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3.23.2009

Growing marijuana for patients in Hidden Valley, Ca


Lake County is a county located in the north central portion of the U.S. state of California, north of the San Francisco Bay Area. Lake County was formed in 1861 from parts of Napa and Mendocino counties. Lake County has long been known as a farming community. Vineyards were planted in the 1870s; by the early 1900’s the area was earning a reputation for producing some of the world's greatest wines. It is also in an area known for producing high quality marijuana. Hidden Valley is part of Lake county.

Growing marijuana for medicinal use will not be banned or policed by the Hidden Valley homeowners association's safety and security division. Last month, during a Hidden Valley Lake Association board meeting, the issue of growing medical marijuana in the community was raised. Board members discussed the legal ramifications if individuals decided to grow it medical marijuana indoors and outside as well.

Chief Charles Russ, head of the association's safety and security department, was asked to bring his recommendations which he did. Chief Russ did just that at the March 12 meeting. Russ, in his memorandum to the board, explained that California voters passed Proposition 215, the California Compassionate Use Act, in November of 1996.

The aceptance of the proposition creates an exception to California laws prohibiting the possession and cultivation of marijuana for patients and primary caregivers with a physician's approval. Its legit for a qualified patient to grow medical marijuana, and they are allowed allowing up to 12 immature marijuana plants per qualified patient. Moreover, a qualified patient is allowed to have up to a half-pound of dried marijuana at their residence, with the proper identification. This raised other issues people getting together to “co-op” their plants, which could itself become a nuisance.

There was also a report from one Hidden Valley Lake resident of marijuana plants stolen from his yard. Another resident, who uses medical marijuana to cope with war inflicted severe post traumatic stress disorder stated that he would take the necessary precautions to insure that would not happen to him. There are risk involved in policing the growing of medical marijuana and the Hidden Valley Lake Association board did not want to have their safety and security division to and control this area of the law because of those risks.

The City Council of Lakeport passed an ordinance in 2007 banning the growth of medical marijuana in the city limits citing the plant's strong smell, and concerns about potential crimes. One option propsed was to require residents with medical marijuana cards to register with the association and obtain a special use permit to cultivate the plants outdoors. Legally, however, this option could be challenged and impact the administrative workload, Russ said. On the other hand, they could use the model of regulation adopted in 2007 in Lakeport and prohibit outdoor marijuana cultivation. This would mean they would need to defer to legal counsel and an advisory committee for “additional review and feedback.” Ultimately, however, Russ' recommendation, was accepted by the board and the association will maintain its existing policy and refer marijuana complaints and issues to the appropriate governmental issue, in this case the Lake County Sheriff's Office, which has legal jurisdiction over Hidden Valley Lake.