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Santa Fe County staff changes tune about limits on personal growers; Planning Commission agrees to allow outdoor cultivation

Cannabis plants for personal use in Santa Fe County might get to see the sun after all.

County staff earlier this week recommended plants that are now legal under state law only be allowed to grow indoors because of concerns about odor, but at a meeting of the county Planning Commission on Thursday afternoon said they had found another way:

Growth Management Department Director Penny Ellis-Green said feedback from several county commissioners and the public led staff to ask the Planning Commission to choose between two options: 1) to limit outdoor growing for personal use to only what is not visible from a public way or place, or 2) remove the section of proposed ordinance amendments that addresses personal growing.

Ellis-Green said the county’s Noise Control and Public Nuisance Ordinance already prohibits “[a]ll disagreeable or obnoxious odors or stenches.”

The Planning Commission voted 6-1 for option 2, with commissioner Rhea Serna voting against.

Four people submitted written comments to the body prior to the hearing about the personal grow rules, all of them protesting the original proposals.

“May I suggest waiting to see if there is actually a problem before passing legislation,” wrote Linda Kastner.

“It seems to me that many here in the county (and also in ABQ) just don’t understand that cannabis is now legal, does not need to be stigmatized, those of us who enjoy it don’t need to be stimitagized any longer and it can and should be treated like other regulated substances and plants...Naysayers need to chill out and not let their fears rule us all,” wrote James Gollin.

“This is absurd,” wrote Aaron Perls. “Not only is this wasteful, and environmentally harmful—using unnecessary artificial lighting and climate control—it is elitist, and enforcement of such a rule would only lead to more unnecessary and counterproductive interactions between law enforcement and the communities they are supposed to be serving.”

“This has to be one of the most insane proposals ever in Santa Fe County,” wrote James T. Bolleter.

Most of the county’s proposed rules apply to cannabis production businesses and would, among other provisions: treat production facilities with the same rules as dairy farms; treat consumption areas with the same rules as alcohol sales with respect to hours of operation; require a 200-foot buffer between new cannabis establishments.

A public hearing will next be scheduled before the County Commission.

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