WHITTIER – When California voters last year passed Proposition 64 legalizing marijuana, they also allowed cities to make up their own minds about how much of the change they would accept.
In Whittier, that could soon mean bans on all marijuana sales and most forms of growing.
On Monday, the Whittier Planning Commission in a unanimous vote agreed on a proposed law to recommend to the City Council that would ban everything Proposition 64 permits to be banned, which includes sales and cultivation.
“The idea is to amend our code to ban all kinds of uses of marijuana to the extent we can,” Richard Adams, assistant city attorney, told the commission.
“You can still grow six plants indoors,” Adams said. “They city is not allowed to make that illegal. The ordinance before you makes it the most restrictive you can in the state.”
Proposition 64 allows cities to ban both outdoor growing and all dispensaries, and Adams said the city could do just that.
Commissioners said they don’t want to legalize the use of marijuana any more than they have to.
“My primary concern is the lack of regulation,” said Commissioner Eduardo Hernandez.
“The passage of this proposition doesn’t seem to come with regulations,” Hernandez said. “The prudent thing to do is to move forward with the ban until the state can regulate it and provide guidance for us.”
Marijuana supporters said Whittier stood to lose out on tax money with a full ban. But Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, in a Tuesday phone interview, said other California cities have also already imposed their own local regulations.
“They’re not the first, not the first place to do that,” Gieringer said. “(Whittier) will miss out on some tax revenues for sure.”
The City Council in April asked the commission to draw up a city law that could ban marijuana. The city already bans medical-marijuana dispensaries.
The council asked the commission to include language setting up permits for plants grown indoors, but only out of view of children.
Carrie Raven, an attorney for the city, tried to dissuade the council from instituting permits.
“We have found through our research that it might be unworkable to have a regulatory process for indoor cultivation,” Raven said. She noted police would still need probable cause to enter a home to determine if a resident was growing more than six plants.
The city of Fontana passed such an ordinance. It’s now being sued, she said.
The Montebello City Council in March also approved a law requiring permits and setting a $249 fee.
Whittier will likely take up discussion on the proposed new law at its Aug. 8 meeting.
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