California Cities Pushing Limit of “Reasonable” Marijuana Restrictions


What is the limit of a California city’s right to “reasonably regulate” the personal home cultivation of cannabis plants? The Orange County Register reports on some cities in the Golden State that are stretching the definition of “reasonable” in order to severely curtail or de facto ban adults from growing their own marijuana.

California’s Prop 64 gave every adult the right to grow six cannabis plants on their own property. Cities could ban outdoor cultivation, but the law specifically says that “no city… may completely prohibit [cultivation] inside a private residence.

The question, then, becomes whether a regulation is reasonable or whether it acts to completely prohibit indoor cultivation.

Two cities in the Sacramento area, Galt and Elk Grove, have gone ahead and issued moratoria on all indoor growing through December. The city attorney from Elk Grove explains that “this moratorium only temporarily disallows that type of use while the issue is being studied.”

I don’t recall any time limits on “no city… may completely prohibit” within the law. Seems to me that banning indoor grows for all of 2017 is a complete prohibition. Would the city attorney accept a moratorium on one of his rights, say, the right to vote, if we told him it was only temporary while we studied the issue of voter fraud?

Other cities have decided that anybody who wants to grow cannabis in their own home should have to fork over money for a permit to do so. Indian Wells has set their permit fee at $141. Fontana wants you to come up with $411 to exercise your California home grow rights. Fillmore councilors initially suggested a $737 fee.

When elected officials from the freshly-defeated Confederate States of America were forced to accept 15th Amendment’s recognition of voting franchise for formerly-enslaved Americans, they, too, came up with fees for some people to pay to exercise their rights. Called “poll taxes”, these fees had to be paid before one could vote. They were found Constitutional by the Supreme Court and existed in some of our United States from 1866 through 1966, until the ratification of the 24th Amendment that banned poll taxes.

I don’t recall any income verification on “no city… may completely prohibit” within the law. Seems to me that establishing a grow tax that’s twenty or more times the value of the minimum wage is a complete prohibition for poor people.

Among some of the other regulations that California cities are considering “reasonable” to restrict adults’ right to indoor growing:

  • No permits for adults who owe any city taxes or fees;
  • City workers must be allowed to periodically inspect homes;
  • Growers must pay for a criminal background check for felonies within five years that disqualify home growing;
  • Only certain rooms with proper ventilation may be used for indoor cultivation;
  • Growers must provide a notarized copy of their landlord’s permission to grow;
  • Permits must be obtained from the city Chief of Police;
  • No indoor cultivation in any room that’s carpeted; and
  • A potential misdemeanor with six-month sentence for indoor cultivation without a permit.

Imagine for a moment that the list above was being applied to the right to bear arms. You can’t get a concealed handgun permit if you owe on some past parking tickets. City workers would have to inspect your home and ensure you have rooms with proper gun safes as well as a notarized permission slip from your landlord.

Or suppose we applied some of that list to your freedom of religion. You can’t start your own congregation until you pay for a background check, and any felony means you can’t be a pastor. You’ve got to get a permit for your church from the chief of police and your church can’t be carpeted.

These examples aren’t perfect analogies, as the cities do have some reasonable concern that indoor marijuana cultivation is carried out in a safe manner that doesn’t exacerbate underground weed dealing. But the further these pot-hating cities push the limits of what is “reasonable”, the more they’ll sabotage their own concern for safe regulation, as growers will simply ignore the permits and fees and restrictions they find too onerous.

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