The Danville Town Council is set to debate whether to prohibit cultivation, delivery and processing of medical marijuana in the town Tuesday night.
Town staff pushes for a total ban on the three marijuana-related activities, but the Danville Planning Commission instead advocates allowing limited delivery for severely ill residents whose doctors recommend they use medical marijuana, according to Rob Ewing, Danville's city attorney.
The proposed ban ordinance, spurred by recent state legislation, would create the town's first local medical marijuana regulations since the council outlawed marijuana dispensaries in 2011, Ewing wrote in his staff report to the council.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last year the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which establishes new licensing requirements and standards for the medical marijuana industry while also preserving land-use authority for cities to regulate medical marijuana if they establish local rules before upcoming deadlines, Ewing said.
Local jurisdictions must adopt their marijuana cultivation regulations by March 1, and Danville town officials recommend the council endorse a full ban, primarily because of safety and public nuisance concerns, according to Ewing.
"The town has had some experience with the issue, including a major structure fire caused by an illegal indoor grow house and a handful of complaints regarding the smell of outdoor cultivation, which is permitted to a limited extent for qualified patients under the current law," he stated.
Ewing also provided the council with options for potential regulations instead of a total ban, including allowing some amount of cultivation for personal use by qualified patients or primary caregivers.
Town staff recommends prohibiting marijuana delivery "based on concerns about security, crime and enforcement," according to Ewing.
But the Planning Commission, when reviewing the proposed ordinance last month, instead unanimously supported allowing some delivery. "The basis for this recommendation is that due to the absence of any fixed location dispensaries in the immediate area, home delivery is the only feasible way for those with severe health issues to receive their medication," Ewing said.
He also said town officials agree that based on crime and security concerns, the council should prohibit all marijuana processing, including all aspects of manufacturing, from extracting and drying cannabis to packaging and distribution.
The council members are set to weigh the options and give initial support to new town regulations Tuesday night. If endorsed, the proposed ordinance would return to the council for a second reading and final adoption Jan. 26.
Under the proposed ordinance, violators would be deemed a public nuisance and could face civil penalties through the town's code enforcement rules.
The ordinance does not propose criminal charges, with Ewing citing a state appellate court ruling late last year that determined while local officials "could treat violations of the ordinance as a public nuisance, the state law preempts criminal prosecution for those qualified patients or primary caregivers that are cultivating amounts consistent with state law."
The medical marijuana discussion is among several open-session items set for Tuesday's regular council meeting, scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Town Meeting Hall at 201 Front St.
In other business
The council will hear a report on recycled water use from Paul Causey, president pro tem of the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District.
Henry Perezalonso, town recreation services manager, will present a report on the Recreation, Arts and Community Services Department.
Council members will also consider updates about town investments and TRAFFIX, a joint venture among the town, city of San Ramon, Contra Costa County and the school district aimed at addressing congestion caused by school-related traffic in the area's busiest intersections.