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The Placer County Board of Supervisors decided today to take a wait-and-see approach on whether to regulate the cultivation of medical marijuana in unincorporated areas of the county.

Board members expressed no interest in banning the cultivation of medical marijuana, but a majority did express a willingness to consider establishing a regulatory framework in the future to deal with concerns expressed by some residents who live near properties where marijuana is grown.

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The discussion gave county staff a chance to update board members on citizen concerns, which included a pungent odor during harvest season, potential increases in crime and environmental degradation, among other issues. Staff presented several potential actions that the board could take in response, but did not recommend any option.

The wait-and-see approach favored by the board will allow Placer County to see what action, if any, the state Legislature takes on the issue in the coming months.

Five bills are before the Legislature that seek to address marijuana cultivation. Several propose comprehensive regulatory frameworks for the large-scale cultivation, manufacture, transportation and sale of medical marijuana. In addition, California voters may be asked in November 2016 to consider an initiative that would approve recreational use of marijuana.

A majority of the board expressed interest in considering local regulations after seeing what the state does.

After listening to public testimony from almost 20 people, Supervisor Jack Duran said he didn’t see a need for the board to take action at today’s meeting.

“I’m not convinced there is a true issue at the moment,” he said. “So, I really think we need to do some more homework.”

Supervisors Jim Holmes and Jennifer Montgomery agreed with the wait-and-see approach favored by Supervisor Duran.

Supervisor Robert M. Weygandt emphasized he opposes that approach, saying, “We’re going to be dealing with this issue one way or the other.”

Supervisor Weygandt emphasized he favors looking at potential code enforcement and other rules to regulate conflicts that arise when marijuana is cultivated in urban areas. Afterward, he noted that waiting to deal with the issue prolongs impacts on communities within his district.

Staff reported that citizen concerns focus on the potential for:

  • Property values to drop near sites where marijuana is being cultivated;
  • Crime to increase because the presence of marijuana plants sometimes leads to burglaries, robberies and home invasions;
  • Degradation of the natural environment;
  • Exposure to unregulated pesticides and fertilizers;
  • Negative impacts on water quality and illegal use of water resources; and
  • Increased fire hazards.

Another concern is the marijuana odor that some residents find unpleasant.

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