Rural residents, marijuana growers clash over Sonoma County pot ordinance

Sonoma County marijuana growers and rural residents made it clear Thursday they do not always see eye to eye about how best to sanction medical pot cultivation in their neighborhoods.

Before a standing-room-only gathering at the Board of Supervisorsí hearing chambers in Santa Rosa, tension arose as growers, neighbors and others aired concerns for nearly three hours with county planning commissioners about a recently proposed marijuana land use ordinance.

On one side, rural residents expressed fear of inappropriately large marijuana operations flourishing near their homes, threatening the stability and security of their communities and creating potential environmental problems. On the other, growers argued that restricting their industry too much would drive more of it into the black market.

The divergent views highlighted the tricky task ahead for the Planning Commission and other county officials, who must weigh the benefits of regulating marijuana land use against what residents say is best for their quality of life.

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