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Sacramento region scrambles to regulate pot growers after passage of Prop. 64

Cities across the Sacramento region have been scrambling to regulate marijuana following passage this month of Proposition 64, which legalizes adult recreational use of pot in California.

West Sacramento on Wednesday imposed a temporary ban on outdoor cultivation and sales of recreational marijuana. Other cities acted just before or after the election, enacting similar measures that control marijuana sales and growth.

West Sacramento’s 45-day moratorium gives the city time to study practices elsewhere before approving permanent rules, officials said during Wednesday’s council meeting. Mayor Christopher Cabaldon said the council respects that voters in West Sacramento passed Proposition 64 by a wide margin.

“Obviously we need to get to a place where we’re advancing the interests of voters as they’ve expressed them,” he said, but added the city also must address concerns raised by residents worried about public safety impacts.

The Woodland City Council voted Tuesday to extend the city’s moratorium on outdoor cultivation until Oct. 1, 2017. Staff will meet with other leaders in Yolo County to begin crafting regulations. When the original moratorium was put in place, Councilman Sean Denny warned his colleagues about the impact marijuana growers could have on their city.

“I caution Woodland and the city that letting (marijuana growing) take over, that it damages our brand,” he said.

Dale Gieringer, California coordinator of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, said the organization is looking to hire someone to track local regulations springing up in response to Proposition 64. “Practically every jurisdiction is going to have to pass legislation this year on marijuana,” he said.

Lawsuits challenging city regulations inevitably will arise, Gieringer said. Cities have to allow transport of legal marijuana from point A to point B on city roads, but that doesn’t necessarily include delivery services, he said. They also have to allow people to grow up to six plants indoors for personal use.

Other than those two protections, Proposition 64 gives cities and counties leeway in regulating the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana. To help cities craft ordinances, the League of California Cities hosted a webinar in October to lay out options.

“Many cities are reviewing their ordinances to ensure they cover both medical marijuana, as well as recreational,” Cromartie said. “This includes everything from allowing and robustly regulating such businesses, to banning them outright.”

The Sacramento City Council is scheduled to discuss regulations on commercial marijuana cultivation and marijuana delivery at its Tuesday meeting.

Folsom’s City Council banned all commercial, nonmedical marijuana-related land uses in October. Like several cities in Sacramento County, Folsom has put restrictions on indoor cultivation, including limits on the size of a growing area, the amount of lighting allowed and the use of gas products to process marijuana into products such as honey oil.

Citrus Heights in September prohibited marijuana deliveries and nonmedical marijuana businesses. Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova and the county Board of Supervisors already have bans on growing pot outside for any reason.

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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