The city of Ceres remains without a permitting program for those who wish to grow their own marijuana at home – three years after California voters approved Proposition 64.
Court cases in other cities have caused Ceres city officials to wait to take action. It now appears the city will tackle the subject in its revamping of the Ceres Municipal Code.
“The permit program has not yet been developed due to the legal challenges for the permitting process that was challenged in Fontana, a model that many cities were using to put the program together,” said City Manager Toby Wells.
The council plans to craft a permitting process when it takes on Title 5 on Monday, Nov. 25.
Over two years ago the City Council had an initial discussion on how to handle home-growing marijuana users in the wake of passage of Proposition 64 (the Adult Use of Marijuana Act) by California voters in November 2016. The statewide measure allows adults in California to grow up to six marijuana plants at home but gives cities the ability to restrict growing of pot to indoors only and only through a special permit. Cities may place “reasonable” regulations on it, said Wells, but the courts and state lawmakers are struggling with what “reasonable” means to control odor, access by children and minimize crime and break-ins.
In December 2016 the Ceres City Council determined the city won’t allow any outdoor growing of marijuana within the city limits. However, a twist to AUMA considers an outdoor greenhouse is considered part of a structure as long as it's not in public view.
Prop. 64 makes no provisions for pot growing inside of apartment units. Renters of single-family homes must have notarized written permission from the property owner to grow.
Prop. 64 adds sections to the California Health and Safety Code to permit adults 21 and older to possess, transport, or give away up to one ounce of marijuana and up to eight grams of concentrated cannabis. Users who do not wish to buy pot at special marijuana distributors will be able to possess, cultivate, and harvest up to six marijuana plants inside the home – or outside as long as the public cannot see it while standing outside of a fence.
A court case in the Southern California city of Fontana has stymied city regulatory efforts.
Last November Fontana lost a lawsuit lodged by Mike Harris who asserted that a high fee of $411, requiring payment for a background check, and granting inspectors access to search his home were unreasonable restrictions. Harris’ suit was the first legal test of how far cities may go when regulating residents’ rights to use and grow recreational marijuana since passage of Proposition 64. Harris, who uses cannabis to manage pain other than resort to prescription opioids, successfully argued that when cities require an average payment of $281 and submit site plan drawings they are thwarting the rights intended to give by Prop. 64. Harris had help from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Drug Policy Alliance.
San Bernardino Superior Court Judge David Cohn ruled last year that while some of Fontana’s restrictions were reasonable, they went “too far” and its effect was to “stamp” out cannabis cultivation “entirely.”
Last March the Fontana City Council revamped its ordinance to lower the permit fee from $411 to $25. The new ordinance calls for the cultivation room to be hidden from outside view and that any windows, skylight, ventilation, or other opening must be sufficiently covered or opaque to obscure visibility of the cultivation from any adjacent property. The city forbids any cultivation to produce odors, sounds, or other emissions that are detectable from neighbors.
Cities are scrambling to come up with what the proposition calls “reasonable restrictions.” Some cities have developed standards for ventilation, indoor lighting, professional plans, security measures, and shielding grows away from public view. Wells said some cities are limiting the personal-use grow room between 100 and 400 square feet. Cities may also set restrictions on how large a plant may be allowed to grow.