During a joint meeting Monday evening, the Fortuna City Council and Planning Commission met to hash out the city’s proposed rules governing cannabis in the Friendly City.
“Most communities, most cities in the state are wrapping up development of their ordinances now,” city manager Mark Wheetley said. “We’re trying to wrap all this up prior to the end of the year.”
Fortuna is on track with most other incorporated cities in Humboldt County that are working to get local laws on the books before the January 2018 deadline after which state laws would apply in jurisdictions without local marijuana regulations in effect. The Eureka City Council was set to discuss its version of local cannabis regulations at its own regular meeting on Tuesday. Unlike Fortuna, Eureka is likely to allow for commercial recreational cannabis activities in city zones. Because Eureka already allows commercial medical marijuana manufacturing in certain zones, commercial recreational marijuana manufacturing will be allowed in the same districts.
As it’s written now, Fortuna’s ordinance doesn’t allow any commercial cannabis business from operating in city limits, prohibits all medical cannabis deliveries that begin or end in city limits, doesn’t allow any activity that requires a state license under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act or the Adult Use of Marijuana, and requires permits and inspections for personal growing.
A good chunk of the discussion focused on the medical marijuana delivery prohibition. Council members and commissioners went back and forth on not wanting to keep medicine from patients unable to drive to the dispensary and not allowing people loop holes to work around the rules. Eventually, it was decided to expressly disallow commercial marijuana or cannabis deliveries only. This would allow people to legally give an ounce or less of personally grown marijuana to a friend.
Each parcel can be issued only one permit to allow for personal cultivation of six plants maximum inside an accessory structure only, not within primary residences. Structures used for cultivation must be in line with local laws as well as building and fire codes. The plants can’t be more than 10 feet tall and the growing space can’t have a footprint larger than 50 square feet. Passersby shouldn’t be able to tell cultivation is going on in private property from public thoroughfares as a result of light or noise pollution or smell.
Councilman Dean Glaser pushed for more stringent regulations on personal growing despite the fact that these rules could be legally challenged as unreasonable regulations.
“If the state comes after us, bring it on,” he said.
But commissioners and other council members thought different.
Special report: Cannabis and the environment.
“I think you’re asking a lot and you’re going to increase illegal grows,” planning commission chairman Joseph Kravitz said.
Councilwoman Tami Trent agreed.
“I don’t think we should make this more restrictive,” she said.
Personal cultivation permits can be applied for at the Fortuna Police Department. An item the council discussed at the last council meeting was a caveat that issuing personal grow permits are subject to a background check but that wording was struck out in the most recent draft. The Fortuna Police Department, Fortuna building department and Fortuna Fire District will inspect the proposed grow space and the structure will be subject to further FPD inspections when the permit is renewed annually.
A permit fee will be paid by the applicants to the city in an amount to be determined by the city council.
The discussion went beyond the Monday evening publishing deadline.
The Fortuna draft ordinance, city calendar and other city information is available at friendlyfortuna.com.
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