Sep 172010

The city of Fresno may follow Fresno County in regulating where medical marijuana is grown after recent violence involving backyard pot farms, including a fatal shooting near Roeding Park.

Fresno City Council Member Henry T. Perea on Thursday asked City Attorney James Sanchez to work with Fresno County officials on an ordinance that would regulate medical-marijuana cultivation.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved an emergency ban on outdoor medical-marijuana cultivation in unincorporated areas, George Hostetter reports in the Fresno Bee. The ban, which took effect immediately, will last 45 days while county officials develop a permanent ordinance governing the growth of medical marijuana.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Perea asked Sanchez to bring a proposed ordinance to the council within 45 days that would permit similar regulation. Perea said the city should coordinate its efforts with the county so the rules are as uniform as possible.

“My concern is that once the county acts, we will begin to see more marijuana groves moving out of the county and into the city,” Perea said.

Perea said he wants an ordinance that would ensure patients have access to their medication while also protecting neighborhoods from possible violence.

Recent shootings in Fresno over marijuana plants have raised concerns, including the fatal shooting of a man suspected of trying to steal marijuana from a backyard garden near Roeding Park on Sept. 8. One of the garden’s owners, Phayvahn Dydouangphan, 47, has been charged with murder in the death of Stanley Wallace, 40, of Caruthers.

Sanchez said his office would come up with a proposal to regulate where marijuana is grown.

“Our initial research is we do have local police powers to impose reasonable regulations on medical marijuana cultivation,” Sanchez said. “We do not believe we can prohibit it altogether.”

Perea’s request came during the period early in each meeting set aside for council member comments. No council vote was taken on the request.

In the afternoon, during a time for unscheduled communication from the public, about 10 people spoke up on Perea’s request.

In general, the speakers didn’t dispute the city’s authority to ensure public safety. But they warned city officials not to propose an ordinance that violates the legal rights of patients and cultivators.

“You can’t punish everybody for the decisions of a few,” said Argus Horrell of Fresno, who described himself as a self-sustained medical marijuana patient.

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