The cultivation and sale of marijuana for any purpose is now illegal within the city of Turlock, after the City Council unanimously approved a set of cannabis-related ordinances on Tuesday.
Despite numerous pleas from Turlock citizens to allow the cultivation of cannabis plants for personal medical uses, the Council decided to move forward with the prohibitions in order to prevent future issues that might arise related to the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year.
The Act sets up a state licensing process for commercial medical marijuana uses. Local cities and counties can prohibit these activities in their jurisdictions, however, they must enact such prohibitions by March 15, 2016.
"What we hope to achieve is to preserve our local control and protect the quality of life we have in our neighborhoods in Turlock," said Deputy Director of Development Services Debra Whitmore, who presented the City staff report on the prohibitions.
Turlock has had a ban on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city limits since 2007, and the City excluded from the zoning ordinance the cultivation of marijuana as an agricultural crop in April.
The new prohibitions include the cultivation of cannabis plants for personal medical marijuana use, something that was addressed by a number of citizens who spoke out against the prohibitions at Tuesday's Council meeting.
Lindsay Sexton, a 17-year-old ovarian cancer patient, addressed the City Council stating that the concentrated cannabis oils she takes under the supervision of Lakisha Jenkins, a doctor of Naturopathy, has helped minimize the negative effects of her chemotherapy treatments and allowed her to have a better quality of life.
"I would not be able to stand up here to plead my case if I didn't use these medicinal oils," said Sexton. "These oils are helping me be so much more than just the cancer."
Other citizens like David Halinga, who was injured on the job, rely on the cannabis plants he grows for medical marijuana use to alleviate his chronic pain.
"There's a lot of us that need it. I'm just looking for an affordable way and natural way to keep my quality of life up."
Council member Steven Nascimento stated that the purpose of the ordinances was to protect the City legally and that a discussion about the cultivation of marijuana for personal medical use could be had in the future.
"Personally, I appreciate all of you sharing your stories. Where the ordinance lacks is where it pertains to personal use. The cancer patient with six plants in their back yard isn't what I'm concerned about," said Nascimento.
Councilman Bill DeHart echoed Nascimento's sentiments.
"Many of us have been touched with the C-word and with the P-word, pain...What we're dealing with are the unintended consequences of poorly thought out legislation," said DeHart.
The Council voted 5-0 to approve the cannabis prohibitions, but Mayor Gary Soiseth stated that a workshop would be held after the holidays to discuss possible amendments regarding the growing of cannabis plants for personal medical uses.