berger also asked the staff in Town Hall to look at energy
efficiency measures for indoor growing. Town Manager Chuck Rough said
the new laws, if approved as proposed, would immediately quell many
problems with homes dedicated to pot grows and other concerns.

Rough also said two motorcycle gangs were beginning to establish
themselves in town with medical marijuana fronts funding their
operations. The codes would also help prevent and fight such abuse, he

Again, Rough also called on the 2008 homicide that is yet unsolved and
was the result of a home invasion robbery of marijuana. The anecdotes
were in response to Chairman Mitchell Johns' questions about Paradise
Police Department issues with medical marijuana. The commission heard
from six people from the public, four of whom were admitted patients.
Comments were brief enough that some were allowed to address the
commission a second time after the town discussed some of the finer

Jon Remalia, a Magalia man with Paradise business plans for a
cooperative growing location, said the ordinance was too lengthy and
confusing - a comment echoed by one other patient.

He argued that allowing outdoor growing at all would not cure odor
problems, even with 50- to 75-foot setbacks. Remalia said he would
prefer that the town mirror the City of Biggs' law, which outright
bans outdoor growing, but Rough said there was a loophole "a mile
wide" that allows for outdoor growing.

Rough argued that the Biggs law, and any other that specifically
limits growing only to indoors or outdoors, was more open to legal

Kevin Gorman, the executive director of the Paradise chapter of the
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, was pithy in
saying that the ordinance was not in compliance with the state's
compassionate use laws.

Patient Paul McCarthy said he didn't agree with limiting the outdoor
growing area to 50 square feet because it discriminated against the
poor who cannot afford large properties to grow on.

He argued that limiting the number of plants to six per person was a
better solution because not everyone has 100 percent success with
plants. Attorney Moore said the Supreme Court has ruled that it is
illegal to prosecute people for growing more than a certain number of
plants. The "50 square feet" is not "magical or scientific" but rather
consistent with the town's neighbors, namely Chico, he said.

Earl Persons said he can't afford to grow indoors and cannot yield a
sufficient amount of medicine in 50 square feet because he cooks and
eats his cannabis to relieve pain - a method he said requires more of
the drug.

"I don't know what the kids get out of smoking it, I guess they catch
a buzz," he said.

Bob Cornell said he'd prefer that all marijuana growing be limited to
the industrial area of town. Bill Mannel, a former commissioner, said
the commission should think about the neighbors as the target of the
new codes. He brought up the point of greenhouses and how they could
be exempt from setbacks under the draft.

Mannel, who wrote to the commission in an e-mail that he felt the
purpose of medical marijuana was diluted to allow legal recreational
use, told the commission that limiting growing to the industrial zone
of town could have a positive tax benefit.

Freshman Planning Commissioner Jody Jones said she wanted to see the
rationale behind some of the details of the ordinance. The draft was
written by a study group, or committee of Town Hall staff after the
town council enacted an emergency ban on cooperative grows. Some of
the specifics were borrowed from other town ordinances including the
setbacks, which were borrowed from animal control experiences with
75-foot setbacks required for neighbors housing chickens, and 100 feet
for horses.

Those laws are in place to limit some of the same concerns of odor,
dust and flies, Town Development Director Craig Baker said. The public
hearing was attended by a total of about 15 people.
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