The Sacramento Board of Supervisors amended a water wasting regulation to exclude mention of medical marijuana, but advocates who testified at the meeting say they are still unhappy about the the regulation's intent.
The regulation originally specifically mentioned illegal marijuana grows, which would be subject to a $500 fine per plant for water wasters.
The language was included by Supervisor Roberta McGlashen, who two years ago successfully introduced a ban on outdoor medical marijuana grows. Up to nine plants can still be grown indoors.
Even before a long line of protestors testified, Board Chair Phil Serna intended to introduce a substitute amendment that took the marijuana language out, saying that any illegal activity that wastes water would be subject to enforcement.
McGlashen agreed to the amendment because she said it would include the illegal growing of too much turf grass for instance.
"It's not about trying to be punitive against those who are advocating for medicinal use of marijuana," Serna said.
But Serna also said the board is not revisiting its stance against outdoor pot plants. He said large illegal grows have shown to use incredible amounts of water.
Medical marijuana advocates countered by saying small grows for personal use use far less water than growing vegetables and grapes, for instance.
"Since marijuana is medicine, I would think it would have a top priority for water," said Marcia Blount, who is a medical marijuana patient as well as president of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club.
Protesters say they will run a candidate against McGlashen because of her stance on marijuana.
Advocates say the compromise amendment, which passed unanimously, is not helpful.
"I don't think it's going to help patients one bit from being persecuted by water authorities," said Ron Mullin with NORML, the National Organization For the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
The ordinance will take effect in about 45 days.