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Medicinal users fret about high cost of indoor pot growing

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POSTED April 21, 2010 3:06 a.m.
Three users of medicinal marijuana are concerned they won’t be able to afford to grow their cannabis now that the Manteca City Council is adopting rules requiring them to raise it inside a closed structure.

“If I had to grow indoors, I couldn’t,” noted Jerry Brooks. “I’m not rich.”

Brooks and others pointed out the high cost of growing equipment and PG&E costs that they said would make it cost prohibitive for people with limited incomes who are dealing with disabilities for which the medicinal marijuana is prescribed.

Brooks and others have an alternative if they don’t want to go out of town to other cities that already have collectives or co-ops. The new ordinance will allow the formation of co-ops exclusively servicing those with legitimate medicinal marijuana needs in Manteca under stringent standards which includes indoor growing.

The new municipal law makes it illegal to open a dispensary such as the one that opened on West Yosemite Avenue in downtown Manteca across from Athens Burgers. The city obtained a preliminary injunction and is now preparing arguments for a permanent injunction to keep the dispensary from opening again.

The owners claimed it is a co-op which is legal under the language of Proposition 215. City leaders contend it is not.

The prohibition against growing medical marijuana outdoors will go into effect June 27 if the council adopts the ordinance again on a second reading at their May 4 meeting.

Under the ordinance:

•only allow qualified patients, persons with medical identification cards, and primary caregivers to cultivate medical marijuana.

•such marijuana must be cultivated inside a secured, locked and fully enclosed structured that includes solid walls, a ceiling, and roof. No outdoor cultivation will be permitted within the city limits.

•A maximum of 12 plants with a maximum of six mature plants will be allowed unless a collective cultivation is allowed under an extensive set of rules outlined in the ordinance including the concern being non-profit and not within 1,000 feet of any residential district, school, recreation center, or youth center.

•Smoking of medical marijuana will not be allowed any place smoking is prohibited by law, in or within 1,000 feet of the grounds of a school, youth center, or recreation center (unless the use is for medical purposes within a residence), on a school bus, or while in a motor vehicle or boat that is being operated.

Proposition 215 passed by California voters in 1996 made it legal for personal use of marijuana for medical reasons. The California Legislature followed that up with a law that gave individual cities the power to decide whether to allow marijuana dispensaries for medical purposes.

In 2004, the Manteca City Council adopted a temporary moratorium on medial marijuana dispensaries within the city limits. The moratorium expired in 2005 without any additional action for a more permanent solution. As late as last year, the council declined requests to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in Manteca.

Quick & Easy Cooperative that opened in downtown Manteca on Yosemite Avenue near Library Park did so under the guise of being a retail pharmacy on its business license application. When city leaders discovered it was a medical marijuana dispensary or club, they sought a temporary injunction to shut it down. A hearing on a permanent injunction is pending.

Manteca law enforcement and city attorney moved under a provision of the business license ordinance that prohibits issuing a business license for any activity that is illegal under city, state or federal law. Marijuana use of any type is illegal under federal statutes.
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