Pubdate: Wed, 16 May 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ben van der Meer


Sutter County supervisors took the first step toward a medical 
marijuana nuisance ordinance on Tuesday evening in a slightly more 
subdued, but no less scrutinized, fashion than other jurisdictions 
have approached the issue.

County officials said they were trying to take the cautious approach, 
introducing a draft ordinance at a board workshop while also 
emphasizing they wanted feedback before voting on it later.

"This is a very litigious area of the law, as you might imagine," 
County Administrative Officer Stephanie Larsen told the board, 
explaining how a similar ordinance in Tehama County has so far passed 
legal challenges. "We didn't want to end up with something where we'd 
be in court."

Under Sutter's draft ordinance, growers would be limited to no more 
than 12 mature or 24 immature plants on parcels of 20 acres or less, 
with correspondingly more plants on larger parcels. Growing would be 
banned next to schools, churches and other areas where children might 
congregate, and growers would have to register with the county.

The ordinance would also have setback and fencing requirements to 
shield the plants from outside view.

More than a dozen speakers at the workshop gently, but firmly urged 
the county to be careful, describing an ordinance that limited access 
as denying sick people medicine.

"I'm not the best speaker, but I know it helps my body," said William 
Lyle, a Sutter resident.

Some speakers among the two dozen people who attended the meeting, 
also had a second message, telling supervisors that residents who 
complained of marijuana odors in their neighborhood were ignoring a 
rural setting where not every smell pleases everyone.

Patrick Graham, a Sutter resident, said he gets allergies from a 
neighboring almond orchard. "I am not going to tell those people they 
cannot grow," he said. "I take a Claritin and go about my day."

Though most speakers identified themselves as medical marijuana users 
or growers, two urged the board to act because they said the plant 
has already become a problem where they live.

Kathleen Goodnight said she was skeptical about profane young men in 
her neighborhood who appear to be growing medical marijuana but also 
appear to be in good health. "But that's the image that's out there," she said.

Supervisors said they appreciated the comments and encouraged more of 
them, but also wanted those who were concerned about the draft 
ordinance to read it and be specific in what troubled them.

And they suggested some changes, with Supervisor James Gallagher 
pointing out possible confusion in unincorporated communities near 
Yuba City, which has adopted a more restrictive ordinance.

He also said the county's draft ordinance might lack teeth.

"If people have to pay fines and penalties, that usually makes them 
quick to comply," he said of other code enforcement issues.

Larsen said a copy of the county's draft ordinance and a slide show 
laying out the background for it would be posted on the county's 
website. She did not give a date for when the board would consider 
the draft ordinance for possible adoption.


WHAT HAPPENED: The Sutter County Board of Supervisors had a public 
workshop Tuesday in Yuba City over the draft version of a medical 
marijuana nuisance ordinance.

WHAT'S NEXT: The county will continue to take comments and make 
revisions as necessary to the ordinance before the board takes a 
possible vote at a later meeting.

ONLINE: The draft ordinance is expected to be posted today at
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