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Concord Bans Outdoor Medical Marijuana Growing

CONCORD (CBS SF) -- Medical marijuana patients, caregivers and other Concord residents growing the plant in their yards will soon have to take the herbs inside.

The Concord City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to ban all marijuana cultivation outdoors after about four months of discussion and debate.

The ordinance amends the city's development code to prohibit all marijuana growing outside, even for medicinal purposes.

The vote came after about a dozen residents, including some who identified as medical marijuana patients, voiced their opposition to the ban, according to City Attorney Mark Coon.

Coon said he believes the ordinance is a compromise protecting the rights of homeowners who do not want to smell marijuana on their property and the rights of medical marijuana users, who can still grow pot indoors.

"I think the council struggled with the decision because it's difficult to find a middle ground," he said. "I think the council sincerely wants to protect the rights of medical marijuana patients and the rights of the general public who don't use medical marijuana."

Coon drafted the ordinance, modeling it after the pot ban implemented by the town of Moraga, after a resident from Concord's Dana Estates neighborhood complained that her next-door neighbor's backyard medical marijuana was producing a strong odor and could attract crime.

Police officers investigated the complaint and found that the neighbor had a permit to grow medical marijuana. They also confirmed that other residents throughout town were growing pot outdoors, according to city documents.

The council directed Coon to prepare the ordinance, which was approved by the Concord Planning Commission last month.

City leaders banned medical marijuana dispensaries in 2005.

Concord's latest ban follows at least 50 other cities and counties statewide that have either outlawed or limited outdoor pot cultivation, Coon said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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