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Cities create strict rules for residents who want to grow marijuana at home

Yes, every Californian 21 or older now has a right to grow up to six marijuana plants per household for personal use. But did you know that local officials get to weigh in on where and how residents grow those plants?

Proposition 64 says cities or counties can “reasonably regulate” homegrown pot.

Many have already banned outdoor cannabis gardens, as Prop. 64 clearly states they can. But an increasing number of cities are instituting rules for in-home cultivation that test the limits of what’s considered “reasonable,” with a legal battle over how far cities can go now playing out in one Southern California city.

I did a deep dive earlier this year on cities pushing back against Prop. 64, looking at policies from Indian Wells to Elk Grove that put temporary bans on all home marijuana gardens or required permits that cost as much as $411.

I chatted about the topic with hosts of KABC 790 radio in Los Angeles. Listen to the full interview below, starting at the 8:15 mark.

Given the vague language in Prop. 64 about where the line between “reasonable” and “onerous” regulations is drawn, experts predicted back in February that the issue would have to be settled in courts in the months and years to come.

Sure enough, the ACLU of California and the Drug Policy Alliance filed a lawsuit in June against the Inland Empire city of Fontana, claiming that the city’s marijuana ordinance conflicts with rights granted to all Californians under Proposition 64.

The suit may be the first legal test of how far California cities can go in restricting residents’ newfound freedom to grow cannabis at home.

Whittier took note of that lawsuit. While the Los Angeles County city will likely ban outdoor home cannabis gardens, the city attorney just recommended against instituting a permit program. She cited the lawsuit against Fontana, also noting that police would still need probable cause to enter a home to determine if a resident was growing more than six plants.

But since cities can essentially keep interpreting Prop. 64 as they wish until a judge tells them otherwise, other cities are still pursuing permit programs for home-grows.

Pomona city leaders are moving forward with the idea, for example, though a price for the permit hasn’t yet been set.

While we wait for the courts to come down with a ruling, we had an attorney weigh in on this question from a Cannifornian reader: Can cities legally block residents from growing up to six plants at home — even temporarily? I thought that right was guaranteed by Prop. 64?

Here’s what attorney Christina C.K. Semmer had to say.

Since many cities have outlawed outdoor gardens — and some have gone further by implementing permit programs, rules on lighting and other requirements — it’s best to check with your local city before investing in an at-home grow setup.


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