Pubdate: Wed, 26 Mar 2014
Source: Colusa County Sun-Herald (CA)
Copyright: 2014 Freedom Communications
Author: Brian Pearson


Council Requests Ordinance Draft Before Next Meeting; Mayor Says 
Public Welcome to Comment on It

The Colusa City Council voted 4-1 on March 18 to pursue an outright 
ban for the cultivation of medical marijuana within the city limits - 
both indoor and outdoor.

The lone "nay" was cast by Councilwoman Marilyn Acree.

City attorney Kristen Hicks was directed by the council to draft a 
total-ban ordinance to be reviewed and discussed at a later meeting - 
making Colusa the fourth city to do so since Maral v. City of Live 
Oak was decided by the 3rd District Court of Appeals.

In that case, the Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's finding 
that there is no "unfettered right to cultivate medical marijuana." 
The ruling confirmed the city could legally ban the cultivation of 
medical marijuana without conflicting with the state's medical 
marijuana laws - Proposition 215 and California Senate Bill 420.

While that legal battle was won by Live Oak, the appellants will now 
turn to the Supreme Court in hopes that it will overturn the decision.

The plaintiffs in Maral - joined by the ACLU of Northern California 
in January - are asking the Supreme Court to grant review in the case 
and hold that bans on the cultivation of medical marijuana do 
conflict with the state's medical marijuana laws. If that fails to 
happen, the ACLU Northern California's website asks the Supreme Court 
to "depublish the erroneous Court of Appeal opinion so that it does 
not prompt other localities to enact similar bans, as some have 
already begun to do."

Other cities considering an outright ban of medical marijuana 
cultivation are Fresno, Avenal and Beaumont. Fresno County is also 
considering an outright ban.

"Sure, (the Maral decision) simplified things. That made it so it was 
not a mystery for us and less of a risk for litigation - that's 
definitely a contributing factor," said Vice-Mayor Kirk Kelleher, 
adding this is a decision the majority of the community seems to support.

"From my perspective, there has been no opposition from the public 
and the people I have spoken with. It just creates a bad-neighbor 
situation - from the smell, the security, and just all the obvious 
avenues - so we're just going to ban it and see where it goes," said Kelleher.

As for those who benefit from the legitimate use of medical 
marijuana, "it's just like any other medicinal product. You're going 
to have to go where they sell it," Kelleher said.

According to Mayor Greg Ponciano, the decision for an outright ban 
came in part from a lack of resources to enforce regulations.

"For simplicity's sake, we decided to go with the outright ban. We 
don't have the resources to regulate it. The more we talked about it, 
the more we realized outright ban would be safest, cleanest and best 
for the citizens," Ponciano said.

Ponciano said the city approached it solely from a public nuisance 
and a public safety standpoint.

"We weren't discussing the legitimacy of medical marijuana. That was 
mentioned a couple of times at the meeting," said Ponciano. "I don't 
know what the ordinance will entail when it comes back to us. As far 
as I know, it will be patterned after what Live Oak did. It's going 
to be a code violation, not a criminal violation."

Ponciano said the city needs to move forward with the ban and not be 
afraid of possible litigation.

"We can't allow ourselves to be governed by fear of getting sued. 
Anybody can sue anybody for anything," Ponciano said, "I would feel 
horrible if something happened, like a kid jumping over a fence into 
a marijuana garden and getting mauled (by a guard dog), and we would 
have to go to the parents and say, 'I'm sorry, but we were afraid of 
getting sued.'"

Even as Hicks prepares an ordinance for the outright ban of medical 
marijuana cultivation in the city limits, Ponciano is requesting the 
public to offer input - and said there would be another opportunity 
for community members to do so when the ordinance comes back before the council.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom