NORML Challenges Lakeport Cultivation Ban

Mar. 28, 2007. In response to complaints from local patients, Cal NORML is challenging an ordinance by the city of Lakeport banning cultivation of medical marijuana within the city limits.

The ordinance, which becomes effective on April 6th, is the first attempt by a California city to deny the right to cultivation guaranteed under Prop. 215.

In a letter to the Lakeport city attorney, California NORML attorney William Panzer warned that the ordinance would likely cause "irreparable harm to lawful medical cannabis patients living in Lakeport." State law SB 420 (Health & Safety Code Section 11362.77) specifies that cities and counties may not impose limits on cultivation below the statewide default standard (6 mature or 12 immature plants). The State Supreme Court reaffirmed that these were minimal limits in People v. Wright.

The letter warns that Lakeport patients are prepared to file suit against the city if it tries to enforce the ban on cultivation.

The Lakeport ordinance, which was enacted at the urging of the local police chief, declares that the smell of marijuana plants poses a public nuisance, offending the noses of neighbors and potentially attracting robbers.

" We need to differentiate between responsible cultivators and others," local patient Howard "Duke" Holtz told the city council. "State laws cannot be overridden simply because of the abuse by a few. If they could be, we may as well throw away our Bill of Rights and most other rights we have in our country."

Patient advocates say that the ordinance goes far beyond what is required to deal with odor nuisances. The cities of Ukiah and Willits both have ordinances aimed at dealing with marijuana odors, but they prohibit only open-air gardens, not cultivation indoors or in greenhouses.

"If the city of Lakeport tries to counter our given state rights, then they should also take the responsibility of providing medical marijuana to approved users, either free of charge, or fully reimburse purchases of it," argues Holtz.

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