Pubdate: Wed, 05 Jan 2011
Source: Anderson Valley Post (CA)
Copyright: 2011 The E.W. Scripps Co.
Author: George L. Winship
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Distance From Cultivation to Public Areas With Children Tripled to 300 Feet

Following more than a hour of background and public testimony, then 
another 10 minutes of open debate, Anderson's five-member city 
council unanimously introduced on first reading an ordinance 
regulating the cultivation of medical marijuana within city limits.

But first, they agreed to make the already stringent ordinance even 
tougher by tripling the distance -- from the original restriction of 
100 feet to a new distance of 300 feet -- between a cultivation site 
and any public area, park, school, church or business frequented by children.

The third-floor council chambers in city hall were nearly filled to 
capacity Tuesday, Jan. 4, when Mayor Norma Comnick opened a public 
hearing on the matter at 7:42 p.m. following 26 minutes of background 
from City Manager Dana Shigley.

Of the nearly two dozen audience members who spoke publicly, some for 
quite a bit longer than the five minutes Mayor Comnick originally set 
as the limit, all but five people urged the council to either ban the 
cultivation of medical marijuana altogether or strengthen the 
proposed ordinance even further with larger setbacks.

In drafting the ordinance, Shigley said staff members including City 
Attorney Michael Fitzpatrick had compared Anderson's proposed 
ordinance to those already in place in Arcata, Gridley, Shasta Lake 
City, Redding, Chico, Corning, Red Bluff and Fresno County.

"None of the cities contacted . . . have completely banned 
cultivation for personal use in residential districts," Shigley said. 
"We can find no city that enacted a permanent 'ban' on residential 
cultivation of marijuana because of the clear conflict with the 
provisions of the" Compassionate Use Act of 1996, she added.

Cities and counties that do so risk facing lawsuits that would be 
expensive and virtually impossible to win, City Attorney Fitzpatrick 
again reminded the council and audience members alike more than once 
throughout the evening.

"I do understand the concern of legal costs and I heard a figure 
somewhere of upwards of $30,000," said Tim Azevedo, superintendent of 
the Anderson Union High School District and the first speaker to 
address the council. "However, if we are going with an ordinance. 
Let's put some teeth into it. A 100-foot setback from a school isn't 
very much. And a $50 fine seems like a small amount. Why aren't we 
imposing the largest fine possible?" Azevedo asked.

Fitzpatrick explained that any distance chosen would require 
substantiation that anything less constituted a real threat, and that 
$50 for a first infraction of a criminal infraction is the maximum 
allowed for code enforcement actions not requiring the services of a 
District Attorney.

One of those making the case for medical marijuana patients was 
former mayor and council member Rodney Jones.

"I contend that this ordinance is a sanction on me as a patient. This 
ordinance is not legal," said Jones, who accused the council of 
conspiring to have him arrested.

"I agree that there's a bunch of idiots out there who are growing. 
There are ways to mitigate odors. There are strains that do not smell 
as strong and can be grown low to the ground," Jones said after 
Comnick reminded him his time limit had been exceeded.

As Jones attempted to continue speaking, Comnick signaled to have the 
podium microphone turned off.

"Rod, you've been a council member. You know the rules. Your time is 
up," the Mayor said forcefully.

The ordinance, which will be brought back to the council in two weeks 
for adoption on a second reading, takes effect in 30 days, by Feb. 
18, well before most medical marijuana patients would be planting 
next year's crop, Fitzpatrick said.

Any cultivation inside a residence is prohibited under the ordinance, 
as are all outdoor cultivation practices. The ordinance defines 
cultivation to mean the planting, growing, harvesting, drying or 
processing of marijuana plants or any part thereof.

Cultivation can only take place in a 50-square foot backyard 
outbuilding built to code and city permit.

Only a medical marijuana patient, a person 18 or older with a 
doctor's valid recommendation to use, possess and cultivate medical 
marijuana, or that patient's caregiver would be allowed to cultivate.

And any accessory structures used for cultivation shall meet the 
following criteria:

The building shall be provided with locking doors and have a working 
security system. The alarm shall be a standard audible residential 
alarm of at least 90 dBA (decibels) but not exceeding 110 dBA and 
shall meet the requirements of Chapter 9.68 of the Municipal Code.

If the building is a greenhouse, then it shall additionally be 
surrounded by a secure solid six (6) foot high fence located within 
ten (10) feet of the greenhouse and equipped with a lockable gate.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom