Pubdate: Wed, 15 Aug 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Nancy Pasternack


The Wheatland City Council voted Tuesday to forbid outdoor 
cultivation of medical marijuana and to continue prohibition of 
dispensaries by way of a land use ordinance.

A change to the city's zoning code in 2010 made it unlawful to open a 
dispensary in the town of less than 3,000 residents.

The "urgency ordinance" was renewed in 2011.

Citing a need to compromise between federal laws that forbid the 
cultivation and sale of the drug, and the Compassionate Use Act - a 
1996 state law whose parameters have yet to be clarified - City 
Attorney Richard Shanahan laid out the difficult position in which 
counties and municipalities continue to find themselves.

"We had hoped by the time we got here, a clearer legal framework 
would have been adopted with which to operate," Shanahan said.

But courts, he said, "have been going every which way."

A continued lack of clarity regarding legal production, sale and use 
of the drug, Shanahan said, made it necessary to expand the city's 
restrictions to include outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana.

"It's a big decision for the council," he said. "We took a middle of 
the road approach."

A few Wheatland residents commented on the city's new policy.

"Are you saying I could grow pot in my house?" said longtime resident 
June Swift. "Wouldn't that open me up to people breaking in to steal it?"

City officials said the new rules were meant to make the monito ing 
of such operations easier and limit enticements to criminals.

Benjamin Bartholomew was sarcastic about the city's new regulations.

"I have news. People without medical marijuana get robbed too," he 
said. The ordinance, Barthol-omew said, would do nothing to prevent crime.

Criminals, he said, "aren't going to say, 'Oh wait. It's in a house.'"

Craig Jones said he sympathized with the difficult position the city is in.

A property owner near his grandmother's house in Lincoln, he said, 
has leased his grounds to growers of medical marijuana.

"When that smell comes over on a windy day, it makes her sick," Jones 
said. "If you allow people to do it (grow the plants) it will affect 
all the neighbors around it."

On the other hand, he said, his own father is medically approved to 
use the drug, and he benefits from it, Jones said.

Councilmen David Coe and Rick West said they were in favor of making 
medical marijuana available to those who need it for medical reasons, 
but did not feel it was necessary to have it grown locally.

Growing restrictions laid out by the city include distance from 
schools and parks and are borrowed from legislation aimed at 
registered sex offenders.

The new document lays out parameters regarding who can grow the plant 
indoors and under what conditions.

The growing area, for instance, is not to exceed 50 square feet or 10 
feet in height, and plants are not to come within a foot of the 
ceiling of the enclosed structure.

Setbacks, ventilation, filtering and limits to the total light 
wattage that can be used all are laid out in the ordinance.

The measures are similar to those laid out recently by other cities 
and counties.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom