Court ruling on medical marijuana supports Live Oak
A state court's medical marijuana ruling supports the authority of cities to use zoning to regulate marijuana grows, the attorney for Live Oak said.
"It affirms for cities in general the long-standing power to regulate and zone land uses," Brant Bordsen said of the Sacramento-based 3rd Appellate District court decision.
Medical marijuana users had challenged Tehama County's regulations on growing the plant and the state court ruling released Wednesday upholds the Superior Court's decision to dismiss the legal challenge.
The court said Proposition 215, passed by California voters in 1996, does not grant a blanket right to use marijuana for medical purposes.
Russ Brown, spokesman for Yuba County, said officials welcome the state court ruling.
"We're very happy with this," he said. "This decision supports what we've been doing here."
Tehama County's medical marijuana cultivation measure is much like Yuba's, Brown said. Tehama has limits of 12 to 99 mature plants per parcel, the state court said.
J. David Nick, an attorney for the challengers to the Tehama County measure, called the state ruling a mixed bag and said the decision cautions against a total ban on cultivation.
"Regulation is different than prohibition," Nick said Thursday.
Live Oak, which has banned medical marijuana grows, awaits, as do other cities in the state, a California Supreme Court ruling about marijuana dispensaries. The high court has to rule on the case, which was heard this week, within 90 days of the oral arguments heard Tuesday.
The Supreme Court decision about cities regulating dispensaries is expected to apply to regulations on marijuana cultivation, said Arthur Wylene, county counsel for Tehama County.
He said the separate state appellate court ruling Wednesday is the first such appeals court case dealing with cultivation. The decision upholds the local power to regulation medical marijuana grows, Wylene said.
Tehama County's measure cites risks "of criminal activity, degradation of the natural environment, malodorous smells and indoor electrical fire hazards," the state court noted.
Live Oak adopted its ban in December 2011 after complaints from 49 residents.
Grow sites, with tents occupied by people to protect marijuana, were found across from Live Oak High School and near Little League fields, the municipality said. Growers were cal ing the city to ask about putting up higher fences and using barbed wire to protect their property, according to Live Oak.
Attorney Bordsen said of marijuana grows that, "I am told the smell can be very difficult if you live next to a patch."