Effort underway to repeal Weed's cannabis cultivation ordinance

Skye Kinkade

A group of concerned voters is circulating a referendum in an effort to repeal the City of Weed’s recently approved ordinance which provides regulations for businesses that wish to cultivate cannabis products.

“Our goal is to stop the indoor commercial cultivation of cannabis in the city limits,” said Jennifer Dickinson, who is spearheading the referendum effort, adding that the group is not against medical or recreational use by individuals. They assert, however, that cannabis cultivation businesses have negative impacts on small cities, expose the community to toxins, increase crime, and are not sustainable for the City of Weed.

Weed’s City Manager Ron Stock, however, said the referendum may not have the group’s desired outcome and would actually lessen restrictions the ordinance puts in place for businesses that grow cannabis.

Dickinson pointed out two advisory measures on the 2014 ballot, which indicated that 50.87 percent of Weed’s voters supported a citywide ban on outdoor marijuana growth and 54.29 percent disapproved of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city.

“The council is not following the advice of the voters,” Dickinson said.

The Weed City Council unanimously adopted the Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance after a second and final reading at its April 11 meeting. This gives the group 30 days from that date to collect the signatures of 10 percent of Weed’s 1,361 registered voters in their quest to suspend its enactment. They began collecting signatures on April 20.

If the proponents are able to gather 137 signatures, and if they are verified by Siskiyou County Clerk Laura Bynum, the council would be forced to make a decision. They could repeal the ordinance and reenact it in a year, place the ordinance on a special election ballot, or place it on the next general election ballot, which would be in November of 2020. The city would pick up the tab for the election.

Stock said if the ordinance is repealed, the city would lose the control the ordinance provides in relation to guidelines, regulations and restrictions of indoor cultivation. He said even without the ordinance, the city could still choose to issue a business license for a commercial cannabis business, but they wouldn’t have the Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance to fall back on.

“I do not know if the city would do that. We’ve never been forced to make that decision and we’ve never had an application,” he said.

However, Stock said, “the repeal of (the ordinance) may reduce or lessen the rules and regulations for the operation of such a business.”

During the council’s consideration of the ordinance and related public hearings, several members of the cannabis lobby attended, Stock said. They objected to some of the rules and regulations contained in the ordinance, but no one on the other side of the cannabis issue spoke.

Stock said while there’s a lot packed into the ordinance, he feels that two of its most important regulations block minors from being on premises and that a license cannot be transferred. He also said the ordinance provides strict regulations for growers to ensure odors do not escape cultivation businesses.

Dickinson said she hopes the referendum is successful and that the city council will “suspend any plans to promote, encourage or issue any more permits to businesses.”

Dickinson said cultivation of marijuana is not an energy efficient business and such a business would use too much water and electricity, and “will subject the workers ... to chemicals, fertilizers and mold ... due to pest control and humidity levels necessary to ensure optimal growth rates.”

She also called attention to health impacts – especially to children – and an increase in crime, which might not take place directly around cannabis businesses because of the required security measures, but could be increased in “outer areas in the suburbs.”

“According to the New York Times, commercial sales of cannabis violates federal law; handling the proceeds of any marijuana transaction is considered to be money laundering,” Dickinson said.

To learn more about the referendum effort, contact Dickinson at (503) 360-4476 or stopcommercialgrowing911.com.

By Skye Kinkade

The purpose of Weed’s Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance is to “implement state law by providing a means for regulating the cultivation of cannabis in a manner that balances the needs of medical patients, caregivers and adult users of cannabis, while promoting the health, safety and welfare of the residents and businesses within the city.”

The ordinance classifies cultivation into five categories, from a small “cottage class A” indoor cultivation operation of 500 square feet or less, up to a 22,000 square foot canopy in a “medium class C.” Permits are also required for nursery operations, defined as an indoor site that “conducts only cultivation of clones, immature plants, seeds and other agricultural products used specifically for the propagation of cultivation of cannabis.”

The ordinance deals solely with commercial cultivation, and does not affect previously permitted microbusinesses.

Those wishing to obtain a permit would need to apply with the city. A list of specific documentation would be required and applicants would be need to consent to fingerprinting and a criminal background investigation. Applicants would need to show state licences and submit a business plan, floor plan, site plan and a security plan. They would need to specify the air treatment system they’ll use to ensure their business doesn’t produce odors outdoors.

Permits would be valid for five years unless suspended or revoked, and ownership cannot be transferred without a new application.

Cultivation is allowed indoors only and cannabis products cannot be visible to the public from outdoors or the building’s main entrance or lobby. The buildings must remain locked at all times and they must provide surveillance cameras and an alarm system.

Sites cannot be open to the public without permission from the city manager.

Juveniles are not permitted on the site at any time and retail of cannabis is not permitted at cultivation sites. In addition, the smoking of cannabis products at the site or within 20 feet of it is also prohibited.

A look at Weed's Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance