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Balance Key To Marijuana Ordinance

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Supervisors voted unanimously to send a proposed medical marijuana ordinance to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation.

The ordinance would amend the existing zoning code regarding medical marijuana. It would prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries, medical marijuana collectives and outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana. It would also place regulations on indoor cultivation. Some of those restrictions would include limiting the space to grow plants to 32 square feet and allowing three pounds of processed pot to be stored.

Sara Herrin co-founder of Today’s Health Collective which was raided and shutdown said, “There is a medical need in this community to have access and it should not be a burden to patients. That means we don’t make them grow it inside. We don’t make them grow it within 32 square feet. We don’t have the cops coming to their house to make decisions about whether their house is compliant or not compliant. I just really find this to be very disturbing.”

Fibromyalgia patient Michelle Tennant called the added restrictions unfair. “I do not smoke it. I do not take it to get high. I take it for relief. I have to go to Oakdale to get my prescribed medication and your solution is no dispensaries, and now we have to grow it ourselves, in the dark, in secret. This isn’t fair,” said Tennant.

A working group was put together by County Counsel Sarah Carrillo to help draft the new ordinance. Members included Deputy County Counsel Carlyn Drivdahl, Health Officer Dr. Todd Stolp, Under-Sheriff Bill Pooley, former Under-Sheriff Keith Lunney, CRA Director Bev Shane and District Attorney Michael Knowles.

Knowles told the board public complaints about the nuisances surrounding outdoor marijuana cultivation including smell, sight, and crime had to addressed. “The conflict with the neighbors, it’s real and it’s becoming more prevalent. We’ve had a number of home invasions. We’ve had robberies and burglaries so it is a growing concern,” said Knowles.

Also at today’s meeting, several Supervisors told the audience the ordinance needs to be balanced and that is why it should go to the planning commission to address all the issues.

“It has to be reasonable,” said District Three Supervisor Evan Royce. “I know there are people out there with legitimate concerns, but I don’t want the reaction to the abuse to cause a negative impact to the people who legitimately use it.”

The planning commission will hold a public hearing on the ordinance and then make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors who will have the final say on adopting the ordinance.