Whether preexisting local ordinances applicable to medical marijuana cultivation apply to the now legal recreational cultivation of marijuana is a question yet to be answered. Prop 64 explicitly allows a person to grow indoors or outdoors in a locked space not visible to the public without the need for aided vision (like binoculars). However, the new law allowing recreational marijuana to be grown in California explicitly grants cities and counties the individual discretion to further restrict cannabis cultivation.
NOTWITHSTANDING PARAGRAPH (3) OF SUBDIVISION (A) OF SECTION 11362.1, A CITY, COUNTY, OR CITY AND COUNTY MAY COMPLETELY PROHIBIT PERSONS FROM ENGAGING IN ACTIONS AND CONDUCT UNDER PARAGRAPH (3) OF SUBDIVISION (A) OF SECTION 11362.1 OUTDOORS UPON THE GROUNDS OF A PRIVATE RESIDENCE. (EMPHASIS ADDED)
It’s clear from the above California Health & Safety Code that Butte County and Chico are allowed to completely prohibit outdoor cultivation of recreational marijuana. Butte county already has on the books regulations for medical marijuana, including limitations on grow size and location of the grow. For example, a property that is half an acre or smaller is permitted to have only a single grow space no larger than 50 square feet and must be located inside a “detached structure” no larger than 120 square feet. Butte County Medical Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance 34A-4(b)(1). That’s slightly larger than a 7 X 7 foot area. But the ordinance further restricts grow space by adding that the perimeter of the grow is measured not by where the stalks of the plants are, but the outer edge of the “canopy.”
A reading of the introductory sections of this Butte County regulation indicates that this is an ordinance primarily targeting the “nuisance” qualities of marijuana and the possibility of crime associated with the evil plant (grown by not only ancient civilizations, but the very men and women who founded this country). Based on the underlying policy furthered by the ordinances, one may err on the side of caution and assume the medical marijuana nuisance laws will now be made applicable to recreational marijuana cultivation. The evils stated in the preexisting Butte Medical Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance, 34A-2(g), “[t]he risks of criminal activity, degradation of the natural environment, malodorous smells, and indoor electrical fire hazards that may result from unregulated marijuana cultivation. . .” will likely be used as a continuing justification for strong regulation of marijuana cultivation either through application of these preexisting ordinances to recreational grows, or by new regulation wholly prohibiting outdoor grows.
One thing is certain, though recreational marijuana cultivation has been made “legal” in California, actually legally participating for many people will be difficult or impossible. Cities and counties that frown upon marijuana use and cultivation will likely ban outdoor grows all together with the support of anti-weed citizens. Those who want to grow marijuana will then have to resort to indoor growing which is much more labor intensive and cost-inefficient. The Sun, soil, and rain are all free. The Earth provides most of the resources needed to grow plants with the exception of water in dryer climates. Indoor grows usually require HID lighting, ventilation including fans, air temperature control, and living space dedicated only to growing. These things cost money, and a lot of it. People are not allowed to offset their costs with selling it unless licensed, and therefore, for many people, despite the right to grow, they will effectively be prohibited from doing so.
*Laws change rapidly, please do not rely on statements in this article regarding the law. What is an accurate statement today may not be tomorrow. Contact a lawyer if you have questions regarding current legal issues.