CORRECTION: City Council OKs prohibiting commercial land uses associated with cannabis

Marijuana. Katharine Lotze/Signal

Ed. note: The following story corrects inaccuracies that were reported in the Wednesday edition of The Signal.

Santa Clarita City Council unanimously accepted an ordinance prohibiting commercial land uses associated with cannabis and regulating home cultivation.

The ordinance is in response to the statewide Proposition 64, also known as the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The proposition, which legalized cannabis in 2016, began issuing licenses to businesses dispensing cannabis Jan. 2 of this year. But the licenses would only be issued by the state if local jurisdictions allowed them.

The City Council passed a temporary moratorium on commercial cannabis-related land uses in January 2017, and then again in November 2017 until December 2018.

The Planning Commission recommended in February amendments to municipal code, according to a presentation by David Peterson, associate planner with the city’s Planning Division. The proposition allows Californians to grow up to six plants within their own home, and establishes standards when doing so, such as prohibiting growth in outdoor spaces like backyards and on balconies or in garages. No permits will be required to grow plants within indoor, secure and enclosed spaces, unless structural changes or electrical upgrades to accommodate home growth are required.

The proposition allows Californians to grow up to six cannabis plants for recreational use in their private residences. Residents are also currently allowed to recreationally smoke within a private, enclosed and secured residence.

If it passes a second reading and is approved at the council’s April 10 meeting, the ordinance would go into effect 30 days later.

Currently, any illegal uses of marijuana are subject to enforcement by the city’s Community Preservation Division, which is generally complaint-driven, Peterson said.

Further discussion on enforcement will be discussed if the city passes the ordinance, Peterson said.

Resident Bart Joseph recommended the city change the ordinance and said that since 2008, when the city prohibited medicinal marijuana, an increase of black market activity had occurred.

“This ordinance does not meet the needs of the citizens and provides unreasonable access to cannabis related products for adults as well as my concern, medical patients.” he said. “Stop using the building codes as an excuse for expunging felonies. Stop creating a bigger opioid issue than you already have.”

Valencia resident Logan Smith was also opposed and expressed confusion that the city was not taking advantage of the business opportunity he said regulating marijuana would bring.

“The data just doesn’t support the fears that get brought up about the subject,” he said. “This is a human issue and this is a business issue. And we have an opportunity here in the city to take the lead on this rather than stick our heads in the sand and let the black market continue to thrive.”

Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean asked for clarification for the difference between medical and recreational marijuana and reiterated that the ordinance did not prohibit anyone from using it for personal purposes.

Councilman Cameron Smyth also noted the ordinance doesn’t impact anyone dependent on medicinal marijuana.

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