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Grants Pass draft would ban outdoor marijuana grows

The Grants Pass City Council on Monday moved closer to formalizing language for an ordinance banning outdoor pot gardens in the city.

City Attorney Mark Bartholomew presented a draft ordinance that would ban outdoor cultivation of marijuana. The draft was the result of a council discussion last month in which the council directed Bartholomew to write the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance contains language stating: "Cultivation, drying, curing, production, processing, or possession of marijuana shall be conducted indoors."

In his presentation, Bartholomew told the council that Central Point and many cites and counties in California prohibit outdoor cultivation of marijuana. Medford also is considering restrictions.

He also said Washington prohibits home marijuana gardens altogether and Colorado restricts home cultivation to three plants.

The council is considering taking action in anticipation of increased home cultivation once recreational marijuana becomes legal on July 1. Voter-approved Measure 91 allows cultivation of up to four plants at a time.

However, after a lengthy discussion on Monday, the council opted to deliberate about the topic again next Monday before settling on exact language.

Councilor Lily Morgan drew a distinction between growing in the city and growing in rural areas. She raised the possibility of establishing growing limits based on square footage.

Councilor Roy Lindsay reiterated his prior concern about restricting access so that children would not be able to get marijuana from a neighborhood garden.

But he also said he understands that the people growing medical marijuana have rights as well. Registered cardholders have been able to grow up to six plants at a time under the state's medical marijuana, which took effect in 1998.

"I can see very strong arguments both ways," Lindsay said.

"I think our job is to protect the rights of the majority who don't want to grow marijuana," Councilor Dennis Roler said. But, he added, the council also has to consider the minority.

Council President Dan DeYoung sympathized with medical marijuana growers.

"I have no problem with the medical program that came in 1998," DeYoung said. "This (Measure) 91 has not done the medical marijuana people any good."

If some councilors remain uncertain about what action to take, Councilor Mark Gatlin is not among them.

"My personal preference is to keep it indoors," Gatlin said. He added he would like to see marijuana kept someplace where it could be locked away, like one would with a gun or prescription pills.

"(Marijuana) is not a benign, safe intoxicant," Gatlin said.

The council intends to discuss the subject once again at its workshop on Monday.