Petaluma may tighten rules for growing marijuana

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The Petaluma City Council may take action Monday night to ban outdoor marijuana gardening in a bid to address frequent thefts, offensive odors and other public nuisance complaints related to the plant’s cultivation, and to crack down on those who grow pot commercially under the guise of providing medical marijuana.

The proposed restriction on growing marijuana outside of an enclosed, locking structure is part of a sweeping overhaul of city regulations in response to the widespread cultivation and associated problems many California communities have grappled with in the two decades since voters approved Proposition 215 authorizing medicinal marijuana use.

Petaluma’s revised ordinance would impose a host of new conditions on local growers, aimed principally at reining in cultivation and protecting neighbors, landlords and others from bearing the consequences of someone else’s decision to grow pot — everything from accidental fire to the risks of home-invasion robberies to mold.

Proposals include allowing growers only to cultivate enough for a single qualified patient. And only a patient or a primary caregiver may do the growing, and only on residential properties where one or the other lives full-time.

Marijuana gardens would be limited to 100 square feet or 50 percent of a non-living area, such as a garage or outbuilding, and homes could not be used primarily for growing marijuana. Gardens must be out of view of the public, the ordinance states.

Other regulations call for grow lights not to exceed 1,200 watts and would ban generators from being used in detached structures where marijuana is grown. Gas-powered appliances could also not be used.

Monday’s meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at 11 English St. For more information, see http://petaluma.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=23.

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