A small Southern California town is moving to require a costly permit for residents who want to grow marijuana in their own homes.
The Desert Sun reports that the city council of Indian Wells (population roughly 5,200) passed an ordinance recently that would force home growers to register for a permit — and pay $141 a year for the privilege.
Growers would have to submit to a home inspection to demonstrate that they’re hewing to the six-plant limit mandated by Prop. 64 and have adequate ventilation and security on their grow rooms. The council voted 4-1 in favor of the rule; Councilman Ty Peabody, who abstained, told a Desert Sun reporter that “I just don’t believe in marijuana.”
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Legal experts differed about whether the local law would be enforceable.
“While local governments cannot ban the indoor cultivation of 6 plants, they can ‘reasonably regulate’ that activity,” said Richard Miadich, the attorney who drafted Prop. 64. “I believe requiring a permit to track those persons growing indoors would likely be viewed as a form of reasonable regulation as long as any associated fees didn’t result in a de facto ban.”
UC Irvine Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky told the Desert Sun that “this goes significantly beyond what state law allows local governments to do.” Paul Armentano, deputy director for the NORML foundation, said that “this seems awfully onerous.” He added that those who brew beer at home are not required to register or pay for permits.
Cannabis experts also raised questions about creating a registry of marijuana growers, saying that it could invite abuse or be used to pursue prosecutions at the federal level, where marijuana remains illegal. Attorney Omar Figueroa, a cannabis law expert, said “it’s not a constitutionally enforceable law … It would be foolish of them to enforce it.”