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San Bernardino County pot ordinance proposed

January 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
No outdoor growing of medical marijuana. That's the most controversial part of a proposed ordinance in San Bernardino County.

The county is moving to restrict the growing and selling of marijuana for medical purposes. It's been almost 15 years since voters approved the use of medical marijuana in California.

Today, cities and counties are struggling with exactly what that means. Right now, a lot of patients grow their own pot at home.

But in San Bernardino County, that could soon become much more difficult if the county goes forward with a plan to ban all outdoor marijuana growers.

"You got to take it indoors," said Lanny Swerdlow, who runs Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center in neighboring Riverside County. "You have to buy expensive equipment and all kinds of bills."

In Swerdlow's opinion, the proposed ordinance is just another example of law enforcement thumbing its nose at something voters have already approved.

"Our elected officials are elected to enforce the laws," said Swerdlow. "And San Bernardino County officials don't like this law, so they're doing everything they can to thwart it from being enforced in San Bernardino County."

But the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department says outdoor grows are simply too difficult to properly secure.

San Bernardino County also wants to ban all privately-run dispensaries because they say it's just too hard to tell which places are legitimately selling pot to patients, and which places are just selling pot for profit.

"There's an awful lot to sort through in the different ordinances," said Arden Wiltshire, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "The state laws that apply to legally owning medical marijuana, and who is justified in possessing it and growing it, making it available."

There is a 14-page ordinance that's going before the planning commission this week. If it's approved, it would then go before the Board of Supervisors for final approval.