Contra Costa towns toughen stance on pot

Several Contra Costa County cities imposed local bans on marijuana cultivation this week ahead of a state law’s apparent deadline for any such move.

The Antioch and Oakley city councils each passed regulations regarding growing medical marijuana this week. The same day, Brentwood added another ordinance to its existing ban on cultivation.

Antioch and Oakley moved to prohibit marijuana growing rather than adhering to provisions of a state law that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October.

The California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act contained a March 1 deadline for local jurisdictions to regulate marijuana cultivation in this manner.

Antioch’s prohibition passed in a unanimous 5-0 vote. In a staff report attached to the City Council’s agenda, a number of concerns with marijuana cultivation were highlighted.

The report, prepared by the city attorney’s office, stated that it has the potential to lead to criminal activity, that it “emits an odor that is considered to be noxious,” and that it can attract burglars and lead to “violent confrontations.” Oakley passed a similar prohibition on cultivation in a 3-2 vote.

Councilwoman Vanessa Perry, who voted against it with councilwoman Sue Higgins, argued during Tuesday’s meeting that there will always be people who break laws and those who need medicine should not be penalized.

Many more people spoke during a public comment session against the ordinance. One apparent medical marijuana patient said growing provides him less expensive and safer access to medicine.

Those for the ordinance reiterated concerns about safety before quickly moving to approve it.

Brentwood reaffirmed its existing ban on marijuana cultivation as well as its prohibition on dispensaries with another ordinance on Tuesday that bans medical marijuana delivery.

The exception is if the delivery or transport of medical marijuana is handled by a patient’s primary caregiver as defined by state law.

The added regulation was unanimously approved by Brentwood’s City Council.