County pot law meeting Tuesday

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a controversial medical pot ordinance.

The proposed rule would limit the growing of medical marijuana to indoor spaces, cap the size of growing operations, and ban dispensaries and collectives.

Legal medical marijuana users and patient caretakers would be allowed to grow only their own cannabis on the same parcel as the state-approved consumer. Those individuals would also be allowed to keep up to three pounds of processed cannabis at any given time.

State law allows for cultivation of medical marijuana, which is prohibited by federal law.

Some California municipalities have created permitting processes for medical marijuana dispensaries that allow them to operate much like other legal businesses. Other cities and counties have used zoning laws to effectively outlaw the dispensaries altogether.

Tuolumne County's proposal would be added to county zoning laws, and violations would be infractions with fines in the hundreds of dollars. The Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office, not building code officials, would enforce the regulations under the current proposal.

The ordinance was drafted by a committee with members from the county counsel, district attorney, public health, sheriff and planning offices. Proponents of the law have said it will allow county residents to access medical pot while avoiding lawbreaking and nuisances like unwanted odors from growing operations.

Opponents argue it's too restrictive. Those opponents include the Tuolumne County Planning Commission, which last month recommended the board force the county to revisit the proposal, either making it less restrictive or bringing more people into the process of drafting a new law.

Collective Patient Resources, a foothills-based medical marijuana advocacy group, has also been a strong critic of the proposal. The group announced last week that it is starting a Tuolumne County chapter in response to the ordinance.

The public hearing on the medical marijuana item is scheduled for the board's afternoon session at 1:30 p.m.

PUBLIC MEETING: Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, 9 a.m. Tuesday, County Administration Center, fourth floor, 2 S. Green St., Sonora.

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The Union Democrat
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