CA - Holding up a framed photo of his 3-year-old granddaughter, Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams on Tuesday said he wanted to enact restrictions on medical marijuana gardens to protect children like her.
Three of his four fellow supervisors agreed, voting in favor of a controversial ordinance that would ban medical marijuana gardens within 1,000 feet of schools, school bus stops, churches, parks and child care centers and would limit the number of plants grown based on acreage.
"My thought through all of this whole process is how can we limit the number (of marijuana plants grown) in residential areas," Williams said.
He said he was inspired to write the ordinance after looking outside from his granddaughter's bedroom during a visit and seeing a medical marijuana garden.
The ordinance would require growers to register with the county Health Services Agency, have a notarized letter of consent from their property owner and shroud their plants behind a 6-foot fence.
Supervisors will again vote on the ordinance after another public hearing. Board chair Ron Warner said that vote likely won't be for at least three weeks because Supervisor Charles Willard, who cast the lone dissenting vote Tuesday, will be on vacation until then.
Willard said there are too many unanswered questions about the marijuana ordinance, including what defines a school bus stop and pending medical marijuana court cases in other parts of the state.
"I think this is a bad time for this ordinance," Willard said.
After hearing complaints last summer from Gerber residents about a marijuana garden close to a school bus stop, Williams proposed regulations for such gardens near schools and places frequented by children. Supervisors shelved that proposal, saying it was written too hastily.
Williams and Supervisor Gregg Avilla then headed an ad hoc committee to examine the issue. Over several months they met with the sheriff, district attorney, school administrators and medical marijuana advocates. The county released a draft of the ordinance at the end of last month.
Before Tuesday's vote, the board held a public hearing. For nearly two hours, people from opposing sides of the medical marijuana debate made their arguments. The most fiercely debated issue was whether there are negative impacts to growing medical marijuana near where children congregate.
"We don't want to take people's medicine away, but we want to protect the children," said Cherrie Kennedy, a board member of Gerber Union Elementary School District.
Punctuating the point later was Williams with the photograph of his granddaughter, who lives in the county.
But medical marijuana users have children, too, and there is no evidence that their gardens cause problems for children, said Jason Browne, 39, of Red Bluff.
"I think it is a smoke screen," he said.
Browne said he's had a small garden for eight to 12 patients since 1998.
He said the county's ordinance would violate state laws allowing medical marijuana and would likely result in a lawsuit.
"They are not going to stop us from growing our medicine," Browne said. "We have been growing it for a decade and we are not going to stop."
NewsHawk: User: http://www.420magazine.com/
Author: Dylan Darling
Copyright: 2010 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Website: New marijuana rules adopted in Tehama County Redding Record Searchlight
• Thanks to Irish for submitting this article