Yuba City bans outdoor pot growing
WHAT: Limits medical marijuana to growing indoors.
TAKES EFFECT: Immediately.
HOW LONG: 45 days. A year if the City Council extends it.
FINES: $500 a day.
Yuba City residents who grow marijuana to cope with pain, nausea and anxiety will have to do so indoors or not at all.
In a 4-0 vote, the Yuba City City Council passed an urgency ordinance banning residents from growing medical marijuana outdoors. Residents can move their plants indoors so long as they register with the city, limit plot a to 50 square feet, hide evidence of its operation from onlookers and lock up their yard as well as their greenhouses.
Growing inside is hard work, dwarfs the size of the plants and shrinks yield, said Teri Douyon, of Yuba City, when she attended last week's medical marijuana workshop with Yuba City officials.
"It's hard," she said, saying her condition prevents her from putting in the physical work needed to farm. "It's a lot to put on someone who's sick."
Growing marijuana is a lot to put on people who have to smell the budding plants and deal with armed thugs looking to steal the cash crop, opponents have said.
City Council members said they hope the ordinance they passed Tuesday eliminates those problems. An urgency ordinance requires four out of five council members to sign on. Mayor John Miller was absent because he was out of town on business, said City Manager Steve Jepsen. The ordinance took effect immediately and lasts for 45 days. The council can extend the urgency ordinance for 10 months and 15 days, which Jepsen said he plans to push for.
"We'll see how this year goes," he said.
The city plans to slap violators with $500 a day fine, something Jepsen said was necessary since a marijuana crop is so valuable.
Councilman John Dukes said he was game to go along with the ordinance because there is a need to let patients know what they can and can't do as they start planting this year's crop. However, he does not want indoor growing to be the city's permanent solution.
"I really favor an outright ban," Dukes said.
He voted for the temporary ordinance, but told his colleagues he planned to push one banning all pot growing.
Jepsen said at a medical marijuana workshop last week that he would bring back an ordinance to the council at its March 20 meeting. He decided instead to rush an urgency ordinance before the council.
"It just seemed fair," he said after Tuesday's meeting to let pot growers know the rules before planting starts.
Tuesday's meeting was lightly attended for an issue that has drawn hundreds of residents to four workshops over the past three months. At one point, officials split residents into two groups because the issue was so polarizing.
Fifteen people attended Tuesday's meeting and one person spoke on the issue.
"I'm a little surprised by the lack of attendance," Jepsen said. "Did we let people know about this?"
The city posted an agenda for the meeting late last week and sent emails to residents who signed up at previous medical marijuana workshops, said city clerk Terrel Locke.
CONTACT reporter Jonathan Edwards at email@example.com or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADjedwards or on Twitter at @ADjedwards.