Pubdate: Wed, 14 Dec 2011
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Jonathan Edwards, Appeal-Democrat


Yuba City residents who grow medical marijuana will have to navigate
tight controls or get banned from doing so.

Three Yuba City City Council members on Tuesday night said growing
medical marijuana endangers and annoys residents. They told city staff
to bring back an ordinance in January that tightly controls marijuana
grows or bans them all together.

"They will do anything to get at that gold," Councilman John Dukes
said of thieves trying to steal marijuana plants. "They will do
whatever's necessary." Dukes echoed about a dozen residents who
complained the plants stunk up neighborhoods, lowered property values
and attracted criminals. Another dozen or so hailed marijuana as
medicine that eased their pain, increased their appetite and let them
to lead normal lives.

Beau Green's father is one of those people. Green, a Yuba City
resident, grows 25 plants for his father, who survived a plane crash,
but suffered burns over more than 80 percent of his body. Using
marijuana lets him work, go to his kids' sporting events and live "a
somewhat normal life," Green said.

Elaine Ballard's said she can't live a normal life with marijuana
growing on the other side of her backyard fence. Pitbulls guard the
cash crop and are viscous, she said.

"We're terrified," Ballard told the council. "I'm afraid to take my
grandchild in my backyard."

It's not just dogs. Thieves hop fences to steal plants and shoot
people who get in their way, ban supporters told the council.

Jake Esparza used to be one of them. Esparza, 34, said he robbed
houses with a .45 in his pocket in case things went sour. He paid his
debt to society, and now he has a house and he doesn't want marijuana
plants luring people like his former self into his

"People like me will rob it," Esparza said. "It's not a matter of if,
but when. It will happen."

Those are big-time commercial growers, said James Maral, of Live Oak.
"Conscientious" growers don't cause those problems.

City Manager Steve Jepsen agreed, calling commercial grows "awful."
Most of the problems stem from them and not the patients growing a few
plants for their own use. "They cast a bad light on everyone."

Jepsen wasn't the only city official to hold off on suggesting a ban.
Council member Tej Maan, too, balked at calling for one.

"We have to respect the rights of everybody," Maan said. "I'm not sure
that banning is going to work."

The meeting was packed and heated. Four marijuana supporters left the
chambers as the council deliberated, promising to defy the council if
it issued a ban.

"We'll keep growing, man," A.J. Gouge hollered as he

Eric Salerno, spokesman for the pro-medical marijuana group, Americans
for Safe Access, stayed after the meeting to talk with Jepsen, and
said the two plan to meet to find a compromise that works for both

We are going to have a discussion," Salerno said. "We are going to
come to an agreement. We are going to work it out."

Jepsen said he would talk with both sides and bring an ordinance back
to the council in January. 
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