MONTEBELLO - Proposition 64, the marijuana-legalization initiative approved by voters in November, allows California residents to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes. But in Montebello, local growers will have to pay a steep price to do so.
The City Council on Wednesday set the fee at $249 for a permit to grow marijuana plants at home. The permit must be renewed every two years.
Montebello’s law also requires that marijuana plants not be seen outdoors. Odor, light and heat from any growing operations also should not be detectable from outside a home. Selling or transferring of the plants is banned, and the city will require periodic inspections of homes where marijuana is being grown.
The ordinance, first drafted in January, is among the first local laws regulating marijuana cultivation in the state. Several other cities in Southern California also have passed similar ordinances, including Aliso Viejo, Fontana, Indian Wells, San Jacinto and San Juan Capistrano.
Councilman Jack Hadjinian said with marijuana now legal, the city had to figure out a way regulate the drug inside city borders.
“This at least gives us some sort of tool to have some kind of control over this issue,” he said.
Despite the fact that Proposition 64 limits the number of plants Californians can grow in their homes, Hadjinian was worried about the possibility of residents attempting to set up major growing operations in neighborhoods. He said with Montebello’s new ordinance, the city now has a right to inspect those homes.
But others say the new law is unenforceable.
“It seems like an exercise of futility,” said Councilman Bill Molinari. “Of course you’re not supposed to sell it, but you can do it out of view without anybody aware of what you’re doing. There’s a lot of folks who will say if no one knows I’m doing it, why pay the $249.”
Marijuana activists also said the city risks being sued over its rules.
“The sponsors of Proposition 64 don’t accept this as legitimate,” said Dale Gieringer, the director of California chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws. “The idea is that people have the right to grow six (marijuana) plants, just as they have the right to grow tomatoes or strawberries. It’s really an unacceptable violation of personal freedom.”
Gieringer co-authored Proposition 215, which created California’s legal medical marijuana system, the first in the country. He said if he lived in Montebello, he would just ignore the need to get a permit.
Since October, when most polls indicated Proposition 64 would cruise to a victory on Election Day, Montebello leaders were clear about their intention to get a handle on what legal marijuana cultivation would mean for their city.
That month, the council voted unanimously to impose a 45-day moratorium on recreational marijuana businesses that would go into effect if Proposition 64 passed. With marijuana legal, the council passed an extension of the moratorium, stretching it to 10 months and 15 days.
Councilman Art Barajas said at the time that he wanted to be able to study Prop. 64 and its effects in more detail. Barajas said this week that while the city’s new rules on marijuana growing might be difficult to enforce, he believed that it was better than doing nothing.
“We’re trying to be responsible,” Barajas said.
For her part, Mayor Vivian Romero said the fee was too low.
Romero said she remains concerned about residents overdoing it with their marijuana growing plans. She was worried that residents would plant too many pants, overburdening electrical circuits and using lots of water. She also said there could be issues of mold and mildew.
“What happens when staff has to go out and check on these issues?” she asked.
Assistant City Attorney Chris Cardinale noted the city may only collect fees based on the costs of regulation. The city is also planning to conduct a study to determine whether the fee amount should be raised.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Montebello Sets Fee For Growing Marijuana In City, Question How They’ll Enforce It
Author: Mike Sprague
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Photo Credit: Ed Andrieski
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