The Weed Planning Commission voted 3-1 Wednesday of last week to recommend an ordinance banning all outdoor marijuana cultivation.

The Weed Planning Commission voted 3-1 Wednesday of last week to recommend an ordinance banning all outdoor marijuana cultivation.

Commissioners Virgil Tuman, Paul Zwetsloot and Richard Acquistapace agreed that indoor cultivation is adequate and asked all references to outdoor growing be struck from the drafted ordinance, which will now be presented to the city council for possible adoption.

Casting a no vote was Wes Dutt, who suggested at the Commission’s last meeting that two plants should be allowed outdoors with specific safety measures in place.

Zwetsloot said he’s “for maximum liberty” and believes that people have the right to smoke and grow medical marijuana, and “do what they want on their own property, as long as they’re not hurting anyone.”

In the case of outdoor cultivation, however, Zwetsloot said he believes it does hurt people, even with just two plants outside, because it is an enticement for youth to steal.

“Drawing a line would limit a lot of indirect harm,” Zwetsloot said of banning outdoor growing.

“I definitely think (outdoor growing) is infringing on people’s rights,” said Tuman. He pointed out that just one plant, being grown outdoors, can be odorous.

“Outdoor growing is not good for any of us,” said Acquistapace. “All the people I’ve talked to say to just ban it completely.”

Zwetsloot said his attitude changed since the Commission’s last meeting on Jan. 15, when he considered allowing two plants to be grown outside. Hearing comments from three Weed residents on the topic helped solidify his thoughts, he said.

During the public hearing, Marilyn Blankenship, Julie Hofer and Mike Faria all said they are against outdoor marijuana cultivation.

Blankenship said there are “already so many abuses with marijuana” and Weed’s youth needs to be protected. She said an outright ban on outdoor growing would be easier to enforce.

“I really feel that our town’s leaders need to model a higher standard for our youth,” Blankenship said.

Hofer said outdoor cultivation creates a public nuisance. She called attention to the smell, a reduction in property value and an increase in likelihood of crime and theft.

Faria said his neighbors grow marijuana outdoors and during the harvesting months the smell is unpleasant to the point that he can’t use his own porch.

Cultivation regulations

According to the draft ordinance, cultivation would be allowed inside “fully enclosed and secure structures” only. This includes homes that comply with the California Building Code, or inside secure buildings that have a complete roof, foundation, and slab. The structures must be “secure against unauthorized entry and weather,” and accessible through lockable doors.

Greenhouses must be made of “rigid translucent materials, such as polycarbonate panels, of significant strength to insure the security of their contents.”

The cultivation area may not exceed 50 square feet and plants can be no more than 6 feet tall. Lighting can’t exceed 1,000 watts and the use of gas products in cultivation or processing is prohibited.

No exterior evidence of cultivation may be seen from outside the residence and the authorized grower must live in the residence being used, according to the ordinance.

Odor eliminating filtration systems may be required to mitigate odors, and marijuana cultivation “shall not result in any type of profit for the grower or parcel owner,” the ordinance states.

Cultivation is not allowed on commercial property, according to the ordinance.

Enforcement and nuisance abatement

Zwetsloot asked City Attorney Bob Winston how the ordinance would be enforced.

Winston said people would be issued a cultivation permit on the condition that code enforcement can inspect their indoor growing operation at any time.

Neighbors will still have the ability to complain and nuisances can be abated under the ordinance if smells are overwhelming or other problems arise.

Permits could be revoked by the city if guidelines aren’t followed after five days’ written notice and a public hearing, according to the ordinance’s text.

Zwetsloot questioned if it is necessary to have a public hearing for such a step. Winston said it is best that one person not have the final say on such a matter and that a public hearing allows for proper procedure to be followed.

Next steps

The Weed City Council will discuss the proposed marijuana cultivation ordinance at their next meeting, to be held Thursday, March 13, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at City Council Chambers, 550 Main Street.