Editor’s note: In recent months, Calaveras County elected and appointed officials have reported that they are being lobbied heavily by people with an interest in a not-yet-released proposal to set zoning standards for medical marijuana gardens in the county. At The Calaveras Enterprise, we have also received a number of phone calls, both from people who said they wish to buy property in Calaveras County to grow medical marijuana and from residents who don’t want to have medical marijuana gardens near their homes.
Although the county already has a medical marijuana ordinance, it primarily sets standards for retail outlets. The draft ordinance now being developed will be the first time that the county has established zoning standards for medical marijuana gardens.
Officials have not given any indication whether medical marijuana will be treated as agricultural production, similar to wine grapes, or whether it may be treated more like an industrial use, or in some other way. Currently, many residential zones allow some level of agricultural activity, including home gardens and animals kept as 4-H projects. It seems unlikely, however, that medical marijuana will be seen by public officials as similar to a 4-H project. Yet there are many Calaveras County residents who grow medical pot for their own use. And many of those who don’t want medical marijuana growing nearby say they take that stance because they don’t want it near their children. So it is conceivable that medical pot could even be banned from the rural residential zones where it is now often grown.
Given the apparent high level of interest in the pending zoning proposal and the fact that most of the lobbying so far has happened outside of public view, the paper today is running a letter that medical marijuana patient advocate Tom Liberty of Collective Patient Resources sent last week to Calaveras County Board of Supervisors Clerk Diane Severud. His letter follows:
Please pass on the following information to the board members. Feel free to share it with anyone else who might need it.
As you know, the board is in the process of developing new cannabis policy for Calaveras County. It has come to our attention that they have been told that both Amador and Tuolumne counties have shut down collective cultivation.
This is absolutely untrue.
While it is true that collective cultivation bans were proposed in both counties, Collective Patient Resources was able to successfully persuade the governments of both counties to continue to allow collective growing.
Amador County did adopt a more restrictive policy, but
one that still allows for collective growing. Interestingly,
the Amador County Sheriff’s Department specifically re-quested to not be put in charge of enforcement. (The BOS put them in charge of it against their wishes.)
Tuolumne County decided to not amend its policy at all and continue to allow collective growing until after state legalization. They felt that it would be a waste of the board’s time to write a policy that would have to be rewritten a year or two later.
Any information that our officials are receiving that even suggests that Amador and/or Tuolumne had shut down collective growing is absolutely untrue.
As an aside, I would also mention that we understand the temptation to look to ordinances in other counties in order to save time in writing our own. However, Calaveras is in a very unique position, and our cannabis policy should reflect that. If officials are tempted to look at what is transpiring in other counties, we would encourage them to look at the amount of money they are spending on enforcement and litigation.
Thank you for taking the time to address this important issue,
Collective Patient Resources