Pleasant Hill residents push for legalized marijuana cultivation


Katharine Hada

Pleasant Hill council members discuss an amendment to the marijuana ordinance, Monday evening, Oct. 19.

Madeline Berry, Staff member

A majority of the Pleasant Hill City Council members said they wanted to allow outside marijuana growth at the city council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Council members proposed a change in the current ordinance regarding outdoor cultivation of marijuana. Lately, the City of Pleasant Hill has received complaints from residents related to the negative community impact of outdoor marijuana cultivation. As a result, Pleasant Hill is proposing a special exemption for legal marijuana card holders.

Council member Timothy Flaherty said, “I think it is a nuisance to have large commercial grows. I think it is a nuisance to have collective grows within our city limits. I think however that it would be appropriate to exempt those who do have a medical marijuana card to have some (crops) for personal use.”

Flaherty said, “I think that in the next year or two we’re going to see the state led effort regulating marijuana cultivation, which is already on the books. We’re going to see an initiative to legalize marijuana, which may or may not pass.”

Medical marijuana patients believe this ordinance is unfair. They rely on what their plants provide to support their usage.

Karen Yapp, a marijuana advocate who has been living in Pleasant Hill since 1989, addressed the council saying, “I feel that it will do nothing for our safety, but will definitely hurt medical marijuana patients in our community.”

Yapp went on to say, “There are two types of marijuana growers. The first kind has a valid marijuana license who grows no more than six plants for personal use and he is operating fully within the law. The other type may or may not have a license but he grows more than six plants some of which he sells. This person is operating outside the law. Your ordinance is trying to stop the second type while penalizing the first.”

Bob Ariana agreed with Yapp’s statement, and said, ” He spends less than $150 a year to support the three plants he grows for personal use,” According to Ariana, It would cost him over $400 monthly to attain that much from a club.

“Personal growers will not have traffic. They are not selling to anyone,” said Ariana.

Law enforcement is concerned that outdoor cultivation sites may become a target for criminal activity: be it trespassing, theft, or damage to personal property. Hazards can lead cultivators to take extreme measures to protect themselves, and their property, such as involving firearms and booby traps.

Pleasant Hill’s Chief of Police, John Moore, said, “I have not come across that. However I cannot speak for all. I have not personally responded to seeing an individual using booby traps to protect themselves. I know with larger amount land growers that happens.”

The exemption to this ordinance will be further reviewed by the City’s Planning Committee and the sent back for a vote next Pleasant Hill City Council meeting on Nov. 2.