Another bad pot plan

Overly restrictive county ordinance a slap in the face of voters

On Tuesday, Aug. 28, beginning at 1 p.m., the Butte County Board of Supervisors will consider another ordinance regulating the cultivation of medical marijuana. This one is certain to elicit even more opposition than the board’s earlier ordinance that was overturned by referendum in the June election.

If the voters who soundly rejected that ordinance did so because they agreed with the organizers of the referendum that it was overly restrictive, they’re likely to be even less fond of the new proposal, which asks them to make some serious trade-offs.

On one hand, the ordinance eliminates most restrictions on the number of plants that can be grown. Instead it limits the size of growing areas: 50 square feet on parcels smaller than an acre and 150 square feet on parcels of one to five acres. On parcels larger than five acres, the growing area can be any size, but no more than 99 plants can be grown.

The big difference is that these plants cannot be grown outdoors like tomatoes. They must be enclosed in a secure structure equipped with a county-approved ventilation and filtration system that keeps the odor of mature plants from being smelled from the outside, an expensive requirement.

What’s noticeably missing from the new ordinance is any sense that the supervisors were willing to compromise with the voting majority. Their sympathies clearly lie with those who complain about marijuana gardens, not those who depend on the herb for medical relief. We aren’t holding our breath that they will be more respectful of the democratic process at their meeting Tuesday, but we certainly hope so.