Williams council moves to address recreational cannabis

Last Wednesday, the Williams City Council unanimously approved an urgency ordinance to temporarily ban the outdoor cultivation of recreational cannabis and any cannabis-related business within city limits.

“…This urgency ordinance, will prohibit all recreational marijuana activities, other than what can’t be prohibited, which would be individual consumption of marijuana, and growing up to six plants inside a residence,” city attorney Ann Siprelle said. “This would ban all of the other activities.”

Specifically, the urgency ordinance was proposed to address the potential nuisance created by outdoor cultivation of recreational cannabis, said Frank Kennedy, City Administrator.

“There are still some things that need to be discussed, but this urgency ordinance takes it to a very strict level, to be sure, initially,” Kennedy said, adding that as a more permanent solution was developed, the city would need to consider two factors: Issues of nuisance and safety.

“There are several moving parts in this whole thing, but we as a city need to be concerned about safety and nuisance… We have to look at each one of these issues through that scope and that lens: Will it be a nuisance, and will it be a safety hazard?”

The urgency ordinance will be in place for 45 days, at which point the council can extend it at a publicly noticed hearing. The urgency ordinance could ultimately be extended for a maximum of two years — but that likely won’t need to happen.

After approving the urgency ordinance, the council also referred a regular ordinance to the planning commission.

With bans on cultivation, transportation, and sale of medical marijuana already in place in the city’s zoning code, the regular ordinance would permanently extend those bans -— to the greatest extent allowable under Proposition 64 — to recreational cannabis. The ordinance could then be amended at any time, Siprelle said.

Kennedy noted that amendments would be necessary as the new laws pertaining to cannabis evolve.

“There’s a lot of gray area in this,” Kennedy said. “Also worth noting is that (the state) will not be ready to take on any license for recreational businesses until Jan. 2018. There will be 13 months to sort that out — this law is evolving, and it’s important to keep that in mind.”

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net