Locals Fight Medical Marijuana Cultivation Ordinances

From CalNORML’s August Newsletter (get your copy!)

August 2012 – Medical marijuana farmers and other supporters–and opponents–are showing up by the hundreds at meetings where cultivation ordinances are being considered. Cal NORML Legal Committee attorneys are involved in challenging ordinances and representing plaintiffs.

After Lake County’s Measure D failed to carry at the voting booth, county supervisors attempted to pass an urgency ordinance allowing only 6 plants, indoors or out, anywhere in Lake, and only 3 outdoor plants on 1/2 acre plots. Following complaints from Lake County residents, Cal NORML objected to the Supervisors that the ordinance did not allow for collective cultivation, as required by state law.

A new proposal allowing 36-plant cooperative gardens was set for consideration on June 26. Over 300 people showed up to comment, including Cal NORML Deputy Director Ellen Komp, who spoke to the crowd at an impromptu rally that happened when the meeting was cancelled by the fire marshall for overcrowding. A seven-hour rescheduled meeting resulted in a compromise allowing up to 48 plants. This was not satisfactory to the Lake County Growers Association, who filed for an injunction against the ordinance.

In apparent retaliation, the Supervisors voted to suspend the cultivation committee that had been hammering out better guidelines. A judge has now issued a temporary restraining order protecting the plaintiffs against enforcement under the ordinance. Three CalNORML attorneys have pending cases against Lake county for over-enforcement, and our office is hearing more reports of patients being harassed by Lake officials. See update.

Yuba and Nevada counties also have pending court cases against their cultivation ordinances, both filed by Cal NORML legal committee attorney Jeffrey Lake. In Yuba, a judge ruled against a preliminary injunction even as a report of a garden raid was made to CalNORML. In Nevada County, daily reports of helicopter activity are being made, but warrantless code compliance checks aren’t happening, as they reportedly are in Yuba.

Attorney James Devine won a lower court ruling finding that Kern County’s 12-plant limit was not in compliance with state law. That ruling is non-binding on other courts, but encouraging.
Attorney Bill McPike’s lawsuit against Fresno County’s cultivation law is continuing to wend its way through the courts.Meanwhile the City of Fresno passed a ban on outdoor cultivation, prompting a local citizen to file an environmental lawsuit, much like a suit filed in San Bernadino county by attorney Letitia Pepper. The California Environmental Quality Act requires local governments to consider the environmental impact of their actions.

Trinity County, which has been holding Planning Committee meetings for over a year, held a meeting on July 12 to consider an ordinance allowing collective gardens of up to 99 plants on larger parcels. Strangely, Trininty’s personal cultivation ordinance, passed earlier this year, allows only 2 plants or 50 square feet on small parcels, in direct conflict with state law, which allows a minimum of 6 mature or 12 immature plants.

In Sutter County, local growers have sought to cooperate with the county rather than stir up conflict with a legal challenge. Jim Burris of SecureGrow has developed a greenhouse that meets the county’s exacting regulations for hiding the sight and smell of gardens. Sutter growers are also cooperating with a requirement that patients register personal gardens with the county. Cal NORML attorneys are challenging a similar requirement in Tehama County as a violation of patients’ rights under 215.

In a surprising development, Butte county supervisors voted 3-2 on July 31 to develop an ordinance disallowing all outdoor cultivation, based on a Kings County ordinance. Butte residents are outraged, since voters rejected a restrictive cultivation ordinance in June. Legal and elective responses are being considered. The supes plan to take action at the end of August. See update.

In Live Oak, an illegal ban on all use and cultivation of medical marijuana, is being challenged by patient James Maral and attorney John Fuery. Cal NORML is seeking funding for this and other legal challenges to local ordinances.

Cal NORML hears from many other defendants in need of support, and about bad rulings that impinge on medical marijuana patients’ rights and deserve challenges. We would like to hear from potential plaintiffs and funders at legal@canorml.org.

California NORML keeps up with local growing guidelines and ordinances. Meetings are announced on our Twitter feed (#CaliforniaNORML), and are posted to Facebook/CaliforniaNORML, as well as sent to appropriate email lists.

Stay Informed! Join California NORML’s Email Alert List

Support Cal NORML’s Advocacy Efforts!
Make a Donation today!

Donation amount
Donation frequency