Pubdate: Wed, 29 Feb 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Jonathan Edwards


Medical marijuana patients in Yuba City will probably have to cram 
their operations indoors, something they said would block their 
access to affordable medicine.

Four Yuba City City Council members at a Tuesday night workshop said 
they wanted to ban residents from growing medical marijuana unless 
they do it inside their homes or greenhouses.

Growers would also have to confine their plants to within a 
50-square-foot plot, enough space to grow four plants easily or six 
if they squeeze them in, said City Manager Steve Jepsen, who 
recommended banning outdoor grows, but allowing them indoors with restrictions.

"The backyard grows scare me," said Paul Rogers, of Yuba City. "If 
you have a gold mine in your backyard, it's going to attract crime."

Robbers and prowlers worry John Dukes, who was the lone councilman 
pushing for an outright ban on growing.

"We don't need (violence) in our neighborhoods. We need safe 
neighborhoods," he said. "Bullets don't know property lines."

Tej Maan said he thought the council also had a responsibility to be 
compassionate and give patients access to medicine that helps them 
cope with painful, debilitating ailments.

"Where are they supposed to get it?" Maan said of medical marijuana. 
"You can't go out and buy it. The dispensaries are closing down. You 
have to grow it."

Jepsen's ordinance will prevent some patients from growing because 
pushing cultivation indoors jacks up the cost, said Eric Salerno, a 
medical marijuana activist with Americans for Safe Access.

Building a greenhouse covering 50 square feet sells for $200 to $300, 
Salerno said before Tuesday's meeting. On top of that, growers need 
lighting, which costs hundreds of dollars to set up and $100 to $150 
in monthly electricity costs. A filtration system to eliminate the 
plant's smell fetches $300 to get running while new filters run $150 
a year, Salerno said.

"Growing indoors is so expensive," he said. "Some of the patients are 
disabled and on a limited income. Three hundred dollars isn't 
something they can afford."

Beau Green is one of them. He grows 25 plants for his father, but 
said he'll have to stop if he can't do it outside.

"I can't afford to grow indoors," Green said, adding that he is not 
alone. "I don't think this addresses the majority of the patients' 
needs in Yuba City."

Green said he couldn't think of another affordable way to get medical 

About 20 residents showed up to the meeting, most of them patients 
who grow and use medical marijuana.

Most of them urged the council to go back to the drawing board and 
continue to work on an ordinance that would allow outdoor grows.

Growers will have to meet other requirements if the council passes an 
ordinance based on the recommendation's Jepsen presented.

They would have to have a doctor's recommendation to use medical 
marijuana or be caring for someone who had one. Either the patient or 
the caregiver would have to live in Yuba City, a restriction Jepsen 
hopes will cut down on out-of-town growers.

"I don't want us to become a bastion of medical marijuana grows in 
California," he said.

Grows couldn't be within 1,000 feet of schools, libraries or parks. 
Greenhouses and backyard fences would have to have locks.

No evidence of marijuana cultivation could show from the street.

If growers don't comply, they'll face stiff penalties if the council 
adopts Jepsen's recommendation. The city would charge growers with a 
misdemeanor for breaking the law, a violation that could include a 
six-month jail term and a $500 fine for a first offense. The city 
would slap repeat offenders with $1,000 fines each day.

Said Jepsen: "The value of the crop is such that the fine has to be 


WHAT HAPPENED: A majority of Yuba City city council members said they 
wanted to ban growing medical marijuana outdoors, but allow it 
indoors with restrictions.

WHAT'S NEXT: City staff will draft an ordinance based on city manager 
Steve Jepsen's recommendations and return with it at the council's 
March 20 meeting.
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