Sonoma County Addresses Medical Marijuana Growing Pains

SANTA ROSA (KCBS) – Medical marijuana grows and illegal pot fields have become a major problem in Sonoma County, according to some residents, and the Board of Supervisors is now looking sweeping changes to laws applying to marijuana dispensaries.

Sonoma County Supervisor Valerie Brown said she was wholeheartedly behind the idea of medical marijuana dispensaries back in 2006, but now regrets that decision.

KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:

“We now have a safety issue in this county,” Brown said. “People don’t feel free to walk in areas because they’re going to come across a grow.”

Supervisors are now looking at capping the number of dispensaries to nine in unincorporated areas. County officials said they also want to target illegal dispensaries that are using pesticides and have hazardous electrical wiring.

Local resident Loretta Hayes said she lives near one.

“On my land alone, I cannot walk there because the guy that’s running one of the grows walks around with a loaded gun and a pit bull,” she said.

There are nine medical marijuana dispensaries in Sonoma County – five are under the county’s jurisdiction.

Sheriff’s deputies said that marijuana has also been linked to two homicides and several home invasion robberies.

A formal vote on the dispensary cap is not expected until next year as any changes would still have to go through the county Planning Commission.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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