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Lodi City Council extends limits on medical marijuana

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 11:15 pm

Lodi’s ban on growing medical marijuana within city limits has been extended once more, leaving officials with another year to decide how they will manage pot cultivation in residential homes.

On Wednesday, the Lodi City Council approved a 12-month extension to a moratorium approved last year after a woman complained about the odor coming from her neighbor’s marijuana plants. Last year’s decision banned any outdoor cultivation of marijuana plants, as well as any indoor cultivation that created a public nuisance. If it can be smelled by neighbors or seen across the property line, it’s not permitted.

The first moratorium was set to expire on Wednesday. With the extension, the rules are now in place until Nov. 5, 2014. City laws prevent any further extensions of the ban.

This extension is intended to give city staff and officials with the Lodi Police Department time to study the legal and practical issues in growing medical marijuana.

The city needs another year to make a decision because there is no precedent here, said City Attorney Steve Schwabauer.

“There isn’t a very clear answer as to what’s going on in regulation,” he said. “There’s 15 or 20 lawsuits pending on how cities can handle it.”

The plan is to take a look at what other communities are doing and what’s being challenged, he said.

Several months ago, there were plans for a community meeting, but it was never scheduled. Instead, the police department is working on a survey to be sent to residents in the coming weeks.

A public hearing on the moratorium was quiet, said Councilman Larry Hansen, but his gut instinct says change is coming.

“I feel that California is headed toward some level of legalizing marijuana use. The handwriting is on the wall,” he said. “This is just speculation; I have no inside track. Ask me in six months.”

Contact Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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