Medical marijuana plant grows would move indoors if the Madera County Board of Supervisors gives final approval next month to regulations on cultivating the plants.
On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved the first reading of the proposed ordinance. A second hearing and the final vote is scheduled for March 13.
The ordinance would allow qualified medical marijuana users to cultivate plants in no more than 100 square feet of space on property they own and live at, said Norman Allinder, Madera County planning director.
The number of plants grown within that space would not be regulated, he said.
“This isn’t a value judgment” on medical marijuana users, Allinder said, but an attempt to accommodate qualified users and stop drug dealers. In recent years, drug dealers have moved marijuana plantings from Madera County mountains into backyards or houses, often taking over the whole house, he said.
Restricting cultivation may help curb the crime and violence often associated with outdoor marijuana gardens, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said in a report to the board.
Under the medical marijuana ordinance, only property owners could grow medical marijuana and only indoors, either in one room of a single-family house or in a detached building.
The growing space would be limited to 100 square feet and the plants could not be taller than six feet. That’s about the size of a laundry room or a garden shed. “We want to keep cultivation from taking over the whole house,” Allinder said.
Indoor plantings would not be allowed in commercial or industrial areas or within 2,000 feet of public buildings, such as schools or churches.
A staff report on the ordinance noted that use of medical marijuana is allowed by state law, but is illegal under federal law.
Violation of any part of the county’s ordinance would be a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.