News

Editorial: The cannabis contradiction

Voters declared pot legal, but city officials seek to limit state law's impact — because they can

Palo Alto voters left no doubt about their views on the legalization of recreational marijuana use when they went to the polls last November.

Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, received support from two-thirds (66 percent) of Palo Alto voters, the second largest margin among Santa Clara County cities (Mountain View was first with 68 percent) and well above the 56 percent statewide vote approving the measure.

Any candidate receiving 66 percent of the vote would be considered to have won by a landslide.

Yet the Palo Alto City Council's Policy and Services Committee voted 3-0 (Wolbach, Kou and Kniss) last week to endorse the city attorney's recommendation to adopt a local ordinance designed to at least temporarily pre-empt the state from issuing any licenses for commercial cannabis activities in Palo Alto.

If passed by the full City Council after its summer break, all commercial cannabis enterprises except delivery services would be prohibited, including retail sales, dispensaries, commercial cultivation and warehousing within the city limits. Under the proposed ordinance, the only exception would be state-licensed delivery services, which would be permitted to make deliveries of marijuana within the city limits.

Without such an ordinance, under Proposition 64 the state could begin issuing licenses for retail stores and other commercial cannabis activities starting on Jan. 1, 2018. (The City Council adopted a similar prohibition on medicinal marijuana dispensaries in 1997 after California voters legalized it with the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996. That ban remains in effect.)

While there is justifiable caution about relinquishing regulatory authority to the state on Jan. 1, the community's strong support of Proposition 64 should prompt the city to actively work to implement the law rather than block it and to resolve any concerns as soon as possible. Blocking the implementation of Proposition 64 simply because it can disrespects the clear wishes of the voters.

It is particularly inappropriate for the proposed city ordinance to prohibit the backyard cultivation of cannabis plants for personal use, as expressly permitted in Proposition 64. This provision has nothing to do with the impending state regulation of commercial activities and no justification is offered in the staff report except the illogical statement that "to avoid confusion and preserve local control, the committee may want to recommend that council add an express prohibition of all outdoor marijuana cultivation."

Last October, just a week before Proposition 64 passed, the council passed an emergency measure prohibiting outdoor cultivation. Since the right to grow up to six plants for personal use was to take effect immediately upon passage of the proposition, the city wanted to pre-empt the law, ban outdoor cultivation and defer until after the outcome of the election a discussion on the merits of allowing backyard plants.

Now, instead of allowing the ban to sunset as planned this November, the city staff proposed an indefinite ban on outdoor cultivation. To its credit, the council policy committee pushed back and is instead recommending a simple extension of the ban through 2018. Without saying so explicitly, the staff and committee are trying to make a distinction between growing six plants indoors, which the city has no legal power to control, and growing them in the backyard, which it is allowed to prohibit under Proposition 64.

We find no justification for this regulatory overreach. The council's responsibility should be to implement its provisions except where uncertainties or concerns exist over the state's impending regulatory scheme.

Under Proposition 64, indoor cultivation of six plants, possession of up to an ounce of dried cannabis flowers and 8 grams of concentrate by adults over 21 for recreational use in their own homes became immediately legal upon passage of the measure.

But in a Catch-22, all commercial activities, including the buying and selling of marijuana, do not to become legal until Jan. 1, 2018. As a result, it is currently legal for adults over 21 to consume cannabis and grow six plants in their home but illegal to buy it in any form (or grow it in their backyard.) Therefore plants or seeds must come in the form of gifts from medicinal cannabis users.

Palo Alto officials need to embrace the new law, not resist it. Residents should be able to grow six plants in their backyards instead of indoors if they wish without the city's interference, and city officials should focus their attention on successfully implementing the will of the voters rather than using legal strategies to block it.

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Comments

13 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 7:45 am

No surprise here. PA is a lot more conservative than people pretend.


7 people like this
Posted by Pot? YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 23, 2017 at 7:46 am

So said 64% of Palo Alto voters. Mountain View did also consider a ban on outdoor personal crops but thought better of it after seeing the election results (68% Yes on Prop 64).


9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 23, 2017 at 8:29 am

The focus of Palo Alto as a adjunct city to SU is EDUCATION. If you all have not noticed PA actively wards off big box stores and high rise buildings. That is what we are selling here. Safe city, safe schools - we hope. And note that starts-ups once they get traction go on to other cities. That includes FB, Google, and Apple. Every city does not have to be like other cities. We will never be San Jose - and Mountain View has surpassed us in big box and big corporation. We are selling kids hanging out at the library, soccer, little league, dance, music. I am personally tired of people trying to shame us for that. People can move to other cities that are selling different life styles and amenities.

