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New Indoor Grow Rules in Sacramento County

Sacramento County residents will now have a harder time growing weed indoors.

County supervisors voted June 10 to limit the number of plants that may be grown inside, as well as where they may be grown. The move comes just two months after the county banned all outdoor grows.

sacramento county sealSacramento County is following in the footsteps of places like Live Oak and Fresno County, where officials have turned on weed growers as a way to appease angry neighbors. That approach was validated by the state Supreme Court earlier this year.

Grow Bans Appease Conservative Voters

Some supervisors said the June vote was necessary to avoid trouble with the federal government. Californians adopted medical marijuana when they passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, but federal law still bans all cannabis.

“We still hang in this very odd limbo between what the compassionate-use law says and what federal law says,” said Supervisor Phil Serna.

Even so, the feds have never gone after local or state officials for allowing pot that’s legal under state law. Claims by elected officials that they’ll become the target of law enforcement unless they ban all weed are simply bogus.

The real reason for the antagonism is much plainer: Local politicians in Northern California, particularly the Sacramento Valley, are pandering to the conservative voters who are most likely to get them re-elected. Those voters dislike medical pot and everything it stands for, and they’re determined to stamp it out – never mind state law.

Grow Restrictions Could Hurt MMJ Patients

The new restrictions will limit growers to a maximum of nine indoor plants, and then only in single-family detached homes – no condos, townhomes or duplexes, for example. And plants must be hidden from public view.

Bob Bowerman, president of NORML’s Sacramento chapter, said the nine-plant limit would prevent many patients from growing enough weed. Nine plants would provide about an ounce a month, he said, and some patients use that much in less than a week – especially if they eat the drug or use an oil extract.

Patient advocates asked supervisors to allow 18 plants per home. But Chris Pahule of the Sacramento County Community Development Department said officials weren’t concerned about patients when they set the limit – only about law enforcement needs.marijuana leaf clear

The measure was approved at a Tuesday night board meeting without discussion or debate.

Part of a Pattern of California Grow Bans

Sacramento County is now one of the hardest places to live in California as an MMJ patient. Though Sacramento itself is staunchly Democratic, the unincorporated parts of the county – the areas affected by the new policy – are equally Republican, and conservative.

The county turned to grow bans in April, when supervisors voted to ban all outdoor cultivation. That move followed in the wake of a ruling by the 3rd District Court of Appeal, which upheld a vote by the City of Live Oak to prohibit all marijuana grows, indoors or out. The California Supreme Court later declined to reconsider that decision, effectively upholding it.

Fresno County, like Live Oak, bans all cultivation anywhere in the county. The most highly restrictive bans have been located primarily in the state’s conservative northern interior. But they threaten to continue spreading as irate anti-marijuana residents pressure local politicians to make weed go away.

About Matt Brooks

Based in San Francisco, Matt is a journalist who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than five years. He provides regular news coverage on and

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