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Medford council OKs limited outdoor marijuana growing

A divided Medford City Council compromised today to resolve an ongoing dispute over growing marijuana in the city by setting a four-plant limit per household and approving an ordinance to protect neighbors from foul-smelling gardens.

“The train has left the station,” Councilor Eli Matthews said. “We need to find a middle ground.”

The council voted 4-3 for the ordinance, which will require a second reading.

Councilor Clay Bearnson said he was concerned about medical marijuana patients who are entitled to six plants under state law.

“Essentially what you’re doing is putting a Band-Aid on this,” he said.

City Attorney Lori Cooper said, “It’s a Band-Aid for now, but four plants will take care of a lot of complaints.”

Councilors said they’ve received complaints from neighbors about larger grows in general, so they expect the four-plant limit should satisfy most concerns.

Bearnson said the city had received 17 complaints about marijuana grows since March.

“That’s one-fifth of 1 percent of the city,” he said. “Why are we concerned about such a minority?”

Medford police said they expect the complaints to increase once the plants start flowering in August through October.

Councilor Chris Corcoran also pushed for a middle ground after pointing out that his west Medford ward voted for Ballot Measure 91, approved by Oregonians last November to allow those 21 and older to have up to 8 ounces of marijuana at home, 1 ounce in public and to allow them to grow up to four plants per household.

Corcoran said councilors in east Medford live in an area that voted against Measure 91, but west Medford residents voted for it.

— Damian Mann