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City of Visalia's Medical Marijuana Ordinance In Effect

The ordinance prohibits "medical marijuana dispensaries" and "medical marijuana businesses".  Whichever term is used, it is defined as a "facility or location, whether fixed or mobile, where marijuana is cultivated, made available, and/or distributed by or to three or more persons within the following categories:
 - a primary caregiver;
 - a qualified patient;
 - a patient with an identification card, as those terms are defined in Health and Safety Code sections 11362.5 and 11362.7 et seq. as such sections may be amended from time to time". 

The ordinance also establishes revised standards for personal cultivation and consumption of marijuana for medical purposes consistent with the Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215, approved by California voters in 1996) and the Medical Marijuana Program (Senate Bill 420, enacted 2004.  The ordinance includes a list of standards to be applied to locations where personal use and cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes is proposed to occur (see Ordinance Sections 5 & 6, page 4).  These standards include, but are not limited to:

  • Use and consumption of medical marijuana is allowed inside a private residence only, and no smoke or odor may be detected from any neighboring property or residence.
  • Cultivation can occur in Single Family Residential (R-1) and Agricultural (A) zones only.
  • Cultivation must occur in a fully enclosed and secured structure with solid walls and roof, but not in any living space.
  • The structure and related improvements must meet all zoning and building standards including, but not limited to, yard setbacks, height restrictions, and California building and fire code requirements and permitting.
  • Maximum allowable area dedicated to cultivation shall be 100 square feet per parcel.
  • Any person cultivating between 10 and 100 square feet of medical marijuana must obtain a building safety inspection every three months to confirm compliance with these standards and must pay inspection fees based on actual inspection costs as established by the City Council.
  • The person responsible for cultivating must provide evidence of qualification to conduct marijuana cultivation as required by state law.
These standards are intended to assure that a reasonable level of personal use and cultivation of medical marijuana is conducted in a manner compatible with residential neighborhoods.   

The ordinance is also clear in that it is not intended to legalize activity that is otherwise unlawful.  If state law is amended to make personal cultivation and use unlawful, then nothing in the ordinance would separately permit it.  Similarly, if it is determined that federal law prohibiting all marijuana use preempts state law on this issue, the Visalia ordinance regulating such activity would not have any effect and would be similarly preempted.

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