Cannabis: Out of nose, out of mind

Winters Planning Commission moves to limit cannabis growing to indoors only within city limits.

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Regulation of cannabis for non-medical uses is not currently written into city municipal code although there are specific guidelines for residents who cultivate cannabis for personal medical use.

Because city officials felt that the odor from cannabis cultivation is a public nuisance, dispensaries are not permitted within city limits, even if they are solely for medical related distribution.

On Tuesday, Oct. 10, the planning commission was faced with a decision to keep that tone and recommend to the city council that outdoor cultivation of recreational cannabis also be restricted to avoid cannabis odor.

“All of you know there’s been various propositions before the voters; individuals can grow their own marijuana,” said community development director David Dowswell. “This will be handled like other nuisances. We’ll begin the same process, notify the property owner, give them time to comply, and it may escalate its way up to the city attorney’s office,” he continued.

“I liken it to a pig,” said City Manager John Donlevy, “Pigs are legal, they just aren’t legal in your backyard.”

To counter the city staff perspective, commissioner Dave Adams argued that it could place a burden on those growing for medical purposes.

“This puts a huge burden on people,” he said, “You can only smell this in its last few weeks of ripeness.

“In my mind, this is a similar problem to people having some German shepherds that smell. I think this is more along the lines of people having objections to drugs.”

“Smell is like the number one nuisance,” said commissioner Lisa Baker, “Six plants on a block is one thing, but 18 houses with six plants on a block is a different thing.”

She added that she would abstain from voting on the issue herself.

“I will probably abstain from this since it’s a schedule 1 federal drug in my professional life.”

“People will still be able to go out in their backyards and smoke, right? You can smell it when you’re walking around SF or Oakland, I don’t think the growing smell is going to have a huge effect,” said Adams.

Adams made a motion to pass the recommendation to update municipal code on cannabis without the odor nuisance rules, but this motion failed 4-2 with Baker’s abstention.

A separate motion to recommend unaltered updates of the municipal code to city council passed 4-2 with Baker’s abstention.


PG&E facility

The commission unanimously approved the removal and subsequent relocation of 26 trees in the parking lot of the new PG&E training facility on Highway 128.

Because the city building code requires shade in the parking lot, the trees will be replaced by solar panels for better coverage.

A representative from Evergreen Innovation Group, the consultant for the placement of the panels claimed the panels will offset 49-50 percent of the facility’s energy.

The planning commission meets next on Tuesday, Oct. 24, at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall. Anyone may attend.

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