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Roseville bans outdoor medical marijuana cultivation

Ordinance goes into effect Nov. 1, following 4-1 council vote
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Medical marijuana is to some people a plant that saves lives, but for others it's a public nuisance that affects their quality of life.

During the Roseville City Council meeting Wednesday, medical marijuana was center stage of a heated discussion among patients and residents. The hour-long debate ended with the council voting 4-1 in favor of banning the outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana. Councilman John Allard cast the dissenting vote.

Allard suggested the Placer County Air Pollution Control District could appropriately deal with pot-related odor complaints. Some residents say the outdoor growth of medical marijuana emits a "skunk-like" smell.

"If this is a nuisance-driven issue, then I don't understand what's driving it because we don't have very many complaints," Allard said.

Councilwoman Susan Rohan said the ban was fair to both sides.

"I think it's important for us to move forward with this ordinance," Rohan said. "I think it's the best that we can do right now to balance the concerns in the neighborhood and find a respectful way to deal with the issues and people who do need to grow."

The ordinance takes effect Nov. 1, at the end of the growing season, and prohibits the outdoor cultivation of medical pot and limits indoor growing to fewer than 50-square-feet and 10-feet tall in the grower's primary residence. The grower must maintain living areas in the house for normal use.

The city manager can grant permission for more space. Violations are punishable by a $500 daily fine.

Roseville has never allowed dispensaries within city limits, which means residents often grow their own medical marijuana. The growing season typically lasts six to eight weeks in late summer.

Opponents argue the restriction will lead to fire hazards and cause a financial burden on patients. Growers will have to install the proper lights and indoor exhaust equipment. Some patients may lack space to grow inside.

Bruce Estrada said he's an unemployed and disabled combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who relies on medical marijuana to treat his depression.

"My biggest concern with this ordinance moving this inside is it's ultimately going to drive the costs up," he said.

Ryan Landers - who helped pass Proposition 215 that gives California patients with a valid doctor's recommendation the right to possess and grow pot for personal medical use - warned that a ban would have unintended consequences.

"You are creating more crime in your community by sending patients to the black market," Landers said. "You have to allow patients to have the medicine they need."

Roseville resident Ora Roberts said he uses medical marijuana.

"Forcing me to grow indoors is going to make it so that I can't grow my own weed," Roberts said.

The pot ban was originally introduced in July 2011, but council members postponed a vote. In February, resident Jack Wallace asked the council to reconsider the proposal. His wife Marjorie Wallace spoke in support of the ordinance during Wednesday's meeting.

"It will undoubtedly benefit tens of thousands of Roseville residents in the future," she said.

Jennifer Cox said she was concerned about her young children being exposed to the smell of weed grown outdoors and worried about the negative impact on property values.

"Please protect my children and home values by enacting this ordinance," she said.

Several other residents said the odor prevents them from using their backyard barbecues, opening their windows, swimming in their pools and enjoying their outdoor space.

Councilwoman Carol Garcia said she felt the ban would help protect homeowners' investments and allow it so they could use their backyards.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.