Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 11:35 am | Partly Cloudy 63º


Local News

Lompoc Council Snuffs Out Strict Proposal to Regulate Marijuana

After hearing from marijuana advocates, the Lompoc City Council this week stalled on adopting strict rules and instead appointed a committee to craft an ordinance with what one member called common sense.

The council unanimously voted to appoint two members — Victor Vega and Jenelle Osborne — to an ad-hoc committee to work with city staff and others.

“I’d like to propose that we form an ad-hoc committee with another council person here that might want to participate — I’d like to be one of them — and see if we can come up with a more sensible ordinance that’ll be good for everything,” Vega said. 

“We need to do our research. We need to think outside the box,” Osborne said. “We need to look at this as a 21st century solution instead of a 20th century problem. We understand that prohibition doesn’t work and we shouldn’t repeat it.”

The proposed regulations came in the wake of the statewide passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which legalizes and regulates the cultivation, processing, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of nonmedical marijuana.

Since Nov. 9,  adults 21 and older in California are allowed to possess marijuana and grow certain amounts at home for personal non-medical use.

Before voting, council members heard from a steady stream of speakers who criticized by proposed ordinance presented by staff and pleaded for fewer restrictions.

Councilman Dirk Starbuck agreed that the city’s proposed rules appeared to be “over the top.”

“You people that passed this ordinance don’t deserve to have the fire and police come to your house for six plants. You don’t need our building officials.  I just am going to vote no on it,” he said of the proposed law.

He suggested the ad-hoc committed needed to review previously adopted rules regarding medical marijuana, including outlawing dispensaries and deliveries.

“Am I pro marijuana? No. Am I against marijuana? No,” Starbuck said. “But I’m for what’s right here.”

Vega said the rules should protect neighbors and ensure marijuana activity doesn’t harm property values. 

A complex and costly permitting process would discourage someone from following the rules, especially if the fine would cost less, Councilman Jim Mosby said.

“It just seems like a lot of overreaching, and it doesn’t glide with the spirit of what Prop. 64 was,” Mosby. 

A proposed ban on growing marijuana outdoors also raised questions, with Mosby doubting staff claims the plants would be prime for thieves. 

“I’ve got a barbecue, it’s a few thousand bucks in my backyard. Nobody’s climbing my back fence to steal that,” Mosby added.

As marijuana bans are eased, the supply and demand will lead to lower prices and reduced risk of being attractive to criminals, Mosby said. 

During the staff presentation on the proposed rules, the city's police and fire chiefs cited several safety and other concerns, including criminal activity, odors, fires and chemicals. 

The rejected regulation would require obtaining building, electrical and plumbing permits if alterations were required for a marijuana grow.

Fire and police permits also were called for and would limit the grow area to 32 square-feet in a single-family residence, with up to six plants allowed no matter how many residents live there. 

Lompoc resident and attorney Robert Traylor said the proposed law would require 17 steps to obtain permits, creating a regulatory burden that would make it subject to legal challenge.

“Lompoc doesn’t have money to burn on needless litigation, particularly in the face of overwhelming support of Prop. 64,” Traylor said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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