The Lodi City Council approved a temporary ban on qualified patients and caregivers growing medical marijuana outdoors, but will still allow indoor cultivation as long as it cannot be seen or smelled from the public right-of-way.
On Wednesday, the council in a 4-0 vote OK'd the temporary ban that gives city staff 45 days to come up with a permanent solution or ordinance regulating the grows. If it will take staff longer, the council can extend the ban up to a year.
The issue came up after the city received multiple complaints from residents who could smell or see plants throughout the city, City Attorney Steve Schwabauer said.
Lodi police know of numerous homes growing medical marijuana, and there have been burglaries, robberies, violent crimes and electrical utility thefts because of the cultivation, according to a staff report.
"There has been a concern to ensure that legal uses of medical marijuana do not result in sight, smell or criminal spill over," Schwabauer said.
At a previous shirtsleeve meeting, one woman spoke about her neighbors growing next door, and complained that there was barbed wire fencing and that the smell caused headaches, Magdich said.
Lodi resident Joshua Dougherty said he is the neighbor of the woman who complained. He installed the barbed wire to prevent potential thieves from jumping the fence, and he and his wife recently bought a greenhouse.
Dougherty uses the marijuana to deal with pain from more than 150 stomach staples, and he gets sick every day. It is important for him to cultivate because he believes in growing the marijuana organically.
"Being able to grow your own, I can control my fertilizers and pesticides, and I know that I'm not taking in any poisons," he said.
He wants to ensure that the council allows him to keep growing in his greenhouse in the permanent ordinance, because growing inside his home would increase his utility bill to at least $1,300 a month, Dougherty said.
"I set up a greenhouse and then I hear about this possible ban. Even making people grow in a greenhouse, it's expensive," he said.
Local resident Robin Rushing, who has frequently appeared at council meetings arguing in favor of medical marijuana, said medical marijuana is the only drug he has tried that works for his bladder cancer and helps him deal with dialysis.
He argued that God created marijuana to help people, and that if there is not a medical marijuana dispensary in Lodi, people need to be able to grow in their yards.
"This city council is getting in the way of God's plan for me," he said.
The council voted 4-0 to approve the interim ordinance, with Councilman Alan Nakanishi absent.
Councilman Larry Hansen asked city staff to look into how much it costs to grow marijuana plants, and the difference in expense for indoor and outdoor growing.
Councilman Bob Johnson requested the public write, call or email council members about their feelings on outdoor and indoor cultivation, so that the council can make an informed decision.
Mayor JoAnne Mounce said she has a relative who has been prescribed medical marijuana for five years, so she understands the importance of this issue.
She recommended that when Schwabauer works on a permanent ordinance, he meets with police, concerned neighbors and some of the actual medical marijuana patients to come up with a solution.
The moratorium will not affect patients who currently grow outdoors, Mounce said, because the harvest just happened, and they will not replant until next spring.
Recently, she went to a friend's house, and she said she could smell another neighbor's plants from across the street.
"As much as I believe in the rights of you to grow, we have to keep in mind the rights of the other people in your neighborhood," she said.
Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at email@example.com.