Proposal Would Ban Backyard Pot Gardens

Proposal Would Ban Backyard Pot Gardens
Posted by CN Staff on April 15, 2005 at 10:49:55 PT
By Glenda Anderson, The Press Democrat
Source: Press Democrat
Ukiah, California -- Medical pot advocates have begun rallying against efforts to ban outdoor marijuana gardens in Ukiah.Ukiah officials are considering outlawing outdoor pot crops in residential neighborhoods in response to increased crime and complaints about the skunk-like stench of ripening marijuana plants.
Backyard pot gardens have proliferated in Ukiah since voters in 1996 approved Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medical use. Police estimate pot is being grown in 250 Ukiah yards.Ukiah would be the first Northern California city to ban backyard gardens. San Diego adopted a similar ordinance in 2003. Other cities, including Santa Rosa, San Francisco and Willits are considering restricting cannabis clubs.Early hearings on Ukiah's proposed zoning ordinance drew just a handful of opponents, but their ire and numbers have since grown. About 50 people attended a Ukiah Planning Commission workshop on the ordinance Wednesday night, most of them opposed to the restrictions."The Planning Commission was confronted by an organized mob of marijuana growers and advocates, the majority of whom don't even live in Ukiah," said Ukiah City Councilman John McCowen. "They were intent on shutting down any regulation. What got lost in the shuffle was the interest of law-abiding citizens who want to feel safe in their own homes and neighborhoods."Opponents of the proposal called it "draconian," "overreactive," and "absurd."Representatives of the Fort Bragg-based Medical Marijuana Patients Union promised to fight the plan politically and in the courts. Its members have been active in several high-profile legal cases challenging marijuana laws.As currently written, Ukiah's proposed ordinance would require that medical marijuana patients in residential neighborhoods grow their plants inside a secure, locked structure. The law would limit the number of mature plants to six per residential parcel. Additional plants could be grown, with permits, in industrial and commercial areas of the city.The ordinance also would prohibit growing pot near schools, parks and churches and require that caregivers - those who grow pot for others - undergo criminal background checks.Medical marijuana proponents found fault with all of the proposed requirements."We believe the council should start fresh," said Noel Frazer."It will be interesting to see what kind of alternative ordinance gets presented" at the next meeting in May, McCowen said.While the workshop comments were largely negative, even combative, there was one counter-proposal made to address the city's public safety concerns."Build community gardens where it's not done for money," said Dane Wilkins, executive director of the Northern California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)Author: Glenda Anderson, The Press DemocratPublished: Friday, April 15, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Press DemocratContact: letters pressdemo.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:Northern California NORML Plan To Control Pot Grows Criticized Seeks To Limit Medical Pot Looks at Restrictions on Pot Growing
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