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Patient launches campaign against proposed pot ban

Roseville City Council will consider ordinance late this year
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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A Roseville man has launched a campaign to keep a proposed ban on outdoor medical marijuana cultivation off the books. Mike Waak, 46, says the best way to prevent the ordinance is through education, suggesting some residents might not understand the users of medical marijuana. “We’re not just a bunch of potheads,” Waak said. “Cheech and Chong do not personify the lifestyles of medical marijuana patients.” He started a Facebook page, called Friends of Roseville Cannabis, to raise awareness and recently met with Mayor Pauline Roccucci to share his concerns over the proposal, which would ban outdoor medical marijuana gardens. The ordinance was originally introduced at the July 20 meeting, but the Roseville City Council postponed a vote. Residents expressed concerns about the smell and potential crime associated with outdoor cultivation of pot. The council is not expected to vote on the item until late this year, said Roseville Police spokeswoman Dee Dee Gunther. In the meantime, Waak hopes to rally those opposed to the ban. He is urging these people to attend tonight’s council meeting to speak out during public comment. During last month’s meeting, Police Chief Daniel Hahn said his department receives calls on a weekly basis from residents concerned about outdoor weed gardens they spot in backyards or on porches. The majority of these plants belong to legal users, he said. Under Proposition 215, California patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation have the right to possess and grow pot for personal medical use. Cities can regulate how, when and where medical marijuana is grown. Gunther said the police department doesn’t know the exact number of users in Roseville because they are not required to register with the city. Waak began using medical marijuana in 2009, after suffering a severe head injury and several broken bones from a car accident. He also has cerebral palsy and cancer. Until the accident, he was a terminal manager for a large bus company, overseeing 30 employees. Following the accident, he took prescription medications to ease the pain. Side effects included seizures, spasticity, vertigo and stuttering, he said. In 2010, he quit the pills and tried medical marijuana. “The result is a higher quality of life,” Waak said. “I’m not in a prescription drug-induced fog all the time.” He said that moving cultivation indoors will cost growers more in electric bills. They will also have to build an interior enclosure and install proper lights and indoor exhaust equipment, which can be expensive. A user might lack space to grow in his house or apartment. Roseville does not allow medical marijuana dispensaries within city limits, so patients either have to grow their own pot at their residence or travel to another city to buy the medicine. This can be a problem for physically disabled patients, Waak said. Waak lives in a 1,000-square-foot two-bedroom duplex in the Cresthaven neighborhood, which is at the center of the proposed pot ban. Jack Wallace, president of the Cresthaven Neighborhood Association, brought the issue to the city’s attention after a neighbor complained of the “skunk” smell of outdoor weed plants. Wallace said a secondary concern is potential crime related to outdoor gardens. “If it wasn’t as widely known (by being grown indoors), it’s less likely there would be a robbery, which might hurt innocent bystanders,” Wallace told the Press Tribune. During the July 20 meeting, Hahn acknowledged other cities have passed similar outdoor medical marijuana bans. “One of the significant concerns jurisdictions have is the violence they have seen, such as robberies, burglaries and shootings, regarding outdoor marijuana gardens,” Hahn said. “We have not seen this sort of activity in Roseville.” He noted two recent incidents involving medical marijuana stolen from an Auburn residence and an alleged illegal pot sale turned armed robbery in the Westfield Galleria parking lot. “Prohibiting medical marijuana growing only hurts patients,” Waak said. “It doesn’t do anything to stifle the illegal activity. All patients need to start getting out and learning what our rights are. We need shareholder meetings. We need public education. We need cooperation from the city.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.