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Is the growing of marijuana for medicinal use an urban agriculture issue?


Rancho Cordova eyes ordinance on pot growing

By Loretta Kalb
The Sacramento Bee
Jan. 10, 2010

When the persistent “skunk” smell of marijuana became too much for Linda Kurtz, she did what she said she had to do.

She went to Rancho Cordova City Hall and asked the City Council to protect her from the smell coming from her neighbor’s backyard marijuana plants.

In so doing, she brought the city to the forefront of the next big issue facing marijuana producers and municipal regulators in California.

“Where are my rights?” Kurtz said she asked the council. “What do I have to do to protect my rights?”

As more and more people become eligible to grow their own marijuana for medicinal use, should there be limits on where and how cultivation takes place?

So far, few municipalities have tackled cultivation issues. The focus has been on medical marijuana dispensaries and the law.

California voters approved possession and cultivation for eligible patients and their primary caregivers in 1996 by passing Proposition 215. In 2004, the Legislature established a voluntary statewide identification card system for patients. The state attorney general issued guidelines for patients and law enforcement in 2008.

Since then, the number of patient dispensaries – collectives or cooperatives – has grown. In the city of Sacramento, where regulation is under consideration, close to 40 dispensaries have registered. Arcata, on the North Coast, caps the number at four, and eventually the number will decrease to two. In Oakland, which allows four dispensaries, voters approved a gross-receipts tax on pot sales.

The cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento are working toward a dispensary ordinance. West Sacramento’s plan would have a limit of two dispensaries and restrict them to commercial zones.

Cities such as Anaheim and Davis prohibit dispensaries, but the Anaheim ban faces a closely watched challenge in state appeals court. A decision is expected soon.

Legalization will spread, advocates said.

“We have 14 legal states,” said Lanette Davies, who calls herself a patient-rights activist. “But the entire nation is looking at California.”

California law leaves zoning regulation to local jurisdictions – the challenge now before Rancho Cordova.

“None of us would have thought prior to her (Kurtz) coming to the council in October that cultivation was a problem,” Rancho Cordova Councilwoman Linda Budge said.

Maybe so, but Councilman David Sander offers a solution: No cultivation in residential neighborhoods.

See the rest of the article here.