Supes weigh in on pot grows
In a bizarre meeting filled with misunderstandings, board votes to regulate growing for recreational use
Proposition 64, approved by California voters in November, makes it legal for each residence to grow up to six plants.
“Is that six plants per resident or per residence?” Butte County Supervisor Larry Wahl asked as clarification during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the board.
“Residence,” replied Chief Deputy County Counsel Brad Stephens.
“So, three people living in a house can each grow six plants?” Wahl asked. “No …”
And that was pretty much how it went during Tuesday’s discussion of a proposed county ordinance to regulate the growing of recreational marijuana in unincorporated areas.
As Stephens explained to the panel, the proposed ordinance mirrors restrictions on medical grows set forth in Measure A, with a few exceptions. Instead of limiting grow areas by square footage based on lot size, it simply limits where people can grow based on lot size. So, for recreational grows on lots under 5 acres, people must grow indoors. Larger lots allow for outdoor gardens, with setbacks, fencing and other restrictions identical to those in Measure A.
“So, if someone wants to grow medical and recreational marijuana, can they grow both?” Wahl asked. The answer is yes, and that’s where Code Enforcement may encounter some difficulty, Stephens said. Wahl then suggested that the county shouldn’t allow outdoor growing of recreational pot. Chairman Bill Connelly later voiced his opinion, as a contractor, that “If we force everyone to grow indoors, we’re going to create more dangers.”
Stephens explained that the county would come back, likely over the summer, to discuss issues regarding the commercial aspects of Prop. 64, including dispensaries and commercial grows. When it came time for public comment, however, several people asked for clarification. Loretta Torres, for instance, said she’d like to see the ordinance “beefed up” to include verbiage making selling and transportation of marijuana illegal.
A man named Dave approached the podium and requested that the county just become a dry county. “What’s the matter with these people? They want us to sacrifice our way of life just so they can get high?” he said. “You need to grow up and stop catering to all these pot heads out there. They say it’s medicine—it’s not medicine! The devil’s got a hold of them!”
Jessica MacKenzie, representing herself and the Inland Cannabis Farmers’ Association, approached for her three-plus minutes (the time limit was set at three minutes, but halfway through public comment, Connelly said, “Everyone’s pretty much taken four minutes—might as well make it four minutes,” prompting some who’d already spoken to repeatedly ask for an additional minute).
“You should let people know that you’re looking out for them,” she told the board, explaining that it’s already legal for people to grow for recreational use. So, without an ordinance, there aren’t restrictions on lot size, etc. She did request that the limit on outdoor grows be dropped to lots 2 acres or less instead of 5. Also, she opposed a provision requiring filtration systems for indoor grows, which could prove quite costly.
Candace Grubbs, county clerk-recorder, approached the board and had Connelly hang a map on the wall depicting where the concentrations of people who voted in favor of medical marijuana grow restrictions lived, showing they were mostly in the county’s rural communities. Grubbs, who lives in the county, said with all the pot grows popping up, “I wouldn’t want my grandchildren growing up here.”
In response, a man named Anthony said he’s seen a lot of businesses closing lately. “The reason you don’t want your grandchildren growing up here is that there aren’t any opportunities for them here. Times are changing and we need to adapt—do we want to fall behind or do we want to lead the way? If you want less growing, give people a place to get their medicine, and their recreational marijuana.”
That discussion, however, will happen over the summer.
Ultimately, after some more debate and misunderstandings, the board voted 3-to-2, with Wahl and Supervisor Steve Lambert dissenting, to approve the ordinance.