Note on selling anything in CA - the SFC has a giant article about the State Board of Equalization which includes management of the sales tax on pot and liquor. Looks like money is going every which way except to where it is suppose to be going. The SJM is rather quiet on this topic - maybe because everyone is trying to implement sales tax increases at this time and do not want negative press on mismanagement of tax dollars.

While we are at it they should figure out who is paying for the ninja warrior who appear at UC Berkley political events. Who pays for those people? Who pays for the police forces that do nothing? Does the UC System have a secret police force in that hoard of money they are keeping secret? Possible since the head of UC used to be he head of Homeland Security. Now that is a match of skill sets.

Question for the PA city management are they advised of upcoming changes in tax law prior to announcement in the papers? We seem to be talking a lot about adding taxes right now - hurry up.


10 people like this
Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:22 am

I'll bet the city wants indoor grows because the power usage enhances the city's coffers! If the city council values their jobs, they should heed the voters' wishes and get on with it.


26 people like this
Posted by rational Helen
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:24 am

Does anyone think about how odd it is that anyone can buy a Gun... but we're still debating whether to sell a weed legally? What is the matter with our government? Who profits by its prohibition? Which Lobbyists?
Good Luck to us all!


9 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:24 am

Thanks, the article tells it like it is ... complacent Americans, Californians and Palo
Altans need to let this sink in.

We better believe it when we complain the different levels of government are
unresponsive to the public and someone always chimes in - our country isn't
a democracy.

They say if voting actually changed anything it would be illegal.


15 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:30 am

Bob from Barron Park
< PA is a lot more conservative than people pretend.
... read the posting ...

< Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, received support from two-thirds (66 percent) of Palo Alto voters, the second largest margin among Santa Clara County cities (Mountain View was first with 68 percent) and well above the 56 percent statewide vote approving the measure.

That was the second paragraph.

The City Council and some supporting controlling elite think they know better. That's what Conservatism turns out to be about usually.


18 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:32 am

Clearly the City Council considers alcohol a preferable alternative to cannabis. Alcohol kills, marijuana doesn't. So tired of small rigid minds running government.

Pity they don't smoke it. We might have a city worth living in, with much less obsession for revenue generating buildings and a greater emphasis on quality of life.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:37 am

The other consideration that the city attorney neglected to address last year is the well established additional fire risk associated with forcing residents to do their growing indoors. Was the fire chief consulted on that issue last week?


18 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:49 am

So much for private property rights.

Carrots and cannabis are equally legal. But Palo Alto has decided it will only let you grow one.

Under state law, outdoor cannabis can't be visible to neighbors. So the city will enforce it by -- How? Walking into locked back yards? Flying over by airplane?


3 people like this
Posted by Cory Wolbach
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm

As chair of the Policy and Services Committee and someone opposed to the so-called drug war, I offer a couple of comments. As we discussed at the Policy and Services Committee meeting, we recommended extending the status quo for a simple reason: the State Legislature is working on legislation which will change the context in which we make decisions. We don't know what those changes will be. As when we passed the ordinance in 2016 to maintain the status quo until we found out what happened with the ballot measure, we have now recommended extending it to see what comes out of the Legislature. We will hopefully be able to revisit the topic early in the new year. As with last year, I recommended a short sunset to force us to revisit the topic soon -- once we know what is happening with state law, and have a clearer sense of our options. In the meantime, growing for personal use indoors or outdoors in a greenhouse are both allowed. Thank you to the Weekly for keeping an eye on this topic.


7 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:34 pm

The city just does not want pot anywhere, however, prop 64 anticipated this and said that cities could not ban personal growing of 6 plants. It required that the pot could not be visible from "Public Property". So Palo Alto decided to get around this by requiring it be grown inside. Just make it as difficult as possible and maybe it will go away.


19 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:58 pm

Corey, voters made our intentions clear yet the city was in an unusual rush to infringe on our personal freedoms and to leave millions of dollars of sales tax revenue on the table. WHY the rush?

People have been consuming marijuana here for a long time and will continue to do so. Playing nanny to consenting adults is ludicrous over-reach and antithetical to SV culture and its counter-cultural roots and formerly great music scene that's all being lost in the current big business hyper-development climate.

