CONCORD -- The Planning Commission on Wednesday will discuss a potential citywide ban on the cultivation of outdoor medical marijuana.
City Attorney Mark Coon is asking the commission recommend the ban to the City Council, which has the final say. The ban requires an amendment to the city's development code.
The council voted in 2005 to ban medical marijuana dispensaries but remained silent on other types of cultivation until neighbors began complaining publicly in October about an outdoor grow operation in the Dana Estates neighborhood. Neighbors found the "skunk like" smell of plants offensive and worried the outdoor placement of the pot would attract thieves to their residential neighborhood.
The complaints prompted a December council hearing, during which a majority of council members appeared to favor a ban, and directed Coon to draft a resolution.
With the passage of Proposition 215 in 1996, state voters decriminalized the cultivation and consumption of medical marijuana by qualified patients and caregivers. A slew of cities -- some 180 statewide, including Concord -- have since banned medical marijuana dispensaries, and another 50 have bans on outdoor cultivation.
In his report to the commission, Coon said that "no court has held the state legislation guarantees the right to cultivate marijuana outdoors." Coon, at the direction of the City Council, has drafted a resolution similar to a ban adopted by the town of
One of the main targets of the ban, Chris Olsen, said on Monday he is prepared to legally challenge the resolution if the council approves it. Olsen operates the backyard grow operation that has drawn complaints from neighbors. Police have said he is qualified to do so under state law.
"I'm willing to fight this at the highest level because at this point, it's ridiculous," Olsen, who feels he has been harassed by police. "I just hope they are ready."
The Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 1950 Parkside Drive.
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.