The Shasta County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted an ordinance Tuesday banning medical marijuana dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county and narrowly passed a second law hours later regulating pot growth for county residents.

"I am convinced based on the testimony today of the legal sufficiency of our actions, and I also believe, while inconvenient, there's a certain amount of reasonableness associated" with banning dispensaries, said Supervisor David Kehoe.

But dozens of medical pot advocates at Tuesday's meeting didn't see it that way.

James Benno of Redding said the county's rationale is "laughable."

"I don't know what you guys are trying to pull" by taking away medicine, Benno said. "I really don't understand what your logic and thinking is."

Benno, who later cursed at supervisors repeatedly, got up to leave the meeting and was escorted out by a deputy at the request of Supervisor Les Baugh.

Before the meeting began, medical marijuana supporters lined the street outside the administration building waving signs denouncing the proposals.

About 60 people attended Tuesday morning's session, which resumed from recess around 1:30 p.m. for the second round of the meeting.

The board in November will re-examine the second new law, which introduced pot restrictions to county growers. The county has never before had growing regulations.

The growth ordinance passed on a 3-2 vote with Supervisors Les Baugh and Linda Hartman dissenting. Both asked for the proposal to go back to the county planning staff to re-examine it in light of their own concerns that the law might not be restrictive enough and those posed by the public.

The cultivation ordinance bans growing inside residences, but allows it in detached accessory structures and sets limits for outdoor growing regardless of how many patients live at a residence.

Residents with less than an acre couldn't grow any more than 60 square feet of marijuana, while those living on more than 1 but less than 2 acres could grow up to 100 square feet. Similarly, those with 2 to just under 5 acres could grow 150 square feet and people living on 5 acres up to 20 could grow 240 square feet of pot.

Those with 20 acres or more would be limited to 360 square feet of plants.

The gardens also would have to meet minimum setbacks from parcel lines and adjacent residences.

The growth ordinance also sets a 1,000-foot "no-grow" zone between cultivation sites and "sensitive areas," such as schools, youth organizations, school bus stops or churches.

Neil Fairburn, 65, said the growing restrictions are "out of line."

"The marijuana has helped me, and you're telling me I'm only going to get 60 square feet to grow it? That's not going to fly," he said.

Russ Mull, director of Resource Management for the county, told concerned medical marijuana patients the ordinance is only meant only to prevent illegal sales, so county employees won't be hunting for minor violations.

"We don't have enough time or interest in doing that," he said.

Some at Tuesday's meeting didn't think the ordinance will do enough to control pot grows.

Elizabeth Healy said she's "concerned and heart-sickened" by the marijuana "crisis" in the area.

"The entire nature of our sweet, safe neighborhood has been horribly compromised," she said regarding a pot-growing neighbor. Healy said she wants the county to require 2,000 feet between grows and schools.

Others argued that stricter regulations on pot will only aid drug cartels.

"It's ( a problem ) because it's not regulated," said Matthew Meyer. "It's going to be here. The question is, who is going to be producing it, selling it and buying it?"

Jess Brewer, owner of Trusted Friends collective in Redding, had similar concerns, adding that patients need a way to get their medicine now that the city's shut down its pot dispensaries.

"I believe that it's ( crime ) not going to go away. What we would like is for true patients to be able to get medicine safely," said Jess Brewer, owner of Trusted Friends collective in Redding. "I'm just asking that you would think about the medical patients in this county."

Marcia Jones, who said she's a medical marijuana patient, said patients like her rely on elected officials to protect them.

"I would really rather not see the people of my state and my county hook up with these guys ( drug dealers )," Jones said."Please do regulate us. Please do give us a way to live healthfully, comfortably."

For nearly two years now, there's been a moratorium on dispensaries in rural Shasta County. Redding's recent shutdown came about in response to the Pack v. Long Beach ruling, which said federal anti-marijuana law trumped the city of Long Beach's medical marijuana ordinance.



Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Record Searchlight
Contact: letters@redding.com
Website: Redding Record Searchlight: Local Redding, California News Delivered Throughout the Day.