Sonoma City Council extends cannabis ban another year

The Sonoma Index Tribune

With the clock ticking down on the city’s already year-old moratorium on cannabis cultivation, the Sonoma City Council on Monday extended the ban another year, to again give city officials more time to develop a long-term policy around the newly legal federally controlled substance.

It was the city’s third extension of the moratoriums – a set of three temporary ordinances prohibiting pot grows in the city – which was first placed by the Council on Nov. 7 of 2016 for 45 days, then renewed for an additional 10 months last December.

The previous moratoriums were set to expire at midnight on Monday.

“These ordinances are to buy time,” said City Attorney Jeff Walter, who urged approval of the moratorium extensions in order to give the council more time to draft its own regulations on marijuana cultivation. “If the Council does nothing, we (would be) left with a scramble” to create an ordinance before state law regarding the sale of cannabis takes effect Jan. 2, when the state is expected to begin issuing business licenses for the dispensing of marijuana.

The moratoriums cover the indoor and outdoor cultivation of both medicinal and recreational cannabis, as well as any commercial cannabis activities. Under state law individuals can still cultivate up to six plants for personal use. However, the City’s temporary ordinance places tight restrictions on even that, requiring security systems, structural specifications, written property owner consent and lighting provisions.

Additionally, beginning Jan. 2, the ordinance allows for deliveries of medical cannabis from outside-the-city businesses, as long as they’ve acquired a City of Sonoma permit.

The non-local delivery allowance irked Sonoma resident John Early, who spoke during the public comment period of the meeting to question why the city isn’t supporting local dispensaries.