Pubdate: Sat, 03 Sep 2011
Source: Paradise Post (CA)
Copyright: 2011 Paradise Post
Author: Paul Wellersdick, Staff Writer 


New medical marijuana restrictions will go before the Paradise Town
Council Tuesday, Sept. 6 which would limit pot gardens to 50 square
feet at qualified patients' homes only.

The town is now under an emergency ban of collectives and cooperatives
and the new ordinance would ban them and dispensaries. The law has
seen a number of changes since its initial drafting following the
January 2011 emergency moratorium that expires mid-December. The
newest version cuts out any provision for collectives lest the town be
federally prosecuted.

While the previous version allowed a commercial indoor farm in a small
section of the town's one industrial zone, that provision was
eliminated after town attorney Dwight Moore talked with the U.S.
Attorney's Office. U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner previously issued the
City of Chico a letter warning against breaking federal law.

"Individuals who elect to operate industrial marijuana cultivation
facilities will be doing so in violation of federal law. Others who
knowingly facilitate such industrial cultivation activities, including
property owners, landlords and financiers, should also know that their
conduct violates federal law," Wagner wrote.

The town's law is said to attempt to balance the rights of medical
marijuana patients and the property rights and public safety concerns
of their neighbors. This concern was highlighted by the 2008
home-invasion robbery and murder of Eric Jones at his Azalea Lane
home, where his and other patients' marijuana was stolen.

Add to that the town's concerns of being an easy target for those
hoping to exploit the system governing medical marijuana, and the town
voted to temporarily ban cooperatives until it could address their
regulation. Other neighboring jurisdictions are approving and
entertaining similar regulations, and the town feared that without
similar restrictions it would be a vacuum for such activity.

The town is attempting to regulate medical marijuana through land use,
like any other zoning stipulation, as that category doesn't interfere
with the Compassionate Use Act of Proposition 215, according to the
town. However, patients have shown up at all the town's meetings on
the issue to protest various portions of the regulations.

Some have opposed limiting the square footage of the garden area,
saying limiting plant numbers was better. Other patients have
preferred stricter or looser regulations surrounding school zones.
Still others have called for the entire deregulation of marijuana. The
Paradise Police Department and the California Police Chief's
Association have stated their support of some form of regulation. The
council's consideration Tuesday is another opportunity for comments in
favor of or against the regulations during a public hearing on the

There are two hearings scheduled ahead of the pot law and the hearings
follow some routine business. The council meeting begins at 6 p.m. in
the council chambers at Town Hall, 5555 Skyway. 
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