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YUBA CITY, CA - "Marijuana law" used to be a contradiction in terms, but today what is and isn't legal about cannabis has become increasingly complicated. Local governments find themselves trying to meet the needs of medical patients and prevent new problems.

For example, even when marijuana is legal, it can lead to crime. Sacramento County sheriff's deputies say one medicinal marijuana-growing operation got the grower shot when three individuals broke into his backyard trying to steal his plants.

But then when Sacramento passed an ordinance banning growing marijuana for medicinal purposes outdoors, the move set off a firestorm of protest from some in the medical marijuana community. They accused city leaders of taking away their lifeline.

Others say the only way medical marijuana can survive is if all the stakeholders work together to find common ground, and the new law could pave the way.

A Yuba City man says he has the solution.

"All the media coverage so far has been gang grows, dispensary raids," retired Yuba City truck driver Jim Burris said, annoyed with the stigma. Asked to confirm that he's not a gang member, "No, not at 68 years old," Burris said laughing.

When you think of marijuana growers, his face may not be the first to come to mind.

"I got a white eagle feather from the Mescalera Apache Indian reservation in Mescalera, New Mexico," Burris said proudly showing off the feather displayed on his living room wall.

Burris says that feather makes him an official medicine man, and he credits marijuana for helping him with everything from cancer to spinal cord problems. As a senior citizen living on a fixed income, Burris says it was vital for him to grow his own plants to save money. So when his hometown of Yuba City banned outdoor growth, he set out to find a way to keep his backyard harvest and be a good neighbor at the same time.

His answer:A fortified greenhouse. The idea began with his wife's hobby, but Burris knew simply putting a roof over his operation wouldn't be enough.

"As a result, we went from this, my wife's garden shed, to the prototype," Burris said, showing the different greenhouses in his backyard.

Burris' greenhouse uses a cover that prevents anyone from seeing what's inside but allows in natural sunlight. There's a charcoal filtration systemto eliminate the distinctive scent of marijuana. Most importantly, a six-foot-high chain-link fence anchored to the ground and secured with a locked door provides the framework Burris insists deterscrimes of opportunity.

"Yuba City made an honest attempt to accommodate patients in being able to grow outdoors in the sunlight. They made reasonable requests that it be under lock and key, out of sight, and odor-free," Burris said.

Burris hopes other communities will take a similar approach rather than heed some calls to stop home growth altogether. . He's working with a manufacturer to mass produce the greenhouses and distribute them across the country.

"This is the pending part," Burris said. pointing out his patent application. "I have a year to get in the forms to make it a legitimate, full-blown patent."

Officials at the Oaksterdam Cannabis Museum in Oakland say they plan to house a scale model of Burris's SecureGrow greenhouse.

By Gabriel Roxas, groxas@news10.net

Twitter: @gabrielroxas

Facebook: Gabriel Roxas

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