In the heart of Wine Country, where harvest time produces pungent scents of fermenting grapes, the conversation these days is about another odor — that of skunk-like budding marijuana plants.
The harvest is still months away, but wine-centric Healdsburg is wrestling with guidelines for medical marijuana cultivation and whether to confine it indoors.
The intent behind keeping cultivation indoors is not only to suppress the smell, but to discourage burglaries and even violence.
Healdsburg soon could become the second city in Sonoma County to set rules for growing medical marijuana. Under regulations proposed by Police Chief Kevin Burke, patients could grow up to 12 mature plants and 24 immature ones — twice what state law allows.
Santa Rosa’s City Council is planning to tackle some thorny issues in the next two years, including the annexation of Roseland, requiring labor agreements on public projects and relaxing the city’s medicinal marijuana ordinance.
Two members of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors failed to push through a proposal to repeal the county’s guidelines on medical marijuana cultivation and possession. After listening for nearly two hours to medical marijuana lawyers, patients and advocates lambast the lack of outreach on the repeal effort, the board voted 5-0 to set it aside.
Cotati’s only medical cannabis dispensary won permission Wednesday to expand — but most of its growth will come in areas other than marijuana, its owner said. The City Council followed most staff recommendations in approving on a 4-0 vote Mercy Wellness’s request to change restrictions in its use permit.
Nine medical marijuana dispensaries will be permitted in the areas of Sonoma County outside city limits, the county Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday. The cap, proposed and under review since last year, is designed to prevent an over-concentration of cannabis outlets in the county government’s jurisdiction.
“Your story really resonated with me,” a resident writes in response to my Sunday column. “I have lost contact with my two sons because my ex-wife decided to get into the pot-growing and distribution business. . .Yes, there is a very ugly side to (Proposition) 215. I’m living it.”
Sonoma County officials are set to take another step today toward limiting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries permitted to operate in the unincorporated area. The Planning Commission will consider a limit of nine shops — equal to the six suppliers operating under existing county rules, plus three other suppliers with pending permit applications.
On Monday, a proposal to lift the Petaluma’s 4-year-old ban on marijuana dispensaries stalled in a 3-3 deadlock. Mayor David Glass said he might have supported the proposal three months ago, but the recent federal crackdown has tempered his views on medical marijuana. “I just don’t think at this time, in this environment, it’s the right thing to do because of the risks that are there,” he said. Do you agree with the council’s decision?