News

New law would keep outdoor pot growth illegal in Palo Alto

With California voters preparing to decide on legalizing pot, council looks to limit cultivation to indoors

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.

Related content:

Medical-marijuana delivery services operate in gray area

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Comments

31 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2016 at 11:26 am

Legislators should really not concern themselves with marijuana. Marijuana usage is a person's private business.

It's definitely "bad for you" and that's why taxing it makes sense... but that's as far as it should go.

It seems decriminalization is now inevitable.

Keene and Stump ought to have more important things to worry about. They are being overly intrusive.


31 people like this
Posted by sve
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 15, 2016 at 2:41 pm

sve is a registered user.

The whole point of AUMA proposition is to legalize personal use of marijuana. If it passes, then that is the will of the people and will become law. For Palo Alto to restrict citizen's actions on their own personal property that is in accordance with California law is ridiculous. There is no emergency, and no emergency action needs to be taken by the city council on Oct 24 to enact marijuana restrictions beyond California law.


18 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 15, 2016 at 3:27 pm

Let's hear from all the city council candidates and incumbents on exactly where they stand on this.

Also, how does this effect those who have medical marijuana cards?

Thanks in advance for your SPECIFIC answers on your positions and how you plan to police backyards?


9 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2016 at 4:50 pm

I support this measure... Don't need potheads growing it in our neighborhoods, whether it's legalized or not.


13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Allow growing it in private, ban smoking it in public.


34 people like this
Posted by indoors too
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 15, 2016 at 6:43 pm

I think there should be limitations on how much pot can be grown INdoors. Our rental properties shouldn't be turned into grow-houses.


13 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Oct 15, 2016 at 8:38 pm

"Marijuana usage is a person's private business."

Unfortunately the smell is really really bad and I don't want to smell your second hand smoke.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2016 at 9:26 pm

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by sve
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 15, 2016 at 10:28 pm

sve is a registered user.

Prop 64 (if passed) will allow for a citizen to grow up to 6 plants indoors or outdoors. And I understand that the electricity load for indoor plant lights is enormous compared to just using natural outdoor sunlight. I suspect it will become like growing tomatoes or cucumbers or any other garden plant, no big deal to anyone.

And it will put a big dent in the underground drug trafficking scene. And we could all use less crime in Palo Alto, and a police force concentrating on real crimes instead of victimless ones.


15 people like this
Posted by Kay
a resident of University South
on Oct 16, 2016 at 3:10 am

And it's perfectly OK to tart up the neighborhood pharmacy with aisle upon aisle of hard liquor. Heaven forbid you grow an herb in your own backyard.


15 people like this
Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 16, 2016 at 7:15 am

This is an EMERGENCY if there ever was one. Our CC is suffering from reefer madness. Is this another attempt to "save" the children. Get a grip.


12 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2016 at 9:20 am

Why is this an emergency? What happened to process and discussing this in the City Council? What is the position of the Council Members and the Candidates running for City Council? Out of curiousity, what is the public health threat necessitating this emergency action?


21 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 16, 2016 at 10:06 am

How absolutely ludicrous that the Mr. Keene and Ms Stunpf have proposed to place Palo Alto edicts above state law. I guess they think that because they are paid like royalty -- more than the president, more than the governor -- they think they can dictate private conduct to us lowly taxpayers.

Oddly, I don't hear them saying they'll forego the huge tax revenues but they idiotically want us to "lock away" "the plants indoors while wasting electricity on grow lights! I guess they need to pay their new PA Utility head's $285,000 straight salary somehow so he can preach a new conserve-to-we-can-raise-rates song!

And why "lock the plants up"?? Are they going to escape? Do they want to force us to buy plant locks?? Are they going to send inspectors around to our homes to enforce this??

Not grow plants in our private back yards on which we pay ridiculously high taxes?? Are they going to inspect our back yards? Is this yet another ploy to hire a bunch of highly paid garden inspectors like they tried to do during the drought?

Finally, how special they could move so quickly on this when it takes them years and years to even address -- forget about fix -- the simplest traffic problems.

The city council should vote down this absurd power grab. City management should mellow out and concentrate and REAL problems.


