Pubdate: Sun, 22 Jan 2012
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Press Democrat
Author: Glenda Anderson
Bookmark: (Ballot Initiatives)


Lake County law-enforcement and government officials fear property 
values and public safety will be threatened by a proposed ballot 
initiative that would allow up to 12 budding marijuana plants in 
residential backyards and 84 on parcels of seven acres or more.

On rural parcels, "right to farm regulations" would apply, 
prohibiting the county or neighboring property owners from 
complaining the pot gardens are nuisances.

"It would just nuke people's property rights up here. Just nuke 'em," 
Lake County Community Development Director Rick Coel said.

The Lake County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will decide whether 
to adopt the proposed initiative as an ordinance or place it on the 
June ballot, following a successful signature petition drive by its backers.

The initiative's proponents, the Lake County Green Farmers 
Association and Citizens for Responsible Regulations, also obtained 
sufficient signatures to overturn a county marijuana ordinance that 
would have banned outdoor marijuana cultivation in residential neighborhoods.

Supervisors rescinded that ordinance rather than place the issue on 
the ballot. Last year, a separate referendum drive resulted in the 
board rescinding its ordinance regulating marijuana dispensaries.

Proponents of the Lake County Medical Marijuana Cultivation Act of 
2012 say their initiative is aimed at providing medicinal marijuana 
users safe access to pot. They said the county's plan to ban outdoor 
growing in residential neighborhoods was too restrictive.

"We're looking for responsible regulations," said Don Merrill, a 
former hog farmer and spokesman for the initiative effort. "People 
need to be encouraged to grow a little bit for themselves."

He said the 84 plant maximum on rural properties is not high, 
compared with other Northern California counties.

Local officials are more concerned with the 12 plants that could be 
grown in residential backyards, regardless of size.

"Twelve plants residentially is too many. It really infringes on the 
rights of their neighbors," said Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero.

Some cities, including Lakeport and Ukiah, allow only indoor growing, 
an effort aimed at reducing both the strong odor of ripe marijuana 
buds and crime associated with marijuana production.

Last week there were at least two armed home invasion robberies in 
Lake County associated with marijuana, Rivero said.

Merrill said people in residential neighborhoods could complain if 
the pot their neighbors grow constitutes a nuisance, so there is 
recourse. The group's attorney, Ron Green, said there also are 
varieties of marijuana that produce less of an odor than others.

Rivero also questioned why someone would need 12 plants for personal 
medicinal use. With each plant capable of producing up to 5 pounds, 
that's 60 pounds of marijuana, he said.

At $2,000 a pound, conservatively, that's a valuable product that is 
likely to attract crime, Rivero said.

Supervisor Rob Brown said he believes most of the growers are 
cultivating pot for profit, not for medicine.

The intiative is scheduled to be considered by supervisors at 10:15 
a.m. Tuesday.
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