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Marijuana ordinance could set statewide precedent, advocates say

Adam Jensen
ajensen@tahoedailytribune.com

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A medical marijuana cultivation ordinance under development by a South Lake Tahoe committee could serve as a model for communities around the state if approved by the City Council, advocates said this week.

The proposed cultivation ordinance could be presented to the council for approval as soon as an Oct. 5 goal, but likely won’t come before the body until its Oct. 19 meeting, said City Manager Tony O’Rourke following a meeting of the medical marijuana cultivation committee on Thursday.

The City Council created the committee last month following concerns from medical marijuana advocates over requirements in a cultivation ordinance that gained initial approval from the council in July.

The committee has developed provisions of a possible new ordinance during the past three weeks.

On Thursday, the committee scheduled a fourth meeting from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 29 at Lake Tahoe Airport to review draft language for the proposed ordinance. City Attorney Patrick Enright expected to have the draft written by Monday.

The stated goal of the proposed ordinance is to protect private property from damage by improperly constructed cultivation operations, and is largely based on existing building and fire codes.

The ordinance is not expected to include explicit wattage or space requirements, but is designed so operations of various sizes are appropriately constructed, Enright said Thursday.

Discussion at this week’s meeting centered around a possible timeline for implementation and permitting fees.

The ordinance is expected to include fees to pay for the permitting process surrounding the new regulations, O’Rourke said Thursday.

Fees associated with South Lake Tahoe’s medical marijuana cultivation permits are expected to be about $500 for the first year and $200 in subsequent years to pay for inspections by city fire officials.

The proposed ordinance is also likely to include a Jan. 1 deadline for existing medical marijuana growing operations to come into compliance.

Committee members Cody Bass, the owner of Tahoe Wellness Collective, and Gino DiMatteo, the owner of City of Angels 2 Wellness Collective, said they were pleased with the committee’s progress following Thursday’s meeting.

Explicit limits on size or wattage associated with medical marijuana grows approved by the other California jurisdictions are likely to be challenged in court, Bass said.

But the committee’s focus on reconciling medical marijuana laws with existing building and fire codes is unique and will likely be replicated throughout the state if approved, Bass added.


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