City Council passes temporary ordinance allowing indoor cultivation of marijuana for medical use only
On Jan. 12, the Davis City Council unanimously passed a local ordinance allowing patients who rely on medical marijuana as treatment to cultivate up to 50 square feet in their homes.
Assembly Bill 21 (AB 21) a California bill that went into effect on Jan. 1, requires cities or counties to enact local ordinances regulating the cultivation of medical marijuana by March 1, or they will have to follow state regulations.
Under AB 21, cities and counties are given only three months to develop policies that either prohibit or regulate cultivation of marijuana.
“If the city does not act to adopt something that’s effective prior to March 1, the council will be forever banned in the absence of another change from the state legislature to do something in the future,” City Attorney Harriet Steiner said.
At the City Council meeting, Councilmember Brett Lee emphasized the importance of keeping local control rather than surrendering control to the state. The state’s regulations are “a one-size fits all” that are not designed to meet the needs of Davis.
Councilmember Lucas Frerichs agreed with the importance of maintaining local control and even expressed interest in collecting revenue from the taxation of marijuana if it is legalized for recreational use in the future.
Currently, Davis bans medical marijuana dispensaries from operating within the city, and patients rely on dispensaries in neighboring cities and delivery services.
“I’m interested in potential[ly] changing not only an expansion of this current ordinance, but also the possible change in the prohibition of dispensaries,” Frerichs said.
Members of the public were divided on the issue of whether the city should prohibit cultivation. Some expressed concern that there is an inadequate amount of research on the effects of marijuana for the city to make a balanced decision, while others questioned if the council should take any action at all. The council was asked to make a decision considering the cultivation ordinance as a medical and health issue.
“We’re talking about policies that affect patients with a legitimate medical need,” said Ian Roland, a patient and part-time UC Davis student.
None of the council members supported taking no action, agreeing that the city should be in control and not yield their authority to the state.
The City Council unanimously voted to pass an ordinance that allows indoor cultivation of medical marijuana, prohibiting outdoor and commercial cultivation of marijuana in all zoning districts in the city. The ordinance limits marijuana cultivation to 50 square feet per patient and 250 square feet for the patient’s primary caregiver.
“I’ll support [the motion to prohibit commercial cultivation] for the purposes of this temporary ordinance,” Frerichs said. “I do think there needs to be a larger discussion certainly about outdoor cultivation, but also about commercial cultivation.”
The ordinance does not to require registration for patients and primary caregivers and gives the city the ability to amend its law and modify the regulations as it sees fit.
The ordinance is not meant to be permanent; city staff have agreed to revisit the issue of medical marijuana by the end of the year, and the ordinance shall last no more than 18 months from the date of adoption.
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