County will need to make adjustments to existing ordinance; ad-hoc committee in the works
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors will be looking to an ad-hoc committee to help them navigate the changing cannabis landscape in California.
After hearing a presentation by County Counsel Marcos Kropf on Proposition 64 and its effects on the county’s existing marijuana cultivation prohibition, the board directed staff to come up with suggestions for their marijuana ad hoc committee. Those suggestions will be brought back to the board at next month’s meeting, when they make their committee appointments for the coming year.
Kropf said that he will begin working with staff on proposed revisions to the county’s current ordinance, found under Chapter 11 of the Colusa County Code, to bring it into conformance with the new state law.
“Essentially, our county bans all cultivation. With Prop 64, (cultivation) will continue to be banned in county with exception of six plants for personal use,” Kropf told the board on Dec. 13. “The full provisions of Prop 64 say that (an adult 21 or older) can grow in a house, in residence as long as it’s in locked facility, a locked house, that is not visible from the street. Or, you can grow in your yard, basically. As long, again, as its fenced, locked, not accessible, and meets requirements under the proposition that it is not within 1,000 feet of school, daycare, or anything along those lines. Those are the default provisions…”
Kropf added that the county could add “additional, reasonable regulations” such as limiting cultivation to indoor growing, and requiring it to take place in a permitted indoor structure.
“You can limit those grow operations to indoor facilities, and can set up permitting schemes for that, and we can impose reasonable regulations in that regard,” Kropf said.
Kropf told the board that he could have an ordinance with the proposed changes ready by Jan. 1, and that the county could enact an urgency ordinance to deal with health and safety issues, if necessary.
“It shouldn’t take very long. What I would do is work with staff and see what the provisions we can add are. I would expect that by Jan. 1, I would have a first reading on those changes,” Kropf said. “I don’t foresee a lot of growing activity in the next month. Marijuana harvesting is pretty much done for the year. On outdoor grows, it will start probably in the spring. So, I don’t anticipate a real state of urgency in that respect.”
Colusa County CAO Wendy Tyler disagreed with Kropf’s assessment of the matter’s urgency, noting that potential indoor grows could take place before spring.
“I don’t like to disagree with counsel publicly, but I think this is a very urgent matter. I don’t know if it qualifies for an urgency ordinance, but I think that marijuana cultivation is on everybody’s radar,” Tyler said. “…I really think that it would behoove this board to have Marcos pull together whatever group of county personnel that the board and he deem fit to get to work on this issue and come up with some suggestions for you in terms of modifications to the ordinance.”
Referring to the Colusa City Council’s recent decision to welcome Cultivation Technologies, Inc. — a so-called “commercial cannabis campus” — to the city, Tyler said that there was added urgency to modify the county ordinance.
“I really do believe that it should happen quicker rather than later. There are things going on, that you’re aware of, that are certainly sending a contradictory message, I believe, to folks involved in the marijuana industry,” Tyler said.
Board chair Denise Carter agreed with Tyler and recommended that she and Kropf work to put a team together to address Proposition 64.
“Work with Wendy, the DA, the Sheriff, probably probation and maybe a supervisor or two to figure out what we’re going to do with this. Obviously, it’s coming into our county. Unfortunately, the city has greater jurisdiction over the county,” Carter said. “…Why do we have this system of government that — it’s sort like we have federal rules that now everyone is breaking, county rules, and yet the city can do what they want to do.” ■
Kropf answers questions from board
can we ban indoor grows where children are present? (Loudon)
Kropf – “Not if it interferes with ability of a person to grow their six plants. I’d have to look at it a little closer, but as I understand it, there is no restriction, for example, (on growing) in your family house. If I’m a parent, and I want to expose my kids to that, that being the law, it seems to prevent (someone from doing) that. In the law, having marijuana in the presence of children would not provide a basis for a child protective service action, or ability to go after them criminally for endangerment of children. In fact, law has specific provision that says that.
Can someone grow for their neighbor (co-op) if they want to? (Carter, Vann)
Kropf – “I don’t believe you can grow for your neighbor, but what would happen is, lets say you come to a house and you have two adults, four adults, each one of those adults can have up to six plants. It’s for personal use, so don’t believe you can grow for your neighbor. Under medical marijuana provisions, which is different, it doesn’t change, other than requiring your identification cards to be issued by the county, which is another issue. It doesn’t really effect that, but complete ban in place would still prevent that.
Our current code not consistent with the new legislation. That said, does state law trump our code until we get ours revisited, and change it to make it consistent? (Marshall)
Kropf – “Essentially, with respect to the six plants, it does preempt or trump our code. Could not enforce, for example, if someone in unincorporated area started growing six plants in an enclosed place for pers. use, could not go in and do a county code enforcement action against them, w/ respect to six plants. Now, if it was 10, or 100 plants, it would be my opinion that we could do limited enforcement, or if it was commercial, we could still do limited enforcement.”
Will there be a fee or fine for violation of whatever provisions the county comes up with after the county adopts a new ordinance for cultivation of recreational Marijuana? (vann)
Kropf – “We currently have whole process and procedure in place (for medical marijuana cultivation). We do it on a nuisance abatement basis. I believe that the nuisance abatement process is pretty effective. There are certain limitations on how much we can fine (under new ordinance for cultivation for personal use), but we can place fines and civil penalties for every violation in there. We can work on tweaking that process. Under our current ordinance, we are entitled to recover all of our costs under code enforcement, and to the extent that the property owners can’t pay or are unwilling to pay, we can enforce that through a lien on the property. We have a whole process, and appeal process, to go through that.”
Do you think that we adopting 64 and the changes we’re going to need to be making are violating federal law? (Vann)
Kropf – “Our restrictions don’t violate federal law. Regardless of what the State of California does, regardless of what the County of Colusa does, marijuana cultivation, possession, transportation is still a Schedule I drug, prohibited by federal law. The current administration, for the last eight years, has taken a hands-off approach on that, unless it was very large grow operation, or there was other crimes involved — for example, drug cartels. Usually, I have seen grow operations where there are plants in excess of 1,000 plants, or if there is money laundering operations or foreign nationals involved with the grow operation, (where) usually the DEA, FBI and Treasury Dept would come in. But over last eight years, the federal government have taken a hands-off approach with smaller operations… I have seen them up in excess of 100 plants, and not really having enforcement action. But that might change. That’s not to say that under the new administration — and I haven’t seen anything either way on this — if you’re growing six plants, 10 plants, 50 plants, it doesn’t stop DEA or FBI from coming in, taking all your plants, taking house under asset forfeiture and sending you to jail. Whether that happens or not, I don’t know. Alternatively, the federal government might take a contrary position and bring it more in line with some of the states, and limit the restrictions.”