Pubdate: Wed, 23 Dec 2015
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Chico Enterprise-Record
Note: Letters from newspaper's circulation area receive publishing priority
Author: Trevor Warner, Paradise Post


Paradise - After about two hours of public testimony, a proposed 
ordinance that would ban medical marijuana cultivation, delivery and 
distribution in Paradise town limits passed the town planning 
commission with a 3-2 vote.

A crowd of about 50 to 60 showed up to voice their opinion for and 
against. Most of the speakers were opposed to the ordinance, saying 
it will criminalize something the state has made legal. Other 
supporters said they use medical marijuana because it doesn't have 
the same side effects as pharmaceuticals. Still others argued that 
prohibition simply opens up a black market and encourages crime.

Supporters of the ordinance said their quality of life is compromised 
due to the smell of the plants. Others were concerned that allowing 
marijuana gardens will bring various criminal elements to the neighborhood.

Among speakers was Fernando Marin, who said he suffers from tumors 
and was prescribed several different medications.

"I had to find different prescriptions just to control the pain, but 
it was destroying the rest of my life with the side effects," he 
said. "This is a quality of life issue."

Marvin Debrunner said he suffers from Lyme's disease and he has grown 
his own medical marijuana for more than 20 years. He said he isn't in 
trouble with the law and pays all his taxes. He grows six plants a 
year, which gives him what he needs for his personal use.

"The thing that's not being brought up here is that you're taking 
away my medicine," he said.

As far as the smell is concerned, Debrunner said he can smell it when 
neighbors use pesticides around their house. He can also smell the 
odor of outdoor burning, or when neighbors burn their trash in the 
fireplace, he said.

"I don't think (the odor complaint) is legitimate," he said.

If the resolution passes, he will be a part of a class-action lawsuit 
against the town, he said.

Dan Miller-George said he will ignore the ordinance if it passes. 
Miller-George recently moved to Paradise from Lake County, where a 
similar ordinance was proposed.

"It was a big, expensive mess," he said.

"Are you guys going to have men with guns going after people with 
real medical conditions because it doesn't smell nice? Really? Have 
you guys no shame?" he asked.

"I don't plan on obeying, I might as well say it right now, and you 
have my address," he said. "I'll grow marijuana inside my house if I 
feel the need."

Town Attorney Dwight Moore said the ordinance is in response to new 
laws that will take effect in January 2016 standardizing medical 
marijuana business practices throughout the state.

Supporters of the ordinance said their quality of life is compromised 
due to the smell of the notoriously odoriferous plant. Others were 
concerned that allowing marijuana gardens will bring various criminal 
elements to the neighborhood.

Realtor Dan Henry said it makes it difficult to sell homes when 
buyers see there is a marijuana garden next door.

"They typically pass because they're concerned about the crime and 
the elements that go with it," he said.

He said he hopes a solution can be found that will benefit everyone, 
but that he supports the proposed ordinance.

Veteran James Riotto said he felt sorry for those who need the 
medicine, but felt medical marijuana is also infringing on his rights 
and quality of life.

"I have a right as a citizen to sit in my backyard and enjoy my 
pleasure and I cannot do that," he said.

He said his neighbors are cultivating and processing 36 plants.

"The smell is horrendous, I can't even have my granddaughters or 
grandsons visit me because of the smell," he said. "Something has to be done."

He also questioned the legitimacy of medical marijuana.

"If medical marijuana is so good, why can't it be dispensed like any 
other drug through the drug industry?" he asked.

Vice-chair Martin Nichols said the issue before the commission is a 
land use issue, not one of whether medical marijuana is good or bad. 
He said the issue is no different legally or intellectually than 
whether to allow residents to keep pigs in their back yard.

He made a motion to pass the ordinance.

Commission chair Jim Clarkson, said passions were strong on both 
sides of the issue and encouraged both opponents and supporters to 
listen to the concerns of others in hopes of finding an adequate solution.

Clarkson gave a personal testimony about his own medical marijuana 
use after being diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer.

"I grew my own plants," he said. "I did that because I wanted 
something that was organic. I knew what was going into the ground, I 
knew what I was going to be using on the plants to help get the 
plants to where I needed them to be."

He no longer needs medical marijuana because he has returned to 
health, he said. He also didn't like the "foggy head" and some of the 
other side effects of medical marijuana, but said it was preferable 
to the side effects of prescription pharmaceuticals.

That being said, he also understands that people want to enjoy their 
property free from outside distractions, whether it's from barking 
dogs or smelly plants.

"There's got to be some recognition that what we're trying to do up 
here is make the town as nice an environment for us all to live as 
possible," he said. "I think it is important that we consider both 
sides of the fence and try to come out with something that works for 
as many people as possible."

Nichols and commissioners Stephanie Neumann and Ray Groom voted in 
favor of the ordinance. Clarkson and commissioner Anita Towslee voted 
against it.

The ordinance is expected to go before the Paradise Town Council in January.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom