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Medical Cannabis Grow Rules Vary Around The Mother Lode

Sonora, CA – As spring planting season gets underway in earnest one local jurisdiction has new local rules for medical pot grows and three others are continuing attempts to get some in place.

Over the past two weeks, Clarke Broadcasting has received a number of phone calls into the newsroom from individuals referring to themselves as cannabis growers. Some were unclear as to whether recent state laws passed automatically allowed them to grow medical marijuana. (The answer is no). Others, sharing that they were planning to get cultivating by early April, wondered how local laws have changed. What follows is what we know to date.

Calaveras Cans ‘Urgency’ Plans

Attempts on Tuesday by the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors to pass an urgency ordinance to help curb “a marked influx” of commercial growers from neighboring jurisdictions with more restrictive cultivation regulations resulted in a packed supervisors’ chambers and a 3-2 board vote to send the temporary measure back to the planning department for more work. Board members voting against the urgency regulation were District 1 Supervisor Board Chair Cliff Edson, District 3 Supervisor Michael Oliveira and District 5 Supervisor Steve Kearney.

As previously reported here, the draft would have stopped the clock on any new or speculative cultivation. It would also require all cultivation sites that existed in the county prior to Feb. 16 to register and comply with prior zoning and size restrictions. The supervisors’ direction to staff at their Feb. 16 meeting also included coming up with a permanent ordinance, which is requiring the planning department to conduct a countywide environmental impact report that is expected to take at least six months.

Tuolumne Adopts Rules, Appoints Task Force

The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors, as previously reported here, managed to adopt an ordinance back in February after much finagling. The county’s new rules state that one qualified medical cannabis patient or primary caregiver can grow up to 12 plants on a parcel outdoors (two such persons may grow up to 24 plants on one parcel) with a setback of at least 25 feet from the property line. Alternatively, a patient or primary caregiver may cultivate the same number of plants indoors in a single area that is no larger than 50 square contiguous feet per parcel. For details, click here. Plans for code enforcement include a fulltime compliance officer to be added within the county’s next budget cycle. A board-appointed stakeholder advisory committee will share input on refining the ordinance in June, when the board next plans to revisit the issue.

Meanwhile, after much discussion and public input at a well-attended meeting about a month ago, the City of Angels Camp City Council, as previously reported here, reintroduced a previously drafted ordinance that would continue to prohibit medical pot grows as well as keep the city out of the business of approving or granting any localized permits, licenses or other entitlements for growing. City Attorney Derek Cole and the council anticipate a significant turn out and more public opinions as the proposed ordinance heads to its second reading at the council’s April 19 meeting. City officials, who remain torn over the subject, are maintaining serious concerns about permitting cultivation within its relatively constrained jurisdiction.

Constrained City Areas Cause Council Struggles 

Sonora City Council, at its Feb. 16 meeting, considered waiving a second reading of a draft ordinance that would have amended Chapter 17 of the Sonora Municipal Code, which currently prohibits marijuana dispensaries and marijuana cultivation under land uses. As previously reported here, the waiver would have allowed the scheduling of a public hearing in March that would additionally address cultivation registration and renewal fees. The draft, which proposed allowing the growing of up to six plants, was prepared with the presumption that those who would apply for cultivation permits would have already met state requirements to use and possess marijuana. It also continued the current ban on dispensaries.

However, the council reached a consensus to send the document back to staff to rework it. Among the direction provided by the councilmembers was to make the Police Department the enforcement agency for the ordinance and provide a permit requirement for state-licensed dispensaries to deliver medical cannabis within city limits. Councilmembers remained at odds as to whether or not to continue its current cultivation ban or to allow for limited indoor or outdoor cultivation through financially viable processes for qualified medical marijuana patients and caregivers. A call to City Administrator Tim Miller for a status update on staff progress remained unreturned by press time.