Pubdate: Thu, 01 Nov 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ryan McCarthy


Costs to Live Oak for defending a legal challenge to the city's ban 
on growing medical marijuana total $13,464 - a figure the mayor says 
is part of the price of protecting citizens, but the resident who 
filed the suit calls the cost "unreal."

"We don't need to be spending money on this," resident James Maral, 39, said.

Maral said if Live Oak allowed six to 12 plants at each house, the 
city wouldn't hear from him.

"I would go away," said Maral.

Mayor Gary Baland said Sutter County Superior Court found in the 
city's favor, but that Maral has appealed the decision to the state 
appellate court in Sacramento. The Sutter court ruling shows the 
ordinance is within the city's legal authority, Baland said.

Legal challenges by medical marijuana advocates to municipal measures 
in California are common, he added.

"No matter what ordinance you have, people are being taken to court," 
the mayor said.

Baland said the measure Live Oak adopted last December followed 49 
complaints by residents about marijuana grows.

City Manager Jim Goodwin said sites with tents occupied by people to 
protect marijuana grows were found across from Live Oak High School 
and near Little League baseball fields. Growers were calling the city 
to ask about putting up higher fences and using barbed wire to 
protect their property, Goodwin said. "What it represents is conflict 
between neighbors choosing to use their land differently," he said. 
"We're not passing any judgment on whether somebody uses medical marijuana."

Maral said he opposes irresponsible growers whose greed leads them to 
large gardens that spur objections by neighbors.

"The growers are the people messing it up for the patients," he said.

Maral, who said he uses marijuana after an accident crushed his leg 
and blew out six discs in his back, said a severe medical condition 
his mother has requires that she use the drug as well. The city's ban 
on growing medical marijuana has helped send her to the hospital, Maral said.

He appeared at the Oct. 17 meeting of the City Council, provided a 
photograph of his hospitalized mother and said, "This is your work."

Jason Banks, a council candidate in the Tuesday election and a 
medical marijuana user since a 2001 work accident that crushed his 
back, questioned Live Oak's legal costs to defend the ban.

"It's essentially wasted money," Banks said. "There are so many other 
things that we need to do.

"I'd be surprised it ends there," he said of the $13,000 spent so 
far. "I don't think this is going away."

Maral is driving around the community with signs urging voters to 
oppose Baland and Councilman Rob Klotz. He said he will extend his 
opposition to other council members if necessary.

"They say they care about Live Oak," Maral added of city officials, 
"but they only care about the rich people or people in the church."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom