Modesto considers regulating medical pot

The Modesto City Council will take another stab at a medical marijuana ordinance.
The Modesto City Council will take another stab at a medical marijuana ordinance. Associated Press file

Modesto is moving quickly to regulate medical marijuana in response to the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which creates statewide licensing and operating rules for the pot industry for the first time since voters legalized medical use in 1996, according to the League of California Cities.

The new regulations take effect Jan. 1 and cede control to the state unless a local jurisdiction passes its own regulations before March 1.

The City Council will hold a workshop on Modesto’s proposed ordinance Tuesday. City Attorney Adam Lindgren said it is expected to go to the Planning Commission this month and then to the council for adoption in January.

Lindgren said cities across the state are passing ordinances to retain local control over the regulation of medical marijuana. For instance, on Tuesday the Turlock City Council will discuss banning “all commercial cannabis activities and deliveries, and cultivation in the city,” according to the Turlock meeting agenda.

Modesto officials brought a proposed ordinance a year ago to the Planning Commission to regulate the cultivation of medical marijuana, but commissioners said the proposal needed more work. Commissioners were concerned that the proposed ordinance would inadvertently harm those who legitimately grow and use medical marijuana.

The proposed ordinance called for such actions as prohibiting growing marijuana in backyards and other outdoor locations and restricting its cultivation to inside single-family homes or secured detached structures, such as garages. The ordinance would have limited cultivation to 50 square feet, and marijuana could not have been grown within 1,000 feet of a school, park or day care facility.

Police officials are concerned that outdoor growing attracts criminals and the plant’s noxious odors can offend neighbors.

“Our recommendations will be similar but simpler,” Lindgren said about the most recent proposal. “The purpose of the workshop is to talk with the council about what component parts sound good.” He said the council can modify it after it is in place.

The public can attend the workshop, and the council will take no formal action.

The workshop will include Modesto’s efforts to update its water and wastewater master plans and rate studies for water and wastewater customers. The council is expected to consider increasing water and wastewater rates next year.

The workshop will be held in room B300 after the council meeting. The council meets at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.