MARIJUANA LAW, TOBACCO SALES BEFORE CITY COUNCIL
The Ukiah City Council will focus on two different drug-related city laws during its meeting tonight, amending its marijuana ordinance to restrict all outdoor cultivation and introducing an ordinance cracking down on tobacco retailers who sell to youth.
The alteration to the existing marijuana law -- which took effect Sept. 2 -- would also delete the six plant per parcel limit and the prohibition on cultivating marijuana within a specific distance from schools or parks.
No permits for growing medical pot will be issued by the city for a variety of reasons, including the belief that Ukiah may be authorizing an activity in direct violation of the federal Controlled Substances Act, city officials said. Also, the public notice requirements of the ordinance publicizes where the marijuana will be grown, running counter to the goal of avoiding marijuana cultivation as an attractive nuisance. The public notice and public hearing of the permit process have also been argued to violate the privacy rights of a marijuana patient.
City officials said that although no permits will be issued, indoor growing of marijuana will now violate the ordinance unless the grower allows the fire marshal to inspect the plants to ensure against an undue risk of fire.
The marshal's records would remain confidential.
If all marijuana is required to be grown within a secure structure, the city notes, there is less need for banning cultivation within the stated distance of public facilities.
The tobacco ordinance will require that all retail outlets that sell tobacco products be licensed through the city. The Public Health Department will conduct two investigations every year to determine if the shops are selling tobacco products to minors.
The first violation would merit a 14-day license suspension. But if the retailer trains all sales employees in laws governing the sale to minors, no suspension will go into effect. A second violation sees a 21-day suspension; the third violation requires a 30-day suspension and the fourth lands a three-year suspension.
Selling tobacco products without a license will result in a fine.
A 2004 survey on youth tobacco sales showed that 41 percent of Ukiah tobacco retailers illegally sold to minors.
The City Council will also discuss its response to the Ukiah Valley Area Plan Environmental Impact Report. The council will read Director of Planning and Development Charley Stump's letter to Mendocino County officials highlighting the city's disagreements with the report.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center and the public is encouraged to attend.