Lake County pot advocates seek to overturn outdoor growing ban

Marijuana advocates have launched a referendum aimed at quashing a newly revised Lake County ordinance that bans outdoor marijuana cultivation in residential neighborhoods.

The new ordinance is too strict, said Lake County resident Michael Horner, a member of the group that launched the referendum, the Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation.

The group believes the best way to rid the county of "transient criminal growers" is to enact responsible regulations, Horner said.

His organization is working on an alternative ordinance to replace the county's ordinance, he said.

Voters last year soundly defeated a pro-marijuana ordinance that would have allowed pot growers to cultivate up to 12 mature plants in residential backyards of less than a half-acre and larger amounts on bigger parcels.

A revised ordinance was adopted Dec. 17 by the Lake County Board of Supervisors, which allows indoor growing in residential neighborhoods in the unincorporated county. The referendum's proponents erroneously claim in a press release that the ordinance bans all cultivation in residential subdivisions.

Many cities on the North Coast also have banned outdoor growing.

The Lake County ordinance allows outdoor growing on parcels larger than an acre, with up to a maximum of 48 plants on agricultural parcels larger than 20 acres.

County supervisors said they adopted the ordinance in an effort to control rampant pot-growing and its associated stench, which keeps residents from enjoying their own properties.

Marijuana growing also attracts crime, including robberies that have resulted in death, officials noted.

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