UPDATE 5/15/2015 – Clearlake City Council voted 5-0 to repeal the ordinance.

5/5/2015 – The citizens of Clearlake, with help from the Emerald Growers Association, gathered a sufficient number of signatures to block implementation of the city’s total cultivation ban. The City Council will meet on May 14 to decide whether to rescind the ordinance or place it on the ballot, either at a special election or on the Nov. 2016 ballot. Read more. Cal NORML’s suit against the ban will likely be put on hold until the voters decide the matter.

March 19, 2015 – A lawsuit supported by California NORML is being filed today against the recently enacted ban on medical marijuana cultivation in Clearlake, California. San Francisco-based attorney Joe Elford will file the case in Lake County Superior Court with the intention of seeking relief for all qualified medical patients living in Clearlake, including:

– Anthony Spitler, a 66-year-old Clearlake resident who uses medical marijuana to treat pain from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for Stage Four neck and throat cancer. The chemo and radiation caused his neck muscles to atrophy, causing significant pain and, combined with the loss of his senses of smell and taste, a loss of appetite. Prescription pain medications curb his appetite, which is detrimental to his health.

– Jeri Spitler, a 60-year-old former city councilwoman from Clearlake with pain and neuropathy from fibromyalgia. She cannot take the prescription pain medication Lyrica because it is a nerve blocker that detrimentally affects her vision, and has a physician’s recommendation to use medical marijuana. The Spliters, a married couple, prefer growing 12 plants on their property in Clearlake to traveling to dispensaries for their medicine, which is cost-prohibitive and might expose them to criminal penalties for transportation.

– Robin Farnham, a 34-year-old Clearlake resident who has a physician’s recommendation to treat symptoms associated with a brain aneurism she suffered when she was 29 years old. Farnham is unable to take prescription pain medications because they thin her blood, which could cause more aneurisms. Purchasing marijuana is cost-prohibitive for Farhham, who wishes to have her partner and in-home health care provider grow six cannabis plants at her residence to meet her medical needs.

“The Clearlake ordinance is not only extremely cruel, but it is also illegal under California law,” said Elford. “Both the state electorate and legislature have stated that medical marijuana patients may cultivate the medicine they need for their personal medical use. This ordinance conflicts with both the spirit and letter of California law, so it should be struck down as pre-empted by those laws.”

If it does not prevail in Superior court, the Clearlake case can be appealed to the First Appellate District, which is not bound by the Third Appellate District’s ruling in Maral v. City of Live Oak. That ruling allowed Live Oak to ban medical marijuana cultivation; since then a few small cities (e.g. Avenal, Beaumont, California City) and the city and county of Fresno have followed with a total cultivation ban.

The ACLU is challenging Fresno County’s ban in the Fifth Appellate District court. Tulare county recently decided not to enact a cultivation ban, due to the likelihood they would be sued.

“Banning medical marijuana cultivation violates the clear intent of Prop. 215 to assure that medical marijuana patients have safe and affordable access to medical marijuana,” said Dale Gieringer, Director of California NORML.

Read the complaint.

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