Pubdate: Mon, 30 Dec 2013
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2013 The Press Democrat
Author: Glenda Anderson


Marijuana advocates have launched a referendum aimed at quashing a
newly revised Lake County ordinance that bans outdoor marijuana
cultivation in residential neighborhoods.

The new ordinance is too strict, said Lake County resident Michael
Horner, a member of the group that launched the referendum, the
Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation.

The group believes the best way to rid the county of "transient
criminal growers" is to enact responsible regulations, Horner said.

His organization is working on an alternative ordinance to replace the
county's ordinance, he said.

Voters last year soundly defeated a pro-marijuana ordinance that would
have allowed pot growers to cultivate up to 12 mature plants in
residential backyards of less than a half-acre and larger amounts on
bigger parcels.

A revised ordinance was adopted Dec. 17 by the Lake County Board of
Supervisors, which allows indoor growing in residential neighborhoods
in the unincorporated county. The referendum's proponents erroneously
claim in a press release that the ordinance bans all cultivation in
residential subdivisions.

Many cities on the North Coast also have banned outdoor

The Lake County ordinance allows outdoor growing on parcels larger
than an acre, with up to a maximum of 48 plants on agricultural
parcels larger than 20 acres.

County supervisors said they adopted the ordinance in an effort to
control rampant pot-growing and its associated stench, which keeps
residents from enjoying their own properties.

Marijuana growing also attracts crime, including robberies that have
resulted in death, officials noted.

The most recent example is an attempted robbery near Upper Lake on
Christmas morning. A suspected robber was shot dead and the residents
were arrested on drug and weapons charges. Sheriff's officials said
they found nearly 1,000 pounds of marijuana and 17 firearms on
properties linked to the shooter.

Horner said illegal large-scale growers likely would be driven out of
the county if it is easier for medical marijuana patients to grow
their own pot.

The county's revised ordinance extended and tightened rules that were
adopted by supervisors last year over the objection of marijuana advocates.

The revisions include rules aimed at preventing electrical fires at
indoor marijuana-growing operations and controlling environmental
damage from erosion and pesticides.

It goes into effect Jan. 17 unless the referendum's proponents collect
nearly 2,200 valid signatures from registered voters in the county.

They have until Jan. 16 to produce the signatures, Horner

The referendum's proponents are working in cooperation with other
marijuana advocacy groups, including the Green Farmers, Patients
Rights Coalition, Emerald Growers Association and Americans For Safe
Access, he said.  
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