Pubdate: Thu, 08 Nov 2012
Source: Record, The (Stockton, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Record
Author: Keith Reid


LODI - Joshua Dougherty looked in on a new batch of marijuana 
seedlings that he had been growing in a closet in the upstairs of his 
south Lodi home Wednesday afternoon.

Dougherty, a medical marijuana patient, hopes to move the plants 
outside for harvesting in February. However, how and where he is able 
to plant the cannabis is something that will be in the hands of the 
Lodi City Council in the next month and a half.

The Lodi City Council approved a 45-day moratorium on all medical 
marijuana cultivation Wednesday night and directed the City 
Attorney's Office to draft an ordinance that will place limitations 
on how and where patients can grow marijuana within city limits.

"This is about being a good neighbor and what happens when people 
decide not to be good neighbors," City Attorney Steve Schwabauer 
said. "That's where zoning laws come in."

Dougherty has a medical marijuana prescription because he has 
ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Much of his intestines have 
been removed, he said, lifting his shirt to reveal a large surgical scar.

His cultivation practices, however, have made his south Lodi home the 
subject of scrutiny in Lodi.

A neighbor has complained on multiple occasions on how the "dead 
skunk" smell of Dougherty's plants during the harvest season, which 
runs in four-month cycles three times a year, permeates into the 
homes of neighbors.

Dougherty also has barbed wire in the backyard, below the fence line 
and out of sight from the street.

The result has been seven visits by police. Chief Mark Helms said at 
a recent meeting that Dougherty's operation is in compliance with the 
Compassionate Care Act.

"My neighbors who have complained have never approached me; they just 
called the police," Dougherty said. "Once I knew about their 
complaints, I bought a greenhouse and a filter system."

The greenhouse was a $1,200 investment, he said.

"But I can understand about the smell; that's why I bought the 
greenhouse. I don't want it to be a problem," he said.

Dougherty said when he first moved to Lodi about a year ago, he 
started cultivating indoors. The problems of growing indoors became 
twofold for him.

First, growing indoors resulted in an electricity bill of $1,400 a 
month. Second, the large bill tipped the city's code enforcement that 
he was likely growing marijuana. They came to his house and told him 
his setup did not meet code requirements and he had to plant outside.

Schwabauer said he will have an ordinance ready for the council's 
review within the 45-day moratorium period. It's likely the city will 
ban outdoor cultivation or set limitations that are enforceable if a 
person's crop is considered to be a nuisance.

Wednesday's meeting drew seven speakers, including Dougherty, 
encouraging the council to be compassionate in its rules.

Tokay High grad and Stockton resident Angel Raich - who has been a 
medical marijuana advocate on a national level - asked for a task 
force to provide input into an ordinance.

Mayor JoAnne Mounce directed Schwabauer to gather community input.

"I want to honor people's right to grow their medicine, but I don't 
want those rights to infringe on anybody else's rights," Mounce said. 
"What we need is a balance, and I think we can work to find that."

The moratorium bans all outdoor plants for 45 days and any indoor 
cultivation that can be smelled by the neighbors.

Dougherty said he can keep his seedlings because they won't be odorous.

Councilman Bob Johnson asked the community at large to weigh in on 
the issue and let the council know if it is in support of looser or 
stricter medical marijuana zoning laws or an all-out ban.
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