Should growing pot outdoors, even for medical purposes, be banned in Concord? Of just regulated?
The city is trying to decide what to do about the issue of outdoor medical marijuana cultivation, and after a discussion at the Dec. 11 city council meeting, is considering an outright ban. Concord will be considering an ordiance similar to that imposed in the City of Moraga, which stipulates that:
- No person owning, renting, leasing, occupying, or having charge or possession of any parcel shall cause or allow such parcel to be used for the outdoor cultivation of marijuana plants.
- No person owning, renting, leasing, occupying, having charge or possession of a parcel shall cause or allow indoor cultivation on such parcel to be visible from any street, sidewalk or other place freely accessible by the public.
A complaint was brought to the council back in October about the smell of plants and concerns over the safety of growing drugs — medically acceptable kinds or not — in residential neighborhoods. The Concord Police Department confirms that there are a number of residences in Concord where pot is being cultivated outdoors.
Some problems association with growing pot outdoors are described in the staff recommendation for the Dec. 11 council meeting, the "offensive" smell. The report adds that "the presence of medical marijuana plants grown outdoors creates a risk to public safety, since their value and visibility encourage trespass[ing] and theft, posing the accompanying risk of violence and injury." When the plants are grown close to schools, there is also a concern that of "theft and use by school-aged children."
State law permits medical marijuana patients to grow their own supply, although no stipulations have been set as to whether marijuana should be cultivated indoors or out.
As such, the Concord City Council has the power to impose an outright ban, if it so chooses. The City of Moraga, for example, has a blanket ban on outdoor medical marijuana cultivation.
Concord could also opt for an ordinance instead, such as that implemented by Elk Grove. The ordinance requires that:
- Only the medical marijuana patient or primary caregiver may grow the plants
- A permit be obtained before cultivating marijuana
- A fee may need to be paid
- Plants are are only grown in residential and agricultural-residential zones
- The plants must be at least 1,000 feet away from any school, child care center, or public park
- Growing structures must be located in the rear yard area, a minimum of ten 10 feet from any property line, enclosed by a solid fence at least 6 feet in height, secure, no larger than 120 square feet, and inspected by the city
- The structures also have a ventilation and filtration system installed to prevent marijuana plant odors from wafting into the neighborhood
- Mechanical or electronic security systems are approved by the city and installed in and around the detached structure or the residential structure prior to growing
- Medical marijuana plants shall not be visible from outside the building in which they are grown
What do you think the city should do about growing medical marijuana outdoors? Share your thoughts in the comments.