20 people like this
Posted by PA vs SF
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 16, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Perhaps the Millenials seeking to move to Palo Alto and turn it into their own playground should keep in mind that this is currently a family-centered city. They may find SF more to their liking.


2 people like this
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 16, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Apparently Palo Alto real estate is so cheap it will sense to grow crops here. And Palo Alto home owners will suddenly take up gardening to produce a crop that will be easily and legally available.


15 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2016 at 9:15 pm

It's just irritating to read this kind of stuff. Until something is some kind of
real problem - regulation should not be an issue.

I think it would behoove anyone wanting to grow marijuana on their property
to conceal it from public view since it would be easy to steal.

While I', not crazy about the idea of people smoking pot in public, or driving
while stoned, these are problems that will get worked out ... the real
problem was the illegalization of pot in order to preferentially harrass and
jail Blacks and Latinos.

Isn't it time to acknowledge and change the things that are wrong with our
society. Smoking marijuana should be an individual's choice as long as they
are safe about it.


9 people like this
Posted by Gadfly
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2016 at 9:37 am

I would say this proposed ordinance has a HUGE environmental impact. Making it illegal to grow outdoors will force people to invest in grow lights and indoor grow operations that will utilize a significant amount of electricity for no reason.


6 people like this
Posted by Jerry Garcia
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 17, 2016 at 10:03 am

I'm voting for Trump. Less government telling me what to do. Try to come and take my plants!


14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 17, 2016 at 10:06 am

@Mike "Unfortunately the smell is really really bad and I don't want to smell your second hand smoke."

Plants growing outside do NOT smell really really bad and not all marijuana is smoked. Many prefer edibles; growing your own makes it affordable to make your own edibles.

Legalization also reduces crime and enforcement unless Palo Alto wants to grow our city employment rolls by hiring garden police and police to come into our homes to ensure our indoor plants are "locked up"!


12 people like this
Posted by margaret
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 17, 2016 at 10:52 am

Keane just wants an excuse to bloat the Police force to four times its current bloated level, just so they can inspect everybody's backyard, and account for his bloated salaries again

Whatever happened to the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave? Not Palo Alto, I guess




6 people like this
Posted by sve
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 19, 2016 at 6:41 am

sve is a registered user.

For those worrying about their rental properties turning into grow houses - stop. You don't need an ordinance to prevent that. Just like you don't need an ordinance if you don't want renters to smoke tobacco, or have any damaging pets like cats and dogs. You just stipulate it in the rental agreement. Passing a town ordinance to prevent it is ridiculous - we need fewer laws in our lives and more responsibility. And for those wishing to legally grow plants indoors, and pay the exhorbitant electric bill with its horrible carbon footprint, well it ain't illegal anymore, just not smart.


4 people like this
Posted by notgood
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2016 at 8:29 am

The article states that marijuana business will not be allowed any closer than 600 feet. That's about a normal city block. So it will be allowed one block away from schools -- not much protection for children at all.


2 people like this
Posted by re-sale
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2016 at 11:15 am

My concern is the number of "MC" users (or their kids) who sell pot to MS and HS kids in our community. This will only get worse if pot is legalized for 21+ and PA residents can grow their own (ostensibly for private use, but nothing to keep them from selling too).


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 19, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Do you really think legalization is going to create mobs of adults from Palo Alto who are suddenly going to start selling it to your kids??

Adults have been consuming marijuana for decades. Kids who've wanted it have always gotten it.

The only thing that will change is that the prison population and its costs will shrink drastically because marijuana arrests outnumber ALL other crimes COMBINED so governments will both cut costs AND collect all new sales tax revenues. San Jose, for example, funded 3 branch libraries and about 50 cops with its marijuana sales tax revenues.

PS: Not all PA residents are parents. Or potential criminals.


4 people like this
Posted by Cedric de La Beaujardiere
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 19, 2016 at 8:22 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere is a registered user.

Does anyone know what happened Monday? I can't find any information online about what Council did on this issue. @Gennady you must have been there, any update?


2 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 19, 2016 at 9:48 pm

Cedric de La Beaujardiere, the meeting is NEXT Monday so there's still time to write /call your council members etc.

.>>>>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.....


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