Woodside preserves right to regulate marijuana


(Expanded version of story previously posted.) There are at least 19 properties in Woodside that are considered farms, according to an agricultural production directory published by Dun & Bradstreet Inc. Several of these farms are vineyards and several more are involved with horses. Will marijuana cultivation find a place alongside them?

For now, the answer is no. In a unanimous decision Oct. 25, in anticipation of voters approving state Proposition 64 to allow the recreational use of marijuana as well as its cultivation and sale in California, the Town Council passed an ordinance temporarily forbidding outdoor cultivation and all marijuana-related commercial or industrial activities.

The ban is temporary for two reasons:

n It was an urgency ordinance. Such ordinances have a natural life of 45 days before they expire, a period that can be extended to up to two years by council action.

n If Propostion 64 passes, the clock will begin to tick on the window of time the council has to come up with a permanent ordinance, drafted by Town Hall staff and commented upon by the public.

If the council does not act, its urgency regulations would be preempted by state laws. To prevent that from happening and to maintain local control, the council must pass a permanent ordinance before the state begins to issue licenses for commercial growth, sale and distribution of marijuana.

The state has until the end of 2018 to begin licensing, Town Attorney Jean Savaree told the council. (In Colorado, the state needed about a year to begin licensing, according to Paul Armentano, a spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.)

The urgency ordinance dies if voters do not approve Prop. 64.

A resident, who did not identify herself, said she worried about a nearby vacant lot being planted with marijuana, then "a little stand" going up, with people "coming and going at all hours."

"I think that can (cause) some irreparable harm to our community if we don't think carefully about how it will be managed," she said.

An exchange between Councilman Chris Shaw and the town attorney summed up the council's action.

Mr. Shaw: "If we enact this ordinance, the public will have a chance to stand in here in a study session and say, 'This is what we want for the town'?"

Ms. Savaree: "That's correct."

Mr. Shaw: "If we do not take this action, they don't have that option?"

Ms. Savaree: "That's right."


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