The next time the City pleads poverty for some pet projects remember the city is leaving many millions of dollars in sales tax revenue on the table at time when it's cutting school positions.

If you want to think of the children, think of that!

And have a really special Summer of Love and thank you, PA Weekly!


4 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 23, 2017 at 12:59 pm

I always wondered why some neighbors have lights on outside all of the time or their garage lights on all of the time. I do not want the odor of said crop coming over to my property. That will not work out well.
Back to the Board of Equalization that is being dismantled and reformed in some other manner that is specific to the sale of pot and the city legal department needs to be on top of what ever comes out of that debacle.
As to War on Drugs the history channel just did a great job on that topic - name, rank and serial number. Don't discount how important that is - we don't want to end being a narco state. Our SOCAL politico's are dealing with that.


14 people like this
Posted by Fairmeadow Neighbor
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:03 pm

Could the sturggle for legalization get more ponderous? After all these years we finally reach this goal and the city of PA has to still tighten the noose. Residents' response is that we dont like those kind of people in our community, well Resident - maybe we dont want your kind, or civil liberty restrictions in our community


6 people like this
Posted by Second hand smoke
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:22 pm

I don't smoke, and I don't want to get ill from second-hand smoke. We have villified cigarettes and have all jinds of rules and restructions and laws. Maybe next we'll have to preserve our rights to not be inflicted with pot smoke. I may have to get active on this.
As to the growing, I don't care as long as it doesn't lead to unsafe things like burning my adjacent house down (poor wiring, lights over-heating) or minors being exposed. There are safety considerations.
Here's a scenario: family with kids rents a home in Palo Alto, and the homeowner landlord has his/her potbplants growing out back. Do I have rights as tenant to object to this, seeing as I have minor kids and (if I have any I.Q. at all, I don't want my kids around the pot)? It isn't all about sales tax revenue. How about the large amount of water I understand pot plants require? I ge vilified for maintaining decent garden foliage, which helps create an attractive residential cuty, helps air quakity, raises property values here. We went through tight water restrictions (well, at least those of us who weren't de-watering in order to install basements, but that's another story).
Will be interesting to see what happens to property values in various cities and regions in this state. I suggest keeping track of what peer suburban cities decide to do.


23 people like this
Posted by There's More
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 23, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Marijuana is not ALWAYS smoked. The cannabis oil is invaluable for nausea control and pain relief-- and it does not get anyone high.

A tea can be made from the leaves that quickly relieves the paroxysms of asthma-- that does not get anyone high, either.

Medicinal marijuana is extremely helpful for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Multiple Sclerosis!


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 23, 2017 at 3:45 pm

If you are comparing this to the sale of alcohol realize that the alcohol industry is big money within an established set of rules and regulations. A lot of time has been spent to establish the requirements to sell alcohol - you see signs posted for that. Everyone in the alcohol industry is established within the existing laws. So now you need the same level of existing laws for the pot industry. And some of you can't deal with that. The state is in charge and will dictate how this rolls out. Some of you are blasting the city when in reality the city's hands are tied right now. Some of you sound so desperate. And it is not Corey's job to do this - it is the city manager's and the legal department for the city and county. Corey is not superman.


6 people like this
Posted by Second hand smoke
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 23, 2017 at 3:46 pm

@ There's More,
Your point is well taken.


15 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Marie is a registered user.

It is not Palo Alto citizens who oppose pot in the backyard - rather it is the Palo Alto council and the 1% who have donated so much money to their campaigns, abetted by the city administration, for whom Palo Alto residents are only sources of funds for their high salaries and benefits.

I don't believe pot being grown has any particular odor when grown (although I do not know for sure). Smoking pot should be just as regulated as smoking cigarettes and vaping as it is noxious, a carcinogen and affects adjacent neighbors etc. In today's world, there is no need to smoke it, now that there are so many edibles available.


6 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 23, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Marie - please do not take it upon yourself to speak for the rest of the residents. This was put to a vote and it was not a grand slam win. There is a lot of people who do not want to see pot grown in neighborhoods. From where I am sitting it is going to totally ruin the neighborhoods when the pot growers take over. All of a sudden you will look at your neighbors in a different way. I do not think the people who are for this have small children at home or worse teenagers. All of a sudden the back yard will take on a different social temperament. It will change which kids can visit at any house and what any child will expect when they visit.

