The cultivation of marijuana is being banned for now in the City of Ripon.
Elected leaders last week voted 4-0 (Mike Restuccia was absent) in favor of on an ordinance that repeals the previous one in response to the California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which has set a March 1 deadline for local governments to have laws in place on governing local medical marijuana cultivation.
Since November, cities throughout the state have been scrambling to come up with similar-type ordinances in advance of the bill’s upcoming deadline.
“The state has told us that if an ordinance is not set in place by March 1 then the local jurisdiction will lose the ability to make rules,” said Councilman Leo Zuber at the Jan. 11 meeting. “If we ever want to ban the cultivation we have to do it now.”
Ripon police Chief Ed Ormonde presented this urgency ordinance that called for an immediate vote. He noted that those who are registered with his department to legally grown marijuana for medicinal purposes will be granted a grace period. Ripon’s actions mirrors those taken by Manteca earlier this month as well as Lathrop and San Joaquin County late lastv year.
Ripon has a restriction on cultivation within the city, having already banned dispensaries and mobile delivery services.
“This ordinance requires four votes from the Council (to pass) and would take effect immediately,” Ormonde added.
Folks including those representing the various Central California Ag, Science, Education and Research coalitions from Merced, Turlock and Stanislaus County came out against the ordinance’s repeal.
Lakeesha Jenkins said that the March 1 deadline is false and will be “retracted,” in turn, leaving local municipalities in control.
“I urge Council to look at an ordinance that can work with all parties that does not ban the cultivation and hinder those who really need it,” she said.
Another coalition member Valerie Sergio uses medical marijuana to combat chronic pain from daily kidney stone attacks. Since then, she’s been given new lease on life with abilities.
“I want to see safe and secure access of medical marijuana for everyone,” said Sergio, who urged Council not to ban cultivation.
However, Stephen Qualls with the League of California Cities pointed out that the ordinance needed to be adopted in order for Ripon to maintain local control.
Zuber agreed, believing that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“The city is proposing this ordinance because the state made a mistake and if we wait until after March 1 (deadline) we can’t go back and make changes – anything we put in place now can always be changed,” he said.
Councilman Mark Winchell chimed in, saying: “This is the best thing for our city.”
Mayor Jake Parks added that the rules are set by the state.
“As a city, we are going to go by the law and take control over our city’s future,” he said.