Santa Cruz County

Capitola Bans Large Medical Marijuana Grows

City leaders worry about the possibility of crime

Capitola Bans Large Medical Marijuana Grows

Capitola, Calif. - Don't grow medical marijuana in my backyard.  That's what some residents are saying after a local businessman asks for permission.  Although growing cannabis for medicinal purposes is legal in California, the city of Capitola said it has the right to prevent it.  We found out why some residents said a medical marijuana testing lab, that's already established nearby, is enough of a concern to the neighborhood.
"It has it's place.  But I don't think that this location or Capitola has anything to offer for a commercially grown operation," said Capitola city council member Stephanie Harlan.

Harlan and her colleagues said they support proper medical marijuana in California.  Not only because it's the law, but because they said they've all seen the benefits for people who need it.  But on Thursday night they voted in favor of a new city ordinance to prevent it from being commercially grown near two mobile home parks.  The proposed building is owned by a man who also owns the building next where a medical marijuana testing lab is located.

"We ensure the quality and safety of the products that are made available to medical cannabis patients and dispensaries," said SC Labs CEO and Co-Founder Jeff Gray.

Some tenants said medical marijuana isn't being grown in Capitola yet and residents said they plan to fight to keep it that way.  But some want city leaders to be a bit more open minded and find a place that'll work for everyone -- while respecting the police department's concerns over the kind of crime a commercial grow could attract.

"I also believe that there are just as many people who are business oriented and who do care about this city," said a resident during public hearing at city council.

It's illegal to grow marijuana at the federal level.  However the Compassionate Care Act passed by voters in 1996, primary caregivers and qualified patients to grow a small amount of marijuana in a home as long as it doesn't become a nuisance.  City leaders want to make it clear -- the lab has nothing to do with the landlord's request for an indoor grow across the way.  But for some it's one in the same.

"Do some research.  Get that lab out of there.  It brings the element to the kids," said another resident at the city's public hearing on the ordinance.

City leaders said this new rule banning commercial grows of marijuana starts now and doesn't affect those who are allowed to grow their own medical marijuana at home.

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