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New rules for Ripon pot growers

Aims to reduce burglaries, traffic, offensive odors

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New rules for Ripon pot growers

Medical marijuana rules are being updated in Ripon.

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POSTED April 19, 2013 1:55 a.m.

Ripon Police Detective Sergeant Terri Jensen believes that updating an ordinance relating to the cultivation and possession of medical marijuana has good intentions.

“We think this will reduce burglaries, strong odors and short-stay traffic in our neighborhoods,” she said at last Tuesday’s Ripon City Council meeting.

A change is needed given the situation and circumstances brought to staff by police and code compliance officers. Only those with the medical marijuana identification card would be allowed to cultivate and possess the drug.

Police received numerous complaints from neighbors, ranging from smell, mess, and crime as surrounded by those who legally use the drug for medicinal purposes. Structures were makeshift, at times, built along a fence and using material such as chicken wire.

“There had been several burglaries because of the attraction and because the plants are visible and accessible,” Jensen said. “These houses brought increased risk of crime to the whole neighborhood.”

Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart added that the Ripon Municipal Code needed to be updated “to tighten up loopholes.”

He indicated that one of the main changes will include the grow structures.

The amendment – final approval is pending as elected leader went through a first reading of the changes – would call for no more than a 120-square-foot “detached, fully enclosed, and secured structure.”

Jensen added: “The grow structure must be a separate structure from the home, and must be locked.”

Police, under the change, would be allowed to enter and search these grow facilities, which must be properly ventilated, for compliance. All qualified people would be required to register with the Ripon Police Department with full details of their grow operation.

“It is neither the intent nor effect of this charter to condone or legitimize the use of marijuana,” Zuidervaart said.

The grow structure would allow the cardholder to have up to six mature plants, 12 immature plants, and 8 ounces of processed marijuana.

The change is being done in accordance with the guidelines established by the California Environmental Quality Act.

Jensen said that cardholders include those who are battling cancer, suffering from glaucoma, or critically ill or even dying.

The amendment also prohibits outdoor cultivation of the plant. Proximity to schools, child care facilities or parks must be outside 300 feet from the closest property line of the cultivation parcel.

In addition, medical marijuana cultivation for sale is prohibited.

More information on the ordinance along with the proposed changes can be obtained by calling Ripon City Hall, 209-599-2108.

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