Temecula City Council Proposes Complete Ban on Marijuana Cultivation - Public Hearing on January 26, 2016

In response to the recently enacted Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), the Temecula City Council is moving quickly to ban all marijuana cultivation within its city limits. In short, the MMRSA allows individuals who apply for state and local licenses to engage in commercial medical marijuana cultivation, distribution, and delivery.  

On December 16, 2015, the City of Temecula Planning Commission adopted Planning Application Number LR15-1619 Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance.  This Application recommends that the Temecula City Council adopt the Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance, which would add sections 8.52-8.52.050 to the Temecula Municipal Code.  The full text of the proposed ordinance is available here.   

Given the city's past hostility towards medical marijuana and its users, it is unsurprising that the City Council is moving swiftly to institute a complete ban on all marijuana cultivation within the city limits.  Section 8.52.040 of the proposed ordinance provides:

Marijuana cultivation, either indoors or outdoors, fixed or mobile, for medical or other uses, is prohibited on all parcels, all zones, and all specific plan areas in the City and is hereby declared to be unlawful and a public nuisance. No person owning, renting, leasing, occupying or having charge or possession of any parcel shall cause or allow such parcel to be used for marijuana cultivation. The foregoing prohibition shall be imposed regardless of the number of qualified patients or primary caregivers residing at the premises or participating directly or indirectly in the cultivation. Further, this prohibition shall be imposed notwithstanding any assertion that the person or persons cultivating marijuana are the primary caregiver or caregivers for qualified patients or that such person or persons are collectively or cooperatively cultivating marijuana. 

Before Governor Brown signed the MMRSA, Temecula did not have a city ordinance prohibiting marijuana cultivation (only medical marijuana dispensaries).  Instead of prohibiting cultivation on large scales as prescribed by the MMRSA, the Temecula City Council is taking a drastic step by "zoning out" all marijuana cultivation, perhaps even personal cultivation sites for qualified patients.  

The City Council appears to be proceeding so quickly because of a typo in the MMRSA.  In its original language, the MMRSA provides that if cities do not have an ordinance regulating or prohibiting cultivation by March 1, 2016, they will lose their authority to regulate or ban cultivation within their city limits. However, Jim Wood, one of the MMRSA's drafters, clarified that the March 1st deadline in the MMRSA will be amended, and that cities who do not pass legislation before the deadline will not lose local regulatory control to the state.  

Perhaps the City Council's unnecessary rush in passing the local ordinance is what caused city officials to the determine that "[t]he adoption of the proposed ordinance will have no direct fiscal impact to the City’s General Fund."  While cities across Colorado and Washington rake in record levels of tax revenues from marijuana sales, city officials in Temecula have somehow decided that a flat out prohibition on marijuana cultivation (and the accompanying loss of tax revenue on marijuana cultivation and sales) will not impact the City's General Fund.  While it is true that adoption and enforcement of this ordinance will cost the City of Temecula little, it will cost it thousands and thousands of dollars in foregone taxes, which could be used to fund law enforcement activities and schools.  

At 7:00 p.m. on January 26, 2016, the Temecula City Council is holding a public hearing regarding the Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance.  Details on the public hearing are available here.  At the hearing, the City Council will decide whether or not to include an exemption in the local ban on marijuana cultivation for qualified patients.  

If you support a patient's right to safe access to marijuana, please attend the hearing and voice your opposition to the ordinance.  

I refuse to support the measure without an exemption for qualified patients.  Without such an exemption, the City Council will inhibit patients' access to the medicine of their choice.  It will supplant the judgement of doctors who recommend marijuana to their patients with legislation, and deny patients the liberty and dignity to treat their illnesses as they and their doctors see fit.  

If you come to the public hearing on January 26, you'll notice Temecula's motto at your feet as you walk in to City Hall:  "Old Traditions.  New Opportunities."  Unfortunately, this is one circumstance where old traditions are undoubtedly encumbering new opportunities.

I encourage you to attend the hearing on January 26, 2016, at 7:00 p.m.  Temecula City Hall is located at:

41000 Main St, Temecula, CA 92590

If you cannot attend the hearing, reach out to our City Council members.  Their contact information is available here.  

Posted by Mike Donaldson.