Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jan 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Jonathan Edwards


Yuba City's weed war heats up tonight.

City officials meet with residents who support farming medical 
marijuana at 6 p.m. in City Hall. A meeting for residents who want to 
prohibit or tightly restrict growing marijuana is set for Thursday.

"(A ban) would really hurt us," said Stuart Shaft, 49, a Yuba City 
resident who has grown his own marijuana for the last three or four years.

Like Shaft, more and more Yuba City residents have started growing 
medical marijuana the past few years. Patients and their backers say 
they have a right to grow the medicine a doctor has prescribed them. 
Some neighbors say their medicine stinks up and endangers the neighborhoods.

"What's the right thing to do?" asked City Manager Steve Jepsen. "The 
patient's need versus the neighbor's right to enjoy their property."

The two sides hashed it out at a Dec. 13 meeting before the Yuba City 
City Cou cil, which leaned toward a ban or tight restrictions. 
However, council members didn't make a decision, but pushed city 
staff to hold this week's meetings so residents could voice their opinions.

Yuba City is not unique. Cities around California have considered 
restricting their residents from growing medical marijuana, which was 
decriminalized when voters in 1996 passed Proposition 215, or the 
Compassionate Use Act. Live Oak's City Council last month banned its 
residents from doing so.

Shaft plans on being at tonight's meeting to try and stop Yuba City 
from doing the same thing. The machine mechanic lives near Bridge 
Street and North Walton Avenue, where he grew 24 marijuana plants last year.

Shaft has used marijuana since about 2003. His wife, 51, and 
daughter, 18, eat their marijuana to ease the pain and nausea of 
different medical conditions.

Before Shaft grew marijuana, he trekked to Sacramento and bought from 
dispensaries, something Shaft said was at least twice as expensive, 
not including gas. Still, if the city bans growing marijuana, he'll 
drive to Sacramento or even the Bay Area, despite the bite it will 
take out of his budget.

"Wherever I have to go to get it," he said.

Ellen Ballard of Yuba City also plans on showing up, even though she 
wants the council to ban people like Shaft from growing. She said she 
has heard growers plan to show up on Thursday, and she wants to level 
the playing field.

Ballard, 52, said she sympathizes with sick people who use their 
harvest to treat their ailments. Profiteers, however, game the system 
to make a buck, she said. Regardless of their legitimacy, marijuana 
grows attract criminals.

"They're going to come and steal it no matter where it is," she said. 
"They're going to go through our yard to get to it."

Thieves have never tried to steal her neighbor's crop, Ballard said, 
and police have never come out.

Still, the danger isn't just hypothetical, she said. Ballard's 
backyard butts up against marijuana grows guarded by pit bulls.

"They have vicious dogs that are constantly pounding at the fence," 
she said. "It's dangerous."

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Pot meetings:

PRO: 6 p.m. today

WHERE: Yuba City City Hall, 1201 Civic Center Blvd.

CON: 6 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Yuba City City Hall, 1201 Civic Center Blvd.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom