County unveils new marijuana law

From the 12.22.10 issue

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By Daniel Mintz
Press Staff Writer

The county has released its draft of a new and more restrictive medical marijuana ordinance, the first in a series that will cover various aspects of medical cultivation.
The draft ordinance applying to residential grows and the permitting of dispensaries, collectives and home delivery services was released at the end of last week. It borrows from the contents of ordinances in effect in Arcata and Eureka, which rely on land use standards as the basis for regulation.
Compared to the current county ordinance, the residential aspect of the proposed new one reduces a patient’s allowable growing area by half, to 50 feet. The area can be expanded to 100 feet under a special permit process that would require proof of need for the additional cannabis, however.
Mention of plant numbers and processed marijuana amounts is omitted from the new ordinance.
It names 1200 watts as a maximum lighting standard, bans the use of extension cords, requires ventilation and mandates that “no visual, auditory or olfactory evidence” of cultivation” is allowed from public right-of-ways or neighboring houses.
No sales are allowed and patients are required to live in the homes where they’re growing. Growing structures need building permits under the proposed ordinance and cultivation can’t increase the consumption from any body of water that’s listed as impaired.
Co-ops, dispensaries, collectives and delivery services are also regulated under the new ordinance. The total number of all of them is limited to 12 in the county. They’d need conditional use permits and would only be allowed in “specifically enumerated zones.”
None could be within a 600 foot radius of a school and the county’s Planning Commission will consider the cumulative impacts of being within 500 feet of churches, schools, playgrounds, parks, libraries, residential treatment facilities and other dispensaries.
Earliest and latest allowable hours of operation would be from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the sale of marijuana edibles would not be allowed. Coastal development permits would be required in coastal zones.
The Planning Commission will do an initial review of the ordinance at its Jan. 6 meeting. As per the direction of the Board of Supervisors, the Commission won’t take any action at that meeting.
Supervisors discussed the new ordinance’s approval process at its Dec. 14 meeting and also decided to hold a yet-to-be scheduled public workshop on it.
Supervisor Mark Lovelace, who along with Jimmy Smith comprises the Board’s ordinance subcommittee, said the county will draft several ordinances, each covering different issues.
Community Development Director Kirk Girard elaborated, saying that the next piece of work will venture into the unknown.
“The other end of this is that there are many wider issues in Humboldt associated with outdoor cultivation, cultivation on large lots and the connection between dispensaries and their suppliers” he said. “That issue is much more complex.”
It will demand more public involvement, Girard continued, because “that truly is breaking new ground.”

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