Monday, April 14, 2014

Martinez To Ban Outdoor Medical Marijuana Growing This Week

By David Downs
Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 10:08 AM

Patients are mobilizing to stop the East Bay city of Martinez from banning outdoor cultivation of medical cannabis this Wednesday at a city council meeting that is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 525 Henrietta Street, Martinez.

The ban would shred California’s Prop 215, which voters passed in 1996. Prop 215's stated goal was “to ensure that seriously ill Californians have the right to obtain and use marijuana for medical purposes where that medical use is deemed appropriate”

State law finds that qualified patients can grow as many plants as is medically necessary, though state guidelines call for no more than six mature or 12 immature plants per patient.

But Martinez is planning to ban all outdoor growing, based on a California Supreme Court ruling from 2013, which found that cities can ban dispensaries. That ruling is now being applied to the cultivation of even a single pot plant in places like Fresno. Such cultivation bans are being challenged in court.

Marijuana eradication coming to Martinez backyards
  • courtesy of SFGate
  • Marijuana eradication coming to Martinez backyards

The City of Martinez claims that pot plants are a theft risk, some people don't like the smell, and kids could steal them.

These claims are discriminatory, patients say, unless Martinez also plans to ban things like motor vehicles (which are also an outdoor theft risk, smell bad, and kids do steal them; and they kill thousands of Californians per year).

Local patients there tell us Martinez’s ban would raise the cost of their pain medication from less than $5 per month to $450 per month and force them to drive an hour round-trip to Oakland or Berkeley to obtain it from a safe, licensed provider. Normal folks cannot grow plants indoors, they say.

Martinez also claims that the outdoor cultivation ban has no effect on the environment, and is exempt from a required study under the California Environmental Quality Act. That is also ludicrous, given that would lead to tens of thousands more annual vehicle trips to Oakland, increased traffic and emissions; more indoor cultivation with attendant fires, home-invasion thefts, mold, damage, and skyrocketing electricity use; and loss of housing stock to indoor cannabis gardens.

While the rest of the country is going forward on medical marijuana, places like Fresno and Riverside — and now Martinez — are going in reverse, not only banning dispensaries, but also outdoor and indoor medical cannabis cultivation. The Martinez ban would be the deepest such ignorant thinking has penetrated into the historically progressive epicenter of the Bay Area. It’s time to draw the line. Tell them to take this garbage back to Fresno.

Here is the Martinez City Council agenda.

Here is the item.

Here is one Facebook page seeking to rally patients in the area.

Dress nice Wednesday night, show up early, write down your public comments in a note and be polite during the hearing. You can also contact councilmembers and city staffers this week.

Here is the contact info for:

Rob Schroder - Mayor
Elected November 2002
Present Term Expires November 2014
Councilmember Nov. 1996 - Oct. 2002
925-372-3501
rschroder@cityofmartinez.org

Mark Ross - Councilmember
Elected November 1996
Present Term Expires November 2016
925-372-3544
mross@cityofmartinez.org
Lara DeLaney — Vice Mayor
Elected November 2002
Present Term Expires November 2014 925-372-3542
ldelaney@cityofmartinez.org

AnaMarie Avila Farias - Councilmember
Appointed December 2012
Elected November 2012
Present Term Expires November 2016
925-372-3543
amafarias@cityofmartinez.org

Michael Menesini — Councilmember
Elected November 2006
Present Term Expires November 2014
925-372-3541
mmenesini@cityofmartinez.org

Notably, Shroder and Menesini are up for re-election this year.

Qualified patients in Martinez deserve at least the bare minimum of access, which is the right to cultivate at home up to six plants.

Martinez residents can also hire a lawyer and sue the city. Here's some legal resources and assistance via Americans for Safe Access and California NORML.

Lastly, you can contact me with your stories of how this ban would place an unreasonable burden on you and others, by emailing me — your Legalization Nation columnist - at david.downs@gmail.com.

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