Pubdate: Tue, 11 Oct 2011
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Record Searchlight
Author: Alayna Shulman


Dispensary Ban, Ordinances to Be Discussed

In the first local discussion after recent federal crackdowns on 
medical cannabis in California, Shasta County planning commissioners 
will consider recommending county supervisors ban dispensaries and 
update regulations on cultivation in unincorporated parts of the 
county at Thursday's meeting.

The recommendation from the county Resource Management Department 
comes after a series of moratoria first enacted by county supervisors 
in early 2010 on medical marijuana collectives in the county.

Establishing dispensaries has been illegal in unincorporated areas 
since, although the city of Redding currently has 16 collectives.

Federal strikes against medical marijuana dispensaries in California 
have upset medical marijuana proponents in the past week after 
letters were sent to dozens of collectives statewide, alleging 
they're "pervasive, for-profit" operations and demanding they shut 
down in less than two months.

But the timing of the county's medical marijuana review is only a 
coincidence, said Shasta County's assistant resource management 
director, Rick Simon. Planners have been studying the effects of 
dispensaries in the area since the initial moratorium was enacted.

"This stuff that (federal prosecutors) are doing now is really kind 
of an interesting timing, but it is coincidental," he said.

Planning commissioners Thursday will decide whether to recommend 
supervisors adopt two ordinances, one banning collectives 
indefinitely and one setting guidelines for growing medical cannabis 
in the unincorporated county.

In a report to planning commissioners, the Resource Management 
Department identifies several key "issues" regarding dispensaries 
that staff members have observed in talking with other jurisdictions 
and local law enforcement.

They include increased violence and crime, poor environmental 
conditions and living conditions near grows, complaints regarding 
smell and resulting difficulty breathing, loitering, illegal drug 
sales and noise.

But Phillip Stone, 21, an employee at the River Valley Collective in 
Redding, said traveling all the way into town is taxing for many of 
the collective's customers who live in more rural areas.

"It's a huge burden on them, no doubt," he said.

Stone said he doesn't think complaints that marijuana dispensaries 
smell are serious enough to forbid them altogether.

"So does getting your lawn cut. Having the trash people come through 
is smelly," he said.

Still, there also are a number of recent legal cases "which make 
clear the authority of local jurisdictions to regulate medical 
marijuana dispensaries and cultivation," the staff report reads, 
including Assembly Bill 1300, which will take effect in January and 
says the Medical Marijuana Program Act won't prevent local government 
from adopting ordinances regulating the location or establishment of 

In addition, the new ordinances wouldn't completely ban county 
residents from growing marijuana at their homes.

The ordinance would let "qualified patients and primary caregivers" 
grow on their property as long as the crops are no more than 200 
square feet, depending on parcel size. Indoor grows, on the other 
hand, can't be bigger than 100 square feet.

There would also be a 1,000-foot "no-grow" zone around schools and 
"sensitive" places.

"We believe that strikes a reasonable balance between meeting the 
needs of those patients that do require medical marijuana while 
protecting the integrity of neighborhoods, the safety of 
neighborhoods and concerns of neighboring property owners," Simon 
said. "Our intent is to try to accommodate kind of a personal scale 
allowance for cultivation and avoid or strongly discourage any 
large-scale cultivation operations, where, in our view, a lot of the 
problems occur."
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MAP posted-by: Keith Brilhart