The faint but distinct odor of fresh marijuana wafted through the Lake County Board of Supervisors chambers Thursday during a contentious Planning Commission hearing on revised medical pot-growing rules.
The daylong meeting ended with the Commission voting to send the proposed rules, which would ban outdoor marijuana growing in residential neighborhoods, to the county Board of Supervisors for a vote.
The hearing, attended by about 100 opponents and proponents of the rules, was punctuated by heckling and emotional outbursts.
"I've had it, I've had it, I've had it," marijuana advocate Paul Kolb shouted at planning commissioners while jabbing his finger in their direction. "I'm not going to stand for any more of this BS."
Several people threatened to sue if the rules were adopted.
Kolb and others opposed to the proposed regulations said the rules unfairly and illegally limit their right to grow medicinal pot. The rules would allow only indoor growing in residential neighborhoods. They allow limited outdoor growing on parcels larger than an acre, with up to a maximum of 48 plants on agricultural parcels larger than 20 acres.
Daniel McLean said marijuana should be treated the same as other crops.
"You can plant up to acres and acres of grapes," he said.
Those who favored stricter rules said marijuana is ruining the county, their ability to enjoy their own properties and harming their businesses.
"People don't stay because of the smell," Nicky Tavares said, referring to the recreational vehicle park she operates with her husband.
She said she's also on the verge of losing a tenant in a rental home because they don't want their children exposed to the marijuana culture and they're afraid of associated crime. The sheriff said there have been at least 14 pot-related home invasion robberies this year.
"Nobody wants to come here anymore," said Gloria Hadley of Lakeport. She said the stench of ripening marijuana keeps her from opening her windows in the late summer and fall.
"What are my rights?" she asked.
The proposed regulations would extend and tighten rules that were adopted by supervisors last year over the objections of marijuana advocates.
The revisions include rules aimed at preventing fires at indoor marijuana growing operations and controlling environmental damage from erosion and pesticides.
Opponents of an outdoor cultivation ban in subdivisions said it would discriminate against people who are poor and deprive them of medicine. Growing indoors is more expensive than growing outdoors because of the cost of equipment and utilities, they said.
"I can't afford to buy it. I have to grow it," said Terri Larsen.
She says marijuana has cured or controls her ailments, including skin cancer and diabetes.
"I will be the first one to file a lawsuit" if the new ordinance is approved, she warned.
The revised rules are expected to go before the Board of Supervisors in about a month, said Community Development Department Director Rick Coel.
If they're to go into effect next year, they need to be adopted before the next pot growing season begins, he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Glenda Anderson at 462-6473 or firstname.lastname@example.org