Live Oak bans medical marijuana cultivation
The Live Oak City Council on Wednesday night banned residents from growing their own medical marijuana.
Marijuana grows plague the city with an unbearable stench and fear of violence, ban supporters said. Council members agreed on 5-0 vote.
"I don't want people to be afraid, in their front yard, in their backyard, to be afraid for their children to play," said councilwoman Diane Hodges.
The council is set to finalize the vote at its Dec. 21 meeting. The ban would take effect 30 days after that on Jan. 20.
Opponents said the city was taking away their medicine.
"They're cutting our throats," said James Maral, a 39-year-old Live Oak resident who grows 12 marijuana plants he uses to ease his chronic back pain and intestinal problems. "I have severe pain I can't stop."
Residents didn't stop from voicing their opinions. About 60 crammed into City Hall. Some 40 of them stood when asked who supported the ban, while a half dozen rose in opposition.
Supporters complained of the smell, including Rita Taylor, who says she would walk her child around the neighborhood except for the stink.
"It smells really bad," the 34-year-old Live Oak resident said. "I cannot take my child to the park, it smells so bad."
Taylor is not alone. Nearly 50 people grow their own medical marijuana, according to the Sutter County Sheriff's Department. The department knows about them because 49 people complained about the odor, guard dogs and fences topped with razor wire. Moreover, growers have asked about using firearms and stun guns to protect their crops.
"How many of you need barbed wire, guard dogs and guns to guard your medicine cabinets?" asked William Rogers, 44, of Live Oak.
Councilman Ray Rogers told a story about his recent ride-along through Linda and Olivehurst with the Sheriff's Department. The deputy he was with told him there were three shootings in Olivehurst in the previous month, all related to marijuana grows.
"We do not want to become like Linda or Olivehurst," Rogers said before voting for the ban.
Opponents said complaints about odor and a "fortress mentality" to protect marijuana crops were overblown.
"We don't have guns and weapons and all that crap," Maral said.
He doesn't plan to stop growing, but to start a growers' association in Live Oak to overturn the new ordinance.
"This ain't the end."
CONTACT reporter Jonathan Edwards at 749-4780.