Violations of city’s cannabis ordinance can lead to fines, court time

Medical marijuana. Katharine Lotze/Signal

In April, the City of Santa Clarita formally prohibited commercial land uses associated with cannabis and regulating home cultivation. Home growers in violation of the new law, which went into effect this month, may have to pay fines of up to $500 or appear in court.

The ordinance is in response to the statewide Proposition 64, also known as the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The proposition legalized cannabis in 2016 and enabled 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, so the Santa Clarita City Council voted April 10 against doing so.

The proposition allows Californians to grow up to six cannabis plants for recreational use in their private residences, while the ordinance establishes standards for home cultivation, such as prohibiting growth in spaces like backyards and balconies. Residents are also currently allowed to recreationally smoke within a private, enclosed and secured residence. No permits will be required to grow plants in secure and enclosed spaces, unless structural changes or electrical upgrades to accommodate home growth are required, said David Peterson, associate planner with the city’s Planning Division.

The city’s Community Preservation Division’s Code Enforcement program is responsible for investigating any violations of the ordinance. If someone reports a possible violation, Code Enforcement officials are tasked with doing an initial investigation of the location. They may also bring in the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department if they feel the violation is serious enough, said Danny Rivas, the city’s Community Preservation Manager.

Code Enforcement usually works in conjunction with the department to investigate cases.

Fines would vary based on the number of citations issued, similar to traffic tickets, Rivas said.

“A first time violation would be a $100 fine minimum, and with that fine it would explain to them they need to cease and desist,” he said. “If they were observed doing it again, then they would be issued a second fine from $200. A third offense could be issued $500, and after the fourth time, then that’s when we’d work with the City’s Attorney’s office to potentially bring it to court.”

Individuals who want to report a violation can contact the office directly at 661-286-4076. They may also go to the city’s website’s City’s Resident Service Center, an online reporting system available for residents, and click on the “Community Preservation/Code Enforcement” category. Reported violations can be filed under the Land Use/Zoning section.

No businesses or individuals have been officially charged in violation of the new ordinances. The city is currently investigating any cannabis delivery services that claim to be operating within the City of Santa Clarita, said city spokeswoman Carrie Lujan.

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