We have people on the PACC who have children at home or grandkids that visit. We have other people who are unmarried and have no attachments at home and are in a different social scene. That part is okay up until one group wants to impose their social scene on the rest of the city. The unmarried will make a decision now that affects everyone, then marry and have a child then all of a sudden things will change. A new baby at home will change the whole scene. The city has to be very careful on the direction the city is going - and the age and wisdom of the people on the board.


10 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 7:07 pm

Great editorial! I can't understand why local communities such as Palo Alto would try to prohibit outdoor weed cultivation when it's legal in the state. I thought Palo Alto supported solar energy!


12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 23, 2017 at 8:24 pm

"Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, received support from two-thirds (66 percent) of Palo Alto voters, the second largest margin among Santa Clara County cities (Mountain View was first with 68 percent) and well above the 56 percent statewide vote approving the measure.

Any candidate receiving 66 percent of the vote would be considered to have won by a landslide."

The marijuana legalization won by a landslide. The voters have spoken. Your children and grandchildren are your own responsibility as our personal habits and backyards are ours. We're not out to "corrupt" the youth of PA or to force our thinking on others so just leave us alone.

Growing 6 pot plants in the privacy of our backyards is legal as is consumption by consenting adults. If you want us to "think of the children," trust me that we are thinking about all the sales tax revenues going down the drain that could have been used for "the children" and all PA citizens.

It would be great if the consenting adults, seniors included, had a nice local place to go to consume marijuana, listen to music, have coffee and edibles and play scrabble like they have elsewhere. There are already pretty posh gourmet marijuana dinners and marijuana themed weddings, etc.

Don't assume that everyone who's "old" is as puritanical and authoritarian as you.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 24, 2017 at 12:01 am

...Just make it as difficult as possible and maybe it will go away...
one can always hope it is so.


5 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 24, 2017 at 10:57 am

See - there you are again talking about all of the sales tax you are going to generate. The great windfall - possibly one of the excuses used in the campaign rhetoric. However you are not going to benefit from the sales tax and the city is not going to benefit. Sales Tax goes to the Board of Equalization that is being dissolved by Gov. Jerry because the people who work there keep using the money for their own purposes. The SFC provides names and examples. Another government agency that is broken and uses tax generated dollars for personal use. Just like the ABAG government person who bought personal homes and now the money has to be refunded by other tax generated organizations. Just like the UC system which is being investigated for the hidden slush fund which in part pays for big dinners for the Board of Regents - another mystery group who is now being investigated. You can't pick up a paper without running into investigations all over the place of government organizations which are being investigated for corruption.
If anyone now uses tax benefit as a reason to pass any proposition then they will be in big trouble.


Like this comment
Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 24, 2017 at 11:16 am

[Post removed due to inaccurate information.]


8 people like this
Posted by Frederick
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 25, 2017 at 4:28 am

Outdoor? How about pot stores! Nope. Cant have those. Instead, community members must drive a most dangerous freeway stretch to get the stuff..all legally...freeway risk versus easy legal accessibility of stress relieving medicine. Stupid parents. Oh you're going out for a drink or two later after work? See you. Such inconsistency.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 25, 2017 at 8:53 am

The SJM has a lengthy article "Palo Alto Pot ban likely to continue another year" in the Sunday 06/25/17 paper. There are many factors that are included in Prop 64 that have to be addressed and resolved. It is more than the 6 plants that are required to be in a "greenhouse if locked and enclosed". Most legal concerns fly right by the people who want something, want it now, and feel entitled to have it. Start with the legal facts. Refer to the article if you do not understand all of the elements included in the proposition.


4 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:58 am

I don't understand what the city council is trying to protect us against? This seems like overreach. It would be good if they would explain why they want to do this.

It's also pointless, I doubt the city is going to start going into people back yards looking for pot plants.


8 people like this
Posted by Con Job
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2017 at 10:26 am

I love the way Conservative insult and demean others calling the government
daddy or the nanny state, but when it comes to things like abortion or personal
pot cultivation those BS phrases are miles away. Conservative = Hypocrisy


Like this comment
Posted by 1984
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2017 at 11:03 am

> I doubt the city is going to start going into people back yards looking for pot plants.

Your second story neighbors know growing pot is a federal offense. There's an FBI office in San Jose obligated to take reports. Nothing drops property values as fast as drug operations next door. With literally billions at stake, expect some blowback.


6 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2017 at 11:06 am

>&gy; It's also pointless, I doubt the city is going to start going into people back yards looking for pot plants.

Maybe ... maybe not. It could be they just want some other way to leverage people they do not like or have a problem with.

