Pubdate: Sat, 29 Aug 2009
Source: Corning Observer (Corning, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Freedom Communications
Author: Julie R. Johnson, Staff writer
Cited: Corning City Council
Referenced: The Attorney General's guidelines
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Corning Council Struggles With Setting Rules for Cooperatives

Where can a person grow, smoke and sell medicinal marijuana in Corning?

That is a question the City Council and Planning Commission is trying 
to answer.

The topic was the subject of a combined study session with the 
agencies on Tuesday.

Packed to standing-room-only, the council chambers was home to an 
audience of people wanting very strict regulations, people opposed to 
any regulations at all and people just wanting an educated on the subject.

Moments after Mayor Gary Strack opened the session attorney Eric 
Berg, representing Ken and Kathy Prather, owners of Tehama Herbal 
Collective in Corning, stood and challenged the council on its 45-day 
emergency ordinance banning medical marijuana dispensaries, which the 
council passed on Aug. 11.

"The ordinance exceeds the council's authority and denies patients 
right to use and cultivate marijuana," Berg said.

"Most important medicinal marijuana use may not be legislated out of 
existence by the city officials," he said, citing California court cases.

Claiming the ordinance to be illegal, he asked the city to reconsider 
its emergency ordinance and "allow things to be as they are."

With several people wanting to make comment, the mayor reminded the 
crowd it was a study session and not a public hearing and that 
comment would not be allowed from the audience. That is, with 
exception to the Prathers whom the mayor allowed to stand and make 
comment during the session.

The disclosure did silence Corning Union Elementary School Board 
members Shannna Long and Helen Pitkin who wanted to read a letter on 
the subject of medicinal marijuana cultivation and dispensaries from 
district Superintendent Steve Kelish.

A couple of men who spoke out and interrupted the council became so 
irate at the mayor's censor they walked out of the chambers following 
several reminders from the mayor that they were to remain quiet.

City planner John Stoufer, who had denied the Prathers a business 
license for their marijuana dispensary based on city zoning, provided 
information to the council on current court cases involving medicinal 
marijuana, state guidelines according to the attorney general, and a 
map of current zoning districts in the city.

He then lead the council in outlining a list of priorities in 
preparation to drafting a city ordinance on medicinal marijuana 
cultivation and distribution.

The council discussed such issues as smell, health issues, safety 
hazards, greenhouse effects, nuisance complaints, security, and state 
laws on how many plants can be grown and ounces possessed.

Other issues such as setting limits on how far a cultivation or 
distribution site must be from schools, parks, bus stops, churches, 
youth facilities and other places was also discussed.

Planning Commissioner Jesse Lopez suggested there be some kind of 
buffer between residential property lines and distribution and 
cultivation sites. He also suggested outdoor security be "heavy." 
Police chief Tony Cardenas agreed.

Councilwoman Becky Hill brought raised the issue of indoor 
grow-lights and the fire hazard they present. This lead the council 
to consider requiring that marijuana plants be grown only outdoors or 
in a structure detached from any residence.

"We also have to consider the hazard to firefighters when responding 
to a structure fire where marijuana is grown," said Hill. "Breathing 
in the fumes could be considered a health hazard."

Councilman Ross Turner suggested all structures where marijuana is 
grown have a hazard placard attached to the outside of it.

As for distribution, the council and commission discussed city 
zoning, concerns over illicit distribution, code of conduct and other 

As the study session continued, other such details were discussed at 
length providing Stoufer with a list of possible guidelines he needed 
to prepare writing a draft ordinance.

Stoufer said he will not have the draft ordinance ready to present to 
the council before the conclusion of the 45-day emergency interim 
ordinance and that the City Council will need to extend the emergency 
ordinance following a public hearing on Sept. 22.

"I don't know exactly how long they will need extend the ordinance 
but I will be working on the draft as quickly as I can," he said.

In the meantime, the Prathers medicinal marijuana dispensary remains 
open without a city-issued business license and having received a 
notice from Cardenas on Aug. 13 they are in violation of a city 
ordinance and "are hereby ordered to immediately discontinue the 
operation of a medical marijuana collective."

The document, signed by Stoufer, explains if the business is not 
closed down, and the Prathers are found guilty of the infraction, 
they could be fined.




1,000-feet from school, indoors or outdoors

requirements of cameras and other security measures

fencing - height, 6, 8, or 10 feet requirement

mandatory registration with police department

no cultivation within a residence - must be in detached structure

no indoor or outdoor cultivation in multi-family units

hazard placard on exterior of building for emergency response personnel

owner of rental property must give written consent to renters

limit number of plants grown by primary caregivers


No residential or in-home occupation

C2 commercial zone only

1,000-feet from schools, parks, places of worship, youth facilities

300-feet from residential

security measures

operating standards



(Source: City Manager Paul Poczobut, Jr.)

No regulations or ordinances at this time.

City attorney is working with police chief in preparing a document to 
present to the city council within 30 days.

Has not received an application for a medicinal marijuana dispensary.


(Source: City Manager Steve Holsinger)

Currently does not have any ordinance or regulations.

City is considering it and is circulating a draft ordinance to council members.

Has not received an application for a medicinal marijuana dispensary.


(Source: City Manager Martin Nichols)

Medicinal marijuana dispensaries not allowed under city's zoning code.

Exclusionary zoning code that does not list medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

City has not received an application for a medical marijuana dispensary. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake