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Marijuana Dispensaries Banned.

By admin | November 17, 2004

By Scotty Williams,
The Gridley Herald
Nov 17, 2004.

Gridley became the first city in Butte County to adopt an ordinance prohibiting growing and distributing medical marijuana, Monday night.

The Gridley City Council voted unanimously to ban medical marijuana dispensaries at the governing board’s regular meeting.

Gridley-Biggs Police Chief Jack Storne brought the issue before the council on November 1 because three individuals recently approached the city about establishing a marijuana grow and distribution site at a residence located within the city limits.

Storne told the council dispensaries in the Bay Area have increased criminal activity in those neighborhoods.

In 1996 California voters approved the first statewide medical marijuana initiative in the United States (Proposition 215).

Despite voter approval of Proposition 215 the courts have yet to decide the legality of the initiative and how it is to be regulated.

There is no state regulation or standard of the cultivation and/or distribution of medical marijuana. California leaves the establishment of any guidelines to local jurisdictions, which can vary widely.

Marin County allows up to six mature plants and/or a half-pound of dried marijuana. Neighboring Sonoma County permits possession of three pounds of marijuana and the cultivation of up to 99 plants.

The medical marijuana law also allows individual cities within the state to ban cultivation and distribution.

Storne said the City of Rocklin has established an ordinance prohibiting the growing and distribution of medical marijuana.

Storne said he was advised by the Butte County District Attorney’s Office not to adopt an ordinance in Gridley because, under federal law, the growing and distributing of marijuana is still illegal.

“It was pointed out that regardless of what the state had done under federal law it is still against the law to have any kind of possession of marijuana or any dispensaries,” said Storne.

Storne said federal law is in conflict with a ruling by the United Stated Courts for the Ninth Circuit.

“They said as long as it’s not interstate then the federal government should stay out of it and California can kind of pursue it’s own way of going. The attorney general felt it was inappropriate and submitted the matter to the Supreme Court for an opinion,” said Storne.

Storne said a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court was expected this past summer, but the matter has yet to be heard.

Storne said he has been in contact with law enforcement legal council over the issue.

“They still recommended strongly that local jurisdictions that wanted to regulate this should go ahead and initiate their ordinances, with the understanding that we come out up front and say at this point we realize and recognize this an unlawful activity, but that if it were to become a lawful activity on a state-by-state basis, that our ordinance would then take affect,” said Storne.

At the November 1 meeting the council directed Storne to return with a proposed ordinance to ban the growing or distributing of medical marijuana in the city, should the Supreme Court rule such activity is legal within the state of California.

The ordinance adopted by the council Monday clearly states that marijuana dispensaries are currently illegal and that it will go into effect should such dispensaries become legal under state and federal law.

In other business:

-The council approved an ordinance to define and regulate monument signs within the city’s zoning regulations.

Gridley Community Development Director Andrea Redamonti said the issue of monument signs arose during one of the special study sessions held by the Gridley Planning Commission, to discuss changed to the municipal code to be consistent with the recommendations of the Highway 99 Streetscape Plan.

The council approved modifying the code to eliminate pole signs earlier this year, which was one of the recommendations of the streetscape plan, to improve the look of the city along Highway 99.

“Since pole signs have been eliminated, we’ve seen more and more monument signs within the city,” said Redamonti.

On October 18 the commission voted unanimously to recommend that Gridley Municipal Code be amended to include a definition of a monument sign, limiting the high to eight feet.

Currently monument signs are allowed that do not exceed 100 square feet, but there are no height limitations.

The suggested definition of a monument sign reads as follows, “A low profile freestanding sign that may be externally illuminated, erected with its base on the ground, and designed to incorporate design and building materials which complement the architectural theme(s) on the site. A monument sign shall not exceed eight feet in height from ground level, including the base. The base of a monument sign shall not be counted as sign area.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the definition and regulation of monument signs.

Redamonti stated that the pole and monument signs that are currently located within the city do not have to be removed as long as they are not moved or enlarged.

Gridley Developer Dan Boeger showed the council an out of town newspaper advertisement for U.S. Homes. U.S. Homes is constructing the units for the 292 unit subdivision being constructed on 76 acres north of Gridley.

“I just wanted to let you know that starting this Saturday they are going to have a sales office open in Gridley. It will be temporarily located for a couple of months at 891 Hazel,” said Boeger.

“Hopefully this will bring a lot more people to Gridley,” Boeger added.

Boeger said construction on curbs and gutters to tie into the storm water system of the project are scheduled to begin this week.

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