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O.C. seniors banned from growing medical pot

February 11, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Seniors at Laguna Woods Village were banned from growing medical marijuana in a community garden, but many call it a lifeline to survival.A group of senior citizens living in the Laguna Woods Village formed a medical marijuana collective and were growing marijuana in the community gardens that are leased to the residents. But that's not the case anymore, and some of those residents are threatening a law suit.

"Actually, people have been growing it for several years that I know about, and it's never caused any problems," said Lonnie Painter, a Laguna Woods Village resident.

Painter has been a resident at Laguna Woods for six years. He said a group of residents formed a collective to provide medical marijuana to sick residents with the proper prescriptions. That all changed last week when a homeowner's board passed a bylaw prohibiting marijuana from being grown in those gardens.

"Certain people have decided that they wanted to try put a stop to it, and unfortunately, they were well-placed on a couple of boards, and they were able to trick other board members and get this through in kind of like the dead of night," said Painter.

The senior community features golf courses and recreation centers. According to a member of one of the boards that acts like as homeowners' association, the growing of medical marijuana is strictly prohibited.

"We are sensitive that some of our residents say medical marijuana is beneficial to their situation, but we have to be mindful of what's in the best interest of all the 18,000 people who live here, and overwhelmingly it's not something they want," said Bob Hatch.

"It's certainly helped me with the nausea and the distress the nausea brought on which are a lot of unmentionables," said Margo Bour, a Laguna Woods Village resident of 16 years.

Bour says the collective there provided her with medical marijuana to deal with her MS and other ailments.

"These few people, and it is just a few who may be growing it in their gardens, are supplying without cost to others who need it," said Bour.

Hatch said that residents have to adhere by bylaws, but he also said that they will revisit the issue in March with all of the other residents. In the meantime, the residents who formed the collective say they are exploring the possibility of filing a lawsuit.