Longmont City Council to revisit proposed regulations about marijuana home grows

If You GoWhat: Longmont City Council regular meetingWhen: 7 p.m. Tuesday Where: Civic Center council chambers, 350 Kimbark St., LongmontMore information: The full agenda for the meeting, including information about the proposed ordinance regulating home growing...

Longmont City Council to revisit proposed regulations about marijuana home grows

If You Go

What: Longmont City Council regular meeting

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Civic Center council chambers, 350 Kimbark St., Longmont

More information: The full agenda for the meeting, including information about the proposed ordinance regulating home growing of marijuana for personal medical or recreational use, is available at bit.ly/2l5qKSY.

Longmont's City Council on Tuesday night is to resume consideration of the city staff's latest proposals for regulating the home growing of marijuana — and the production and processing of marijuana products — for medical or recreational use.

Based on council discussions at several meetings last year, along with comments and suggestions that the city got from an online survey last fall and a community forum on Oct. 22, a draft ordinance up for consideration on Tuesday would allow the growing, production and processing of marijuana and marijuana products on a property where the recreational or medical user's primary residence is located.

The city staff also has met with representatives of the medical marijuana community.

Longmont has no limits in its current municipal code of how many plants can be grown inside a residential unit.

The proposed ordinance would allow more than six plants per person in the residence, up to a maximum of 30 plants per dwelling unit — recognizing another provision in the current city code that allows five unrelated people to live together in a single dwelling unit, whether that be a single-family house or a unit in a multiple-family structure.

Longmont Senior Planner Erin Fosdick said, "It's probably unlikely that there would be" many instances of 30 plants growing in residential unit.

Fosdick said that one of the major changes from the home growing restrictions proposed last year is that the latest draft of the proposed ordinance includes provisions with exemptions from that six-plant-per-person limit, in the cases of medical marijuana patients and medical-marijuana primary caregivers growing plants for a number of patients.

The draft measure now up for Longmont council consideration would allow a state-registered medical marijuana patient to have more than six plants, if that's consistent with the physician's recommendation for how many plants required to produce the amount of pot or pot-infused products to treat the patient's condition.

A state-registered primary medical marijuana caregiver would be allowed to grow more than six plants, with the number to be based on the total plant counts needed by that caregiver's currently assigned patients.

The city staff's memo for Tuesday's council meeting estimated that there are about 415 medical marijuana patients in Longmont with "extended plant counts" that would exceed the six-plants-per-person amount that otherwise would apply to home grows.

As in previous drafts of the proposed ordinance, an odor-mitigation provision in the latest version would state that the smell of marijuana being cultivated, produced or processed should not be detectable from an adjacent property by "a person with reasonable and ordinary sensibilities."

The city staff said in its memo that while there have been discussions of how odors would be measured, and whether it was too nebulous, the "reasonable person standard" is used in many other communities and already is in place in other sections of Longmont's code.

Longmont's code enforcement officers are trained in applying that standard, the staff wrote the council.

People growing or processing marijuana on a rental residential property — whether that's being done inside the primary residence or an accessory building on the same property — would need written and notarized permission from the property's owner. No marijuana could be grown or processed within the common areas of a multi-family or attached residential unit, unless the would-be grower or product maker has written, notarized permission from the property owner and all of the property's other current tenants.

The residential marijuana growers and processors would have to comply with all of Longmont's other applicable building, fire, plumbing and mechanical codes.

Anyone violating the restrictions in the home-grow ordinance — if that person disobeys a city order to end or correct the violation — would face a $500 civil penalty for a first offense, a $750 fine for a second offense within 12 months' time and a $999 fine for a third or subsequent offense in 12 months' time. Each day or part of a day any violation occurs would be considered a separate offense.

Fosdick said that as with other parts of the city code, enforcement of the residential marijuana growing rules would primarily be on a complaint basis when the city is alerted to possible violations.

If the City Council gives preliminary approval to the staff-proposed draft home-grow ordinance on Tuesday — including possible revisions the council may make to it — a public hearing on the measure may be scheduled for March 21.

John Fryar: 303-684-5211, jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc

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