The proposal was to limit the number of plants to 12 per parcel. The sheriff and district attorney say that's plenty to provide medicine for the patients who need it, while also protecting other residents. But several people pleaded with the board of supervisors to increase that number significantly, and in the end, there was a compromise.
Dozens of people packed the board of supervisors' chambers and even spilled out into the lobby for their chance to weigh in on a controversial marijuana ordinance.
Law enforcement leaders first suggested new regulations last year after seeing home invasion robberies, shootings, and other violence tied to large marijuana grows.
Mariposa County Sheriff Doug Binnewies said, "Public safety is of paramount concern at this time, and we have seen a series of violent crime that's directly related to medicinal marijuana growing in Mariposa County."
The ordinance would require a six foot fence around outdoor grows and prevent any plants outside within 1,000 feet of schools or other youth oriented facilities. The primary caregiver or patient would also have to live on the property. But the part many people don't like is the limit of 12 plants per parcel.
One resident said, "12 plants is not enough for people who don't have a green thumb."
Several people said they need at least 30 to 50 plants to treat everything from cancer to chronic headaches.
Another resident added, "There's a lot of people like me who are sincerely trying to grow medical marijuana to stay off narcotics."
But the district attorney defended the limit, saying it's twice as much as many experts recommend. Some residents, including an assistant principal, also spoke in support of the ordinance for safety reasons.
Sheriff Binnewies explained, "I think both sides are really interested in compromising and finding a regulation that will help support public safety and still provide those people that are interested in medicinal marijuana to have access to it."
In the end, the board voted to keep the limit at 12 plants unless there are two or more patients on the property. Then the limit increases to a maximum of 24 plants. The ordinance will still face a second reading at the board meeting two weeks from today.