Santa Rosa Council votes to draft rules for marijuana cultivation

 (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The Santa Rosa City Council voted unanimously Tuesday evening to draft its own regulations regarding commercial medical marijuana cultivation in the city.

The 7-0 vote gives Santa Rosa local control over medical marijuana cultivation rather than adhere to provisions of a state law that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in October.

Local governments have until March 1 to ban medical marijuana in their jurisdictions or draft their own cultivation regulations, although state legislators have said tht deadline was mistakenly included as a holdover from previous drafts of the bill Brown signed into law.

The Santa Rosa Planning and Economic Development departments and City Attorney's Office had recommended that the City Council temporarily ban commercial cannabis cultivation until Sept. 1. City staff would then bring back an alternative ordinance to the City Council that would retain local control.

The Council instead designated general commercial, light industrial and general industrial zones as sites for cultivation. City staff were instructed to explore allowing cultivation also in manufacturing and business park zones.

The Planning Commission would hold public hearings before cultivation is allowed in any of the zones.

A subcommittee comprised of three council members unanimously agreed not to ban cultivation. Two members of the City Council, Ernesto Olivares and Tom Schwedhelm, are former police officers. Schwedhelm was the city's former police chief.

The city's regulations do not apply to private cultivation of marijuana.