Amador County medical-marijuana patients will be able to grow their medicine in outdoor gardens this year, although those plots will be smaller than they had hoped.
The Amador County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to lift a 4-month-old ban on medical pot gardens and allow any single garden to be used to grow as many as 12 plants per patient for as many as two patients for a maximum of 24 plants. That is only a third of the capacity recommended in February by the county’s Planning Commission.
Memories of a deadly marijuana-garden robbery near Ione in September were on supervisors’ minds as they discussed the issue.
“It’s just an invitation to criminal activity,” said Supervisor Brian Oneto, whose district includes River Pines and Fiddletown, both communities where county officials report that medical marijuana grows have caused tension between neighbors.
“I think personally 72 plants on a parcel is too many,” Oneto said.
Amador supervisors passed an ordinance in November banning all outdoor marijuana growing. That ban came after county officials said they’d received complaints from neighbors that range from the odor of the plants to fears the gardens would attract crime.
Amador County medical marijuana patients say they are being punished because of the problems caused by large commercial operations seeking to cash in on marijuana production.
Medical-marijuana community members said Tuesday the recommended 72-plant limit was a compromise that would restrict problems caused by large grows, but didn’t fully meet patient needs.
“It will not be enough to get some patients through the whole year,” said Robert Allen, a medical marijuana patient.
Although supervisors said they were sympathetic, they also noted repeatedly their discomfort with marijuana and their sense that there’s a cultural divide between those who use it and those who don’t.
Supervisor John Plasse at one point said that it “surprised the heck out of me” to learn that some of his longtime friends are marijuana users. Later, Plasse made a joke about how growing medical marijuana might be a quick way to earn money.
Several patients said after the meeting they were insulted by Plasse’s comment and other remarks indicating disrespect for medical-marijuana patients.
County planning director Susan Grijalva will make the revisions and bring the ordinance back to the board March 27 for formal approval. It will take effect 30 days after that.