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Suit hits citys restrictions on recreational pot growers
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FONTANA  (AP) — A lawsuit filed against a California city claims an ordinance makes it unreasonably difficult and expensive for adult residents to grow up to six marijuana plants for personal use under the state’s voter-approved Proposition 64.
The American Civil Liberties Union of California and the Drug Policy Alliance sued Monday in San Bernardino County Superior Court, seeking to bar Fontana from enforcing its ordinance.
The local law requires residents to pay more than $400 for a permit and to cover the cost of fingerprint background checks to show they have no drug-related felony convictions in the past five years, among many other restrictions. The suit called the checks an invasion of privacy.
Fontana City Attorney Jeff Ballinger told the San Bernardino Sun newspaper ( ) there would be no comment until the City Council and his office have a chance to review the complaint.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Fontana resident Mike Harris, a 61-year-old retiree who had been an ironworker and registered nurse.
The suit said he has had multiple injuries and significant medical procedures as well as arthritis, and obtained a medical marijuana card when physicians recommended he try it for relief of pain.
When he heard of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, approved by California voters last November, “Harris thought it would be both convenient and economical for him to grow his own cannabis plants at home for his personal use,” the lawsuit said.
The Fontana City Council gave final approval to its ordinance in February.
Among other rules, it requires residents seeking a growing permit to have no pending code enforcement actions or outstanding payments due to the city. Renters must get notarized permission from landlords or landowners.
The lawsuit also targets rules requiring the growing area to be a room used exclusively for cultivation, accessed only through one lockable door and subject to city inspection.
“Many residents of Fontana will be unable to afford to dedicate a separate room in their home entirely to the cultivation of six or fewer marijuana plants, or to undertake the construction necessary to create a separate, locked room accessible by a single door,” the suit said.
Joy Haviland, a staff attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement that the ordinance is at odds with the state law enacted by a majority of voters in California, San Bernardino County and the city of Fontana.
“Local officials cannot limit or undo what is now legally allowed in California,” Haviland said.