If California voters approve Proposition 64 in November, they will make it legal for anyone over 21 to smoke marijuana and to harvest up to six plants in an indoor setting for personal use.
But Palo Alto resients wishing to grow pot in the outdoors may be in for a major buzzkill. On Monday, Oct. 24, the City Council will consider an emergency law that would expressly forbid outdoor cultivation of marijuana, effective immediately.
If approved, the emergency ordinance would maintain status quo in regard to outdoor marijuana cultivation, even if the legal landscape shifts across the state. If the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) is approved by California voters, residents would be allowed to cultivate up to six plants in a private home, provided that the plants are locked away and not visible by “normal unaided vision” from public space. While cities and counties are allowed to make regulations to enforce the rules for cultivation, they are expressly barred from completely prohibiting the growing of plants indoors.
Outdoors, however, is another story. The law doesn't specify how many plants can be grown outdoors but it does give cities the power to regulate or ban outdoor cultivation. That is exactly what the City Council plans to do when it takes up the urgency ordinance, which will require support from eight out of nine council members for passage.
A new memo from the offices of City Manager James Keene and City Attorney Molly Stump notes that if California voters approve Proposition 64, it will immediately empower residents to cultivate marijuana without limitation, except for ones written into the law.
The report notes that while cities will retain the right to regulate cultivation anytime after the adoption of the new law, those that are “concerned about the potential effects of personal cultivation may wish to ban certain activities, particularly outdoor cultivation, before the AUMA is approved by voters, pending further study and potential amendment of regulations at a later date.”
“Doing so will maintain the status quo and avoid confusion in the community, pending further study and consideration of all of the issues,” the report states.
In addition to legalizing recreational marijuana use, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act would create a regulatory system overseen by the state, which will issue licenses to businesses selling marijuana for non-medical use.
Marijuana businesses would not be able to set up shop within 600 feet of schools, day care centers or youth centers, unless allowed by a local government. Residents will also be allowed to possess up to 28.5 grams (roughly an ounce) of marijuana or 8 grams of concentrated marijuana, such as hash, according to the official voting guide.
The measure would also create two new state taxes, one on growing marijuana ($9.25 per ounce of dried marijuana flower and $2.75 per ounce of dried marijuana leaf) and another on selling marijuana (15 percent of retail price). Proceeds would be used for youth programs relating to substance abuse (60 percent), efforts to address environmental damage from illegal growing of marijuana (20 percent) and a grant program designed to “reduce any potential negative impacts on public health or safety resulting from the measure (20 percent)," according to the official voting guide.
To date, Palo Alto has taken a cautious approach. In 2011, officials took a stand against a local measure that would have legalized marijuana dispensaries, one that ultimately faltered at the ballot box. And earlier this year, the council considered but ultimately opted not to pass an emergency law that would have expressly banned the cultivation and delivery of pot within city borders.