Citing Crime, Northern California City Bars Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation

City leaders in northern California are moving forward with plans to ban outdoor medical marijuana cultivation operations, saying that it has attracted crime and become a nuisance. plantjes.jpg

Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know this is contrary to what numerous recent studies have uncovered, including:

  • The RAND Corporation last year released a study on the alleged links between Los Angeles marijuana dispensaries and crime rates. There was none.
  • Then there was the 2009 Los Angeles Police Department Survey, commissioned by Chief Charlie Beck. The report indicated that 71 robbery reports had been filed by the city’s 350 banks the year prior. Medical marijuana dispensaries, which far outnumbered banks at the time with about 800, had only 47 reported robberies.
  • UCLA last year conducted a study called, “Exploring the Ecological Link Between Crime and Marijuana Dispensaries.” That study was extensive and determined that while a number of other factors contributed to higher crime rates, the saturation of marijuana dispensaries in a given area was not one of them.
  • A Regent University study conducted last year analyzed crime rates in Denver, where medicinal marijuana is legal. What researchers found was that while most crimes had increased from 2008 to 2009 in Denver, areas that were within 1,000-foot radius of a marijuana dispensary actually saw a DECREASE of crimes.

Despite all this, council members in Sacramento are citing crime rates as the reason for quashing outdoor marijuana cultivation efforts there. The measure passed 8-1, with council directing city staffers to draft an ordinance that they could then approve.

In Sacramento, dispensaries are already barred from operating within 1,000 feet of other dispensaries and from being within 300 feet of residences and 600 feet from parks and schools.

During the recent discussion on barring outdoor grow efforts, some council expressed a desire to increase the required distance from parks and schools to 1,000 feet.

There is currently a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensary permits from the city, after a series of federal crackdowns in the area. Those dispensaries that were already open prior to federal intervention have been grandfathered in and allowed to remain open, meaning there are a total of 17 in the city.

The city hasn’t moved to shut down those facilities, but it does want to limit the ability of dispensaries and collectives to grow the plant in their back yards. The police department has said there has been a spate of burglaries and “other” crimes related to these operations. One that was mentioned was a homeowner who fired gunshots in the direction of intruders on his backyard property and another incidence in which a resident was robbed of his marijuana. However, our marijuana lawyers think a closer look of the statistics might bear out that rates of crime surrounding cultivation operations are no higher than anywhere else.

A representative for the local Americans for Safe Access chapter implored the council to wait to make a decision until the federal government’s stance against the industry is finalized by upcoming legal battles. The city, however, plans to move forward with restrictions anyway.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
City Council favors prohibiting outdoor gardens of medicinal marijuana, Oct. 17, 2012, By Ryan Lillis, Sacramento Bee
More Blog Entries:
Authorities Target California Marijuana Farms, Oct. 9, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog