San Ramon moves toward banning marijuana cultivation, delivery

Final vote on proposed ordinance set for next month

San Ramon appears on its way to prohibiting the cultivation and delivery of marijuana after the City Council gave initial support to a proposed ordinance establishing the ban Tuesday.

All five councilmen voted to introduce the ordinance and advance it forward for final consideration next month, endorsing the total ban as recommended but also leaving open the possibility of future allowances for people who use marijuana for medical reasons.

"If we pass what we have in front of us right now, and then a few months down the road we decide we want to allow other things, we can come back and change the ordinance," Vice Mayor Scott Perkins said during the meeting Tuesday night at City Hall.

The prohibition proposal stems from health and safety welfare concerns regarding negative impacts and secondary effects of cultivation and distribution of marijuana, according to Alicia Poon, deputy city attorney.

The city code is currently silent on marijuana growth and delivery, but in light of new state law, the city is facing a March 1 deadline to choose whether to administer a local conditional permit program for marijuana operations before that power is granted to the state's Department of Food and Agriculture, Poon said.

With the deadline approaching, San Ramon officials opted to draft a proposed ordinance that prohibits all marijuana delivery and cultivation -- indoors and outdoors -- for all people, including qualified patients and primary caregivers growing marijuana for medical use.

Violations would be punishable as a misdemeanor and subject to other available remedies, including civil penalties enforced through administrative citation provisions in the city code.

Similar punishments were part of a ban on marijuana dispensaries the council enacted just over two months ago.

Council members debated the merits of the proposed cultivation and delivery prohibition during a public hearing Tuesday night.

They heard from a sole citizen speaker, Patty Hoyt of the San Ramon Valley Alcohol Policy Coalition, who said she and the coalition support the ban, especially because of how it would affect youth access to marijuana.

"Allowing (marijuana) to be cultivated and delivered in our city indicates an acceptance of its use. It becomes a social norm," Hoyt told the council. "As for perception of harm, it fosters the notion that if it's medicine, it must be OK; if it can be grown in my city, it must be OK. When you increase access to marijuana through cultivation and delivery, youth access is going to increase as well."

Following Hoyt's commentary, the councilmen discussed the difference between commercial grow operations and people who have a legitimate medical need for medicinal marijuana.

"I think we know what we want -- we don't want grow houses," Councilman Harry Sachs said. "But I think that there's a sense that we'd like to understand the issue of a qualified patient and their ability to take care of their medical needs in a transparent way that is legal and also non-threatening."

Councilman Dave Hudson expressed the need for medical marijuana among seniors and his concern about whether the ordinance would affect their overall health and lifestyle.

"It's not the kids, it's the seniors," Hudson said. "For them, it's medicine. I don't know how to do it (enact an ordinance), other than what we're talking about here, and just hope that our police have the good discretion and better things to do than go looking for 70-year-olds who are trying to make it through the day."

The councilmen also talked about the notion that they did not see medical marijuana as being culturally accepted in San Ramon, but they said they understood having respect toward personal rights and a person's ability to take medicine.

They stood firm on the ordinance regarding the ban of delivery of medical marijuana, but they took into consideration whether a qualified person should be able to cultivate and use a certain amount indoors only.

"If we don't fundamentally agree on specific guidance tonight, then we'll keep kicking it down the road, and I'm not convinced that we will reach consensus on what that is here and now," Perkins said of the debate to add allowances for medical users.

"If it takes us two or three council meetings to reach that consensus on a future adjustment to the ordinance, that's fine. But in the meantime, we have this ordinance in place," he added.

The councilmen agreed to moved forward with the total ban as presented and set their final vote for Jan. 12. In the meantime, city staff was asked to look at the policy to see if anything could be gained by allowing qualified patients to have two marijuana plants.

In other business

* The council approved agreements with Waste Management for new waste collection services -- recyclable and organics service for commercial customers and school organics collection, all soon to be required under state mandates.

Students from several San Ramon schools, including Windemere Ranch Middle School and Dougherty Valley High School (DVHS), attended the debate and presented their thoughts on ways that local schools can improve in composting efforts.

The students explained that by composting at San Ramon schools, they and their classmates could begin to help both landfills and the environment. The students expressed concern that other students didn't seem to care about whether they should dispose their waste in the garbage or the recycle bin, and they offered ideas to begin to alleviate the problem.

The councilmen offered their advice in the next steps to take and recommended the students representing DVHS' Petals for People Club further discuss their ideas with school board members and Waste Management representatives.

City program manager David Krueger then presented on the current commercial recycling program in San Ramon, explaining that in January a mandate will require businesses to implement a program regarding their organics.

"Businesses need to do it, and the city needs to provide them with the opportunity to do so," Krueger said.

The mandate will be implemented in phases, affecting businesses, schools and public entities. Businesses must sign up by April. By that time, businesses that have eight or more cubic yards of organics per week will have to recycle.

In 2017, businesses with four or more cubic yards of organics per week will have to recycle. In 2019, the mandate will apply to anyone who has four or more cubic yards of any kind of solid waste.

"In San Ramon, there are 32 businesses we believe will need to have to recycle organics in 2016, and 65 total in 2017," Krueger said.

Krueger recommended new programs in regard to commercial recyclables, commercial organics and school organics collection in San Ramon including the use of carts, bins, and roll-off compactors for commercial organics.

With the new mandates, businesses will be able to have up to one cubic yard per week of commercial recyclables at no charge and up to 96 gallons per week of commercial organics at no charge.

* At the end of the meeting, the five-year financial forecast for San Ramon was presented by administrative services director Eva Phelps.

The general reserves are projected to decrease from 2016 to 2020, then start "trickling back up" with a positive increase in 2021, she said.

The report also predicted that over the next five years, there will be 19 staffing positions that will need to be filled -- 17 of those positions will be new and two will be vacant positions.

Editor's note: Amanda Morris is a freelance writer for

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27 people like this
Posted by FreedomFighter
a resident of Blackhawk
on Dec 11, 2015 at 8:46 am

Some of our politicians and lawmakers would rather destroy the lives of citizens and children than stand up to their corporate masters at big booze and big pharma. With the data below common knowledge what other conclusion can you come to?

All the data needed for an informed decision on cannabis legalization has already been collected and can be found at the CDC web site.

Figures directly from the CDC dot gov web site
Numbers of deaths per year in the USA
* Prescription Drugs: 237,485 + 5000 traffic fatalities
* Tobacco: 390,323
* Alcohol: 88,013 + 16,000 traffic fatalities
* Cocaine: 4,906
* Heroin: 7,200
* Aspirin: 466
* Acetaminophen (Tylenol): 179
* Marijuana: 0, none, not a single fatal overdose in all medical history and almost no traffic problems.

So, which is safer????

Legalize, regulate, TAX!

10 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 11, 2015 at 9:12 am

Please provide a link "directly from the CDC dot gov web site" because when I googled it, all I get is your same post 497 times on discussion boards all throughout the country. I guess once Google picks this up, your post will be 498 times.

12 people like this
Posted by Common sense
a resident of Alamo
on Dec 11, 2015 at 9:19 am

My 90 year old mother was diagnosed with advanced dementia by Kaiser after a thorough exam and evaluation of her medications; she could no longer talk or function properly. Luckily the director of her assisted living facility(a nurser herself) suggested a cannabis consultant to us. We met, reassessed her medications, and replaced two of her prescribed medications (controlled substances) with CBD cannabis. I have my mom back; she is watching the political debates, shopping for holiday gifts, talking our ears off... Her CBD cannabis is delivered to her assisted living facility.
I'm glad the City of San Ramon is being cautious about access to teens but please don't demonize a substance that is far safer than many medications that are in your own medicine cabinets.

2 people like this
Posted by Pedal Power
a resident of Danville
on Dec 12, 2015 at 12:24 am

When marijuana gets legalized, as it should and will be, I see no reason when residents should not be able to grow it, at least for private use, in their own back yards or on window sills without having to worry about interference from Danville's finest. Maybe the same sort of fencing could be required as for other backyard attractions, such as swimming pools, but that seems over the top. @Longtime Resident: This search will get you to the CDC website, what you do after that is your business: Web Link (I saw no reason to doubt FreedomFighter's condensation of the data and did not bother checking it). I don't use MJ but, if legal, I'd probably plant a couple next to the aloe vera to have on hand and see how it got on. The birds usually get the grapes
so maybe all I'd get would be stoned starlings?

2 people like this
Posted by Pedal Power
a resident of Danville
on Dec 12, 2015 at 12:28 am

PS - thanks to Common Sense for the dementia tip; that nasty disease has run in my family so I'm always open to tips for handling it.

2 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 13, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Pedal Power, my point is that the CDC doesn't differentiate some of the causes of death the way it was listed above and the causes they do list have different numbers. That causes me to believe that his post is nothing more than spam.

Like this comment
Posted by Chedougabs Sia Hicguns
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 15, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Under current laws, many interpret the 5-plant rule as a legal means to cultivate, if such person is a caregiver, or a prescription holder. Yet it is technically still illegal, simply unprosecuted. Many abuse this as a mechanism to deal illegally. Five plants can produce a lot of cannabis, if the grower has some basic skills. This outdoor cultivation:
1) It invites left
2) It is assessable to children
3) Still against federal law
Stills that refine alcohol for personal use are illegal, unless licensed by the federal government, or produce spirits for commercial purposes other than consumption. We must hold cannabis growers must to similar standards. Make them take responsibility for keeping an eye on their product and stay within the law’s limitations. In many countries, they require indoor cultivation only. Abroad where cannabis is legal, commercial sale is highly regulated and taxed. Make no mistake, cannabis is a powerful drug, at a minimum it is an analog to distilled spirits with regard to the amount of consumption necessary to affect the nervous system.
A permitting process and inspections is a reasonable method of regulation for outdoor cultivation. The threshold must be set high here and penalties significant for negligence. This process should be self-funding. If one simply needs to cultivate medical cannabis for personal recreational use, or medical needs, an indoor cultivation requirement is a reasonable compromise. Furthermore, the number of mature plants should not exceed two.
My suggestions are nowhere near perfect, but they are a reasonable place to start the planning process for reasonable regulation.
Personally, my feelings are that cannabis is still illegal from a federal standpoint and San Ramon should take the stance that cannabis cultivation shall remain prohibited as a matter of Federal statute, until federal laws changes. This is for the betterment of our community, to protect our children from the scourge of drugs. Cannabis is not harmless.
Putting on your favorite Grateful Dead tie-dye, sitting down on the couch with a bag of Doritos and blowing off school, work, homework after a couple of bong hits becomes habit forming. Waste away all you want bong boys and girls, just keep your crap away from our kids! If you start bringing your dirt bag friends around to help you “party-on” in numbers, or buy your outdoor bumper crop of wacky tobacco, you are scum; we do not need your kind ‘round here. This is what delivery and outdoor cultivation bring to town. Take a lesson from moonshiners weedpeople. Keep your crap out of sight and under the radar. Not in our town!

5 people like this
Posted by curious resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 16, 2015 at 12:54 pm

"The prohibition proposal stems from health and safety welfare concerns regarding negative impacts"

Why is the CITY COUCIL concerning itself with the health and safety welfare of residents? We already have a large state and county systems in place for this. Just be honest for once. You want to ban it on moral grounds, not because you are our mommies. Shall I invite the council over to examine my refrigerator to make sure the food therein is healthy for me?

Like this comment
Posted by Chedougabs Sia Hicguns
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 16, 2015 at 6:53 pm

Perhaps you have been hitting the bong too hard curious resident?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Montair Elementary School

on Apr 20, 2017 at 3:25 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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