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Sonoma County weighs stricter medical pot rules

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors this week could drastically cut the amount of medical marijuana allowed for patients outside city limits.

The board on Tuesday will consider a proposal to get rid of guidelines the supervisors approved six years ago allowing medical marijuana patients to have 30 plants and three pounds of dried pot per year.

Instead, the state limit of six mature plants or 12 immature plants and eight ounces of dried pot per patient is plenty, according to a proposal by Supervisors Shirlee Zane and Valerie Brown, who led an ad hoc committee studying the issue.

Zane described Sonoma County's guidelines as "very permissive" and said they must change to stem a perception that the North Coast is a safe place to illegally cultivate marijuana.

"We're attracting a lot of people here who want to make a lot of money quick," Zane said. "This is a very lucrative industry, and it's got a lot of problems."

The proposal is likely to make the last board meeting of the year -- the final meeting of Brown's career before she leaves her office -- among the most contentious.

Brown could not be reached for comment late Sunday.

The move has enraged some medical cannabis advocates who said the supervisors requested input from law enforcement but left patients out of the process, giving them less than a week's notice before the vote.

"It's outrageous," said Kumari Sivadas of Sonoma Alliance for Medical Marijuana. "If the ordinance is repealed, it would result in a huge waste of resources. The courts are already packed with marijuana prosecutions."

Tuesday's proposed resolution is the second step in an effort to overhaul the county's medical marijuana rules in place since 2006.


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