Pubdate: Tue, 29 Nov 2011
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Record
Author: Dana M. Nichols
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


JACKSON - Outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana has been 
temporarily banned in Amador County while land-use planners draft 
regulations aimed at addressing crime, odor and sanitation problems.

The Sept. 27 killing of He Ting Fu during the attempted robbery of a 
medical pot garden he was tending on Carbondale Road near Ione 
riveted attention to the dangers in growing such a high-value crop. 
Five men from the Sacramento area are in jail facing murder charges 
in the killing.

But Amador County officials said they already were getting complaints 
about the proliferation of marijuana growers in the county months 
before Fu died in the high-profile gun battle. And they were already 
working on proposed regulations.

"I think we have a pretty good handle on the concerns - the odor and 
the safety and the camping," said Susan Grijalva, the county's 
planning director. "When that happened (in September), it brought a 
broader public awareness to it."

Often, those who grow marijuana camp out nearby. Grijalva said that 
can become a sanitation problem when the campers fail to properly 
dispose of human waste.

Perhaps the most common complaint from those who live near growers is 
the skunky odor of plants as they near maturity.

Connie Hinshaw of River Pines raised the issue during the Nov. 22 
meeting of the Amador County board of supervisors.

"We have a very nice little town park. We also have a grower right 
across the street," she said. "We got feedback from people who are 
taking their kids to that park, late summer, early fall, that they 
wouldn't be bringing their kids back for a while because the smell 
was so overwhelming."

That day, supervisors voted unanimously to direct county staff to 
draft regulations to help soften the impact of marijuana growing on 
those nearby. The board also approved a 45-day ban on outdoor medical 
marijuana cultivation.

Grijalva said she hopes to bring a proposed ordinance early next year 
and to have the rules in place before the next growing season begins 
in spring. Grijalva said she also will consult with law enforcement, 
medical marijuana growers and health care professionals as she drafts 
the ordinance. Among other things, the ordinance might specify that 
pot gardens have to be a certain distance away from schools and parks.

Amador County resident and medical pot user David Jack said he 
sympathizes with the need to control garden odor, and to reduce the 
chances that visible gardens will attract violence.

"I believe the problem we have in this county is a bunch of greedy 
people," Jack said. "They are creating a problem for qualified 
medical marijuana users."

Amador County supervisors said they have no intention of preventing 
legitimate patients from growing a few plants for their own use.

Amador County Counsel Gregory Gillott said medical marijuana farms 
have become a problem throughout California. He said Fresno, El 
Dorado, Glenn and Lassen counties all have similar bans on outdoor growing.


Have your say

The task force drafting regulations for outdoor medical marijuana 
cultivation in Amador County will hold public meetings in December. 
To be notified, call the Planning Department at (209) 223-6380.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom