Ripon may restrict pot growing

July 08, 2006

Inga Mille, Modesto Bee

Medical marijuana might relieve pain, but it's giving police here a headache.

After responding to a number of thefts involving the plant, police will ask the Ripon City Council on Monday to regulate where and how much marijuana can be grown by people who have doctor's cards allowing them to do so under California law.

"Regardless of whether they have a card, there are still public safety issues we have to deal with," Police Chief Richard Bull said.

"We don't want people to get hurt. We don't want people to have to peer over fences and see their neighbor growing medical marijuana. We're also concerned about minors or someone who doesn't have a card having the opportunity to steal and possess this marijuana."

A proposed ordinance he will present to the City Council suggests limiting growers to 24 plants and restricting gardens to secure, locked and "fully enclosed" structures. The proposed ordinance bans outdoor gardens.

If the council approves it Monday, the ordinance would require a second vote to pass.

The Police Department is aware of a half-dozen people growing medical marijuana, Bull said.

"It is important for there to be a disclaimer — we are in no way condoning the cultivation of marijuana," he said. "But we are trying to act within the constraints of Prop. 215."

Proposition 215, passed by California voters in 1996, allows medical marijuana.

Bull said police have discovered gardens of more than 50 plants in neighborhoods. The San Joaquin County district attorney declined to prosecute, Bull said, because the growers either had cards authorizing medical use or were growing the plant for someone who did.

The City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at 259 N. Wilma Ave., Ripon.

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Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at 599-8760 or

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