Windsor bans cannabis businesses and outdoor cultivation, citing safety concerns, warehouse rush

Windsor is saying no to marijuana - no dispensaries, no cannabis businesses and no outdoor cultivation.|

The largest city in northern Sonoma County is saying “no” to marijuana - no dispensaries, no cannabis businesses and no outdoor cultivation.

The Windsor Town Council last week unanimously introduced an ordinance prohibiting any type of marijuana businesses within city limits, in part to preserve warehouse space from being gobbled up by the newly legalized industry.

But town officials also want to avoid any associated problems, such as burglaries and robberies of cash-heavy marijuana businesses.

“Windsor remains primarily a family-oriented town,” said Mayor Debora Fudge, who said there has been little call from the citizenry of Windsor to adopt a more lenient attitude toward cannabis.

Windsor Police Sgt. Andy Cash said that in previous meetings leading up to Wednesday’s action, it was clear the council wanted Windsor to have a “small town vibe. They wanted to keep a bedroom community, a wholesome community.”

With the passage last November of Prop. 64 legalizing recreational cannabis statewide, adults can possess up to an ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants per residence.

But cities and counties can put strict restrictions on indoor cultivation and prohibit outside grows like Windsor did Wednesday.

Under those rules, the six plants must be inside, and an over-the-counter permit is required from the community development department. There are more than a dozen other conditions such as complying with electrical, plumbing and fire codes, filtered ventilation to prevent marijuana odors, and security measures.

Most of the discussion centered on enforcement, with the council agreeing that any unauthorized cultivation could be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 per plant for each day the violation remains unabated.

Enforcement will be driven by complaints; police officers and town employees will not be actively searching for unauthorized cultivation.

Councilman Bruce Okrepkie said Windsor has limited commercial space and he didn’t want the town to experience a situation like the one in Santa Rosa, where the emerging cannabis industry is filling empty warehouses and driving up commercial real estate prices and rents. On Wednesday, only a couple of people addressed the council on the topic without voicing any dissent.

“I’m glad we didn’t chase the gold ring of marijuana tax that seems to be the lure for the county and other jurisdictions,” said Bill Adams, vice president of the Windsor Unified school board.

He said allowing commercial grows and manufacture of marijuana products creates revenue, but “at a price that I think our community isn’t entirely clear what that’s going to be.”

The Town Council did make an exception to allow deliveries to Windsor residents from out-of-town pot dispensaries.

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 707-521-5214 or ?On Twitter @clarkmas.

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