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Phoenix considers regulating backyard medical marijuana growers

The Phoenix City Council is poised to consider an ordinance that would seek to control cultivation of medical cannabis inside city limits.

No other city in the Rogue Valley has attempted to regulate backyard growing of medicinal marijuana.

City Manager Steve Dahl said Wednesday that city officials are collecting information from other municipalities around the state and plan to have a study session later this month.

A standing-room only crowd at Monday's council meeting drew some four dozen audience members, nearly all of whom opposed special legislation for dealing with an issue that Andrea Adams, co-owner of The Greenery, a marijuana dispensary in Phoenix, said is already "heavily regulated" by state law.

Mayor Jeff Bellah said city officials have no interest in debating the state medical marijuana law but hope to find a balance between the rights of cardholder and neighbors who "don't appreciate the smell."

Dahl said the proposed ordinance, which will be the subject of a Jan. 28 study session, would seek to mitigate livability issues that arise between neighbors, such as smell that impedes use of neighboring properties, increased rodents and traffic in residential areas.

If approved, the ordinance could define potential setback distances for gardens, heights for fences surrounding grow sites and possibly require growers to control rodents and ensure neighbors cannot smell the plants during harvest time.

At Monday's meeting, Adams, a Talent resident, told city officials to expect litigation to be filed if special legislation is passed regarding medical marijuana.

"I would urge the council to abandon what I see as a waste of time and a way to violate the rights of citizens under Oregon state law," Adams said.

"I would encourage the city to consider more of a good neighbor policy versus restrictions on marijuana growers specifically."

Dahl emphasized that the city's focus was property rights and not micromanaging state marijuana laws.

"Basically what we are saying is, 'If you are legal to grow marijuana in the state of Oregon, we're not trying to debate that or prevent that. But you are not allowed to create a nuisance for the neighbors who live around you,' " said Dahl.

— Buffy Pollock

Read more in Saturday's Mail Tribune.