Example, police come to your door with a complaint from a neighbor, and you do not cooperate to their satisfaction, so they look around and see pot plants and write you up for that. I've heard police often do this with traffic stops if they do not like the driver for whatever reason.

I can't think why anyone would plant pot in their front yard or obvious from a public area, unless they have no choice. For example, someone has an apartment and wants to grow in a planter on their porch because they have no other choice.

Still, it would be their business. We don't force people to put their Ferraris in a garage because someone might steal them.

Too much over-reach by the city. I vote no .... except we don't get a vote do we? How democratic of our shining city.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 25, 2017 at 12:31 pm

[Post removed.]


8 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Don't worry. Having this ordinance makes somebody at 250 Hamilton feel good. That is as far as it goes. Like its ban on leaf blowers, city hall will never enforce a cannabis prohibition.


12 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 26, 2017 at 7:32 am

Wow, are we living in the 1950s? Come on City Hall, wake up. People want pot and Palo Alto is missing out on easy revenue. Ridiculous.


8 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 26, 2017 at 11:31 am

This is a common reaction that Palo Altans have.

We want the benefits of something without the apparent downsides.

1. We want low-income housing as long as it is in another city.
2. We want to have airplanes to ride as long as they don't fly over our city.
3. We want to be able to use marijuana but we don't want it grown in our city.

The idea of growing marijuana inside is particularly galling. Such cultivation uses a lot of electricity for the lights while there is natural sunlight only a few feet away. Ecologically very unsound.


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2017 at 1:32 pm

> We want the benefits of something without the apparent downsides.

RS .... don't you think that is a little over-simplified ?

Like all things we all seek the most freedom. We naturally seek the most
benefit and minimal downside in everything we do ... you make what is the
driver of all progress sound like a fault. Why?

--

We look back in history to find out how hypocritical our country has been, criminalizing drugs to be able to criminalize the people who use them or who are relegated to deal with them because of lack of other opportunities. Many of our laws have had no real basis, no legitimacy, and many think the anti-marijuana and other drugs laws have mostly been in that category, and there is a lot of proof to back that viewpoint up.

Criminalized so that the franchise can be handed over and profited from by approved members of the society or economy. Remember prohibition?

Perhaps smoking, eating, drinking or growing marijuana is not the noblest of pursuits, but seeking to remove the hypocrisy, oppression and corruption from laws is pretty noble.

Marijuana and other drugs that people used and cultivated without destroying their lives or the country before they were criminalized should never have been criminalized, or at least should have been a local choice, as with alcohol in a democracy/representative democracy, especially one that refers to itself as the home of the free.

How much of our economy is based on managing the "means of production" based solely on the fact that money can be made from it, and multiples of money can be made from it when it is illegal, with a wink-wink and plenty of payoffs? It should be the right of a free people to know what is going on, and not be managed and threatened with punishment like children, and to get at the data of what laws we really need and what laws are merely hidden power and wealth creators for some sector of the economy that gets away from us and causes problems, like gangs and cartels.


8 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 26, 2017 at 2:22 pm

"... criminalizing drugs to be able to criminalize the people who use them..."

Some historians believe that a major impetus behind the original criminalization of marijuana was its use by Mexicans in the Border regions. That animus survives today as the anti "illegal" immigrant campaign.


8 people like this
Posted by Been Here Forever
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2017 at 6:03 pm

I think this is one of those things we should just let slide. Here's why:
-- Someone on your block uses marijuana, and has done so for as long as you've been neighbors. You have no way of knowing who it is. Even more people on your block get drunk every night, and you also don't know who they are. If you try to guess who these people are based on stereotypes, you'll get it wrong, guaranteed.
-- Marijuana has been grown in Palo Alto backyards for personal use for at least 50 years. Once again, you don't know and can't guess who these self-reliant people are.
-- Everyone has private behaviors. Either shame, or fear being ostracized, or neighborliness causes people to be discreet. This is why you don't know who most of the drunks and potheads in your life are. And that's why nobody knows the peculiarities of your sex life.
-- If you're otherwise a good neighbor, if you're neat and considerate and mostly "normal", you can do whatever you want inside your moat, and no one cares. Draw attention to yourself, though, and people start looking over your fence, peeking in your garbage bins, and not inviting you to the block party. That's life in every town. "Normal" is the key concept, and what's normal today may well be out-of-bounds sooner than you think.
-- If you're worried about your kids turning out like your neighbor, don't. Your kids are going to turn out mostly like you. Be who you want your kids to be.


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