The Tehama County Board of Supervisors has tightened regulations on home marijuana grows after getting an earful from angry residents who want to stamp out pot gardens in their neighborhoods.
Tehama County’s cultivation ordinance previously restricted the number of plants that could be grown based on the size of a plot of land. It also applied location restrictions, setback rules, security requirements and registration provisions.
The amendments to those rules, adopted July 30, impose a plant limit of 12 on every parcel, no matter how large, no matter the growth stage of the plant. A new penalty of up to $1,000 a day will be levied for those who are out of compliance. And other penalties will apply.
Required setbacks will be increased to 100 feet regardless of the size of the plot of land. And plastic sheets or cloth used to shield weed gardens will no longer be considered “an adequate fence” under the terms of the county’s cultivation ordinance.
The supervisors voted to amend the ordinance after hearing from several residents at a public hearing. They showed up to complain that weed gardens are a blight on their neighborhoods and are popping up too close to school bus stops. Karis Pierce, chairwoman of the Rancho Tehama Advisory Committee, said the grows are wrecking newly paved roads, using water illegally and encroaching on property.
A few home growers also spoke at the meeting, including one who pointed out that she, her partner and several others rely on her collective garden, which requires more than 12 plants. The amendments make no distinction for collectives.
State voters approved medical marijuana in a 1996 referendum. As part of that law, medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow pot at home.
Hundreds of cities and counties across California are already using zoning restrictions and other regulations to ban marijuana dispensaries within their borders. Attempts to curb home grows may signal further efforts to clamp down on medical marijuana in parts of the state.
Tehama County, in Northern California, prohibits dispensaries in unincorporated areas. The same is true of most localities in that part of the state, meaning a crackdown on pot growing could have a serious impact on patients.
The county claims to have received a greater number of complaints about grow sites this summer.
“These complaints, and information provided by the county’s enforcing officers, indicate a growing pattern of widespread, large-scale noncompliance with virtually every aspect of the marijuana cultivation ordinance,” Supervisor Bob Williams said.
But no evidence was presented at the meeting to demonstrate criminal offenses.
It’s not clear exactly how far Tehama County can go in limiting weed gardens. Supervisors went to court over the ordinance and won a ruling early this year that held the state’s marijuana law doesn’t prevent municipalities from regulating cultivation.
At least one supervisor said on Tuesday that he wants to stop all home grows in the county but acknowledged the law doesn’t allow for that.