Pubdate: Wed, 14 Mar 2012
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Record
Author: Dana M. Nichols


JACKSON - Amador County medical-marijuana patients will be able to 
grow their medicine in outdoor gardens this year, although those 
plots will be smaller than they had hoped.

The Amador County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to 
lift a 4-month-old ban on medical pot gardens and allow any single 
garden to be used to grow as many as 12 plants per patient for as 
many as two patients for a maximum of 24 plants. That is only a third 
of the capacity recommended in February by the county's Planning Commission.

Memories of a deadly marijuana-garden robbery near Ione in September 
were on supervisors' minds as they discussed the issue.

"It's just an invitation to criminal activity," said Supervisor Brian 
Oneto, whose district includes River Pines and Fiddletown, both 
communities where county officials report that medical marijuana 
grows have caused tension between neighbors.

"I think personally 72 plants on a parcel is too many," Oneto said.

Amador supervisors passed an ordinance in November banning all 
outdoor marijuana growing. That ban came after county officials said 
they'd received complaints from neighbors that range from the odor of 
the plants to fears the gardens would attract crime.

Amador County medical marijuana patients say they are being punished 
because of the problems caused by large commercial operations seeking 
to cash in on marijuana production.

Medical-marijuana community members said Tuesday the recommended 
72-plant limit was a compromise that would restrict problems caused 
by large grows, but didn't fully meet patient needs.

"It will not be enough to get some patients through the whole year," 
said Robert Allen, a medical marijuana patient.

Although supervisors said they were sympathetic, they also noted 
repeatedly their discomfort with marijuana and their sense that 
there's a cultural divide between those who use it and those who don't.

Supervisor John Plasse at one point said that it "surprised the heck 
out of me" to learn that some of his longtime friends are marijuana 
users. Later, Plasse made a joke about how growing medical marijuana 
might be a quick way to earn money.

Several patients said after the meeting they were insulted by 
Plasse's comment and other remarks indicating disrespect for 
medical-marijuana patients.

County planning director Susan Grijalva will make the revisions and 
bring the ordinance back to the board March 27 for formal approval. 
It will take effect 30 days after that.
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