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November 16, 2018, California
Roughly one year before the materialization of Proposition 64, the city of Fontana adopted quite a restrictive ordinance regarding the domestic cultivation of cannabis. The Fontana City Council approved a measure in January 2017, which exponentially increased the fee to obtain a permit for growing MMJ on private properties. The ordinance also gave the local law enforcement bodies the authority to search all the permitted properties without any warrant. Apart from MMJ advocates, many people from within the council opposed this restrictive measure, but the administration brushed off all concerns.
Proposition 64 Changed The Game
After the approval of Proposition 64, many plaintiffs sued the Fontana city Council with respect to that restrictive domestic cultivation ordinance. The state’s superior court has finally given its verdict and struck down both the aforementioned provisions.
The way the Fontana administration went ahead with the ordinance also indicates how local governments often disregard statewide legislation. Proposition 64 clearly mentions that the residents of the state will be allowed to grow up to six marijuana plants on their properties.
City administrations can enact some restrictions for better regulation of state laws. However, considering the way Fontana regressively treated the issues of domestic cultivation, many were forced to believe that the city officials were just trying to outlaw the provision through legal means.
As mentioned earlier, residents had to agree to sudden inspections from the officials to get the domestic cultivation license. Many experts have termed this provision a subtle and mild way to systematically criminalize the domestic cultivation of cannabis. Citizens would only feel as if they were criminals if they had to go through unsolicited and random inspections of their properties. For that matter, many people refrained from applying for the license.
Apart from that, the city was charging outrageous fees to issue cultivation permits. Residents had to pay for the scanning of their criminal records. It is important to mention here that no such requirement is prescribed in the state law. Besides that, the basic permit fee was also unreasonably high. Residents had to pay $411 for the first year to cultivate cannabis domestically.
Will the Decision Set any Precedent?
Since the verdict is not from the apex court, it won’t set any legal precedent. Similarly, attorneys can’t mention the decision in any other case. Nonetheless, it might have some impact on future legislation put forward by local governments. They might think twice before implementing any restrictive ordinance, particularly anything related to domestic cultivation.
Local Governments Slow Down the Implementation of Legalization
Many aspects of cannabis legalization lie with the city and county administrations. For instance, cities are given the power to have a final say on commercial permits. Similarly, they can enforce local zoning regulations for cannabis businesses. Unfortunately, local administrations haven’t turned out to be really forthcoming when it comes to legal cannabis operations. It has been reported that after 10 months into legalization, nearly 65 percent of state localities in California don’t have any legal cannabis establishments.