Friday, September 25, 2015

Signs of Cultivation

The heart of Chapter 5.72 of the Grants Pass Municipal Code is:
“2.   All cultivation, curing, drying, storage, production, or processing of marijuana shall be conducted indoors…”
3.  Cultivation, production, processing or storage of marijuana shall not be perceptible from the exterior of the household, housing unit, and/or indoor structure including but not limited to:
“a. Common visual observation, which would prohibit any form of signage;
“b. Odors, smells, fragrances, or other olfactory stimulus;
“c. Light pollution, glare or brightness that disturbs the repose of another;
“d. Undue vehicular or foot traffic, including excess parking within a residential zone; and
“e. Excessive noise that disturbs the repose of another in violation of GPMC 5.12.110.”
          Keep in mind that the definition of “Indoors” in this ordinance does not mean “in your house.”  It means in a highly secure structure with lockable doors and no windows, as glass can easily be broken into, and plastic or similar materials, no matter how thick, make it not “indoors.”  See “Intent and Purpose of Nuisance Code 5.72”.
          Any of the above signs of cultivation and more are grounds for a search warrant to see if you are actually cultivating.  If you are, then you are in violation of the ordinance, because they were able to tell by the signs.  If not, you have had your privacy invaded for no reason except nosiness.   Don’t expect them to apologize.
Loud party?  Send the cops to search the place!  Any kind of gathering?  Excessive traffic and excessive parking!  Security lights?  An obvious sign that you are trying to deter pot thieves!  A skunk sprays near your yard?  The stink of pot; call the cops!
          But the most interesting one is “Common visual observation.”  Thieves pay attention, read newspapers, and sometimes even read the law.  Board up windows on a room in an attempt to make it “indoors” and it will show anyone who pays attention that you may be growing pot in that room.  Build a special "indoor" structure complying with this code in your backyard, complete with permits and fees, and some thief could target it, maybe even invade your house to make you unlock it.  Call the cops about it, and you will be cited because thieves could tell that you were growing pot!
          What happens if you are cited? 
“5.72.040 Public Nuisance Remedy
     “A.  Any household, housing unit, premises, property, building, structure, or place of any kind where medical or homegrown marijuana is grown, processed, manufactured, bartered, distributed, or given away in violation of state law or this chapter, or any place where medical or homegrown marijuana is kept or possessed for sale, barter, distribution, or gift in violation of state law or this chapter, is a public nuisance per Chapter 8.04.
B.     “In addition to the foregoing, two or more violations in a 30-day period may be deemed a Chronic Nuisance Property subject to provisions of Chapter 5.12.
    “ C.  In addition to any remedies provided in Chapters (sic) 5.12, the City may institute an action in municipal or circuit court in the name of the City to abate, and to temporarily and permanently enjoin such nuisance.  The court has the right to make temporary and final orders as in other injunction proceedings.  The City shall not be required to give bond for such action.
“5.72.050 Violation
“In addition to treatment as a nuisance, all violations of this title are subject to punishment under the general penalty provisions in Chapter 1.16. (sic—actually 1.36)  Each day in which a violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.”
            They will declare your property a public nuisance.  Notice will be posted on your property.  If they cite you again within a month, it will be declared a Chronic Nuisance.  Talk about signs of cultivation! 
To have it removed, you must show that the nuisance has been abated (pull your plants and invite the cops into your growing space to show they are gone).   The code says that you have ten days to do this, but every day it exists is a separate violation.  Or you can say that no nuisance exists, and take it to the City Council.  This will take weeks, and every day is a separate violation.  The fine for those daily violations can be up to $720 per day.
It’s like the Grants Pass City Council watched what has been happening in Ferguson, Missouri, with poor blacks being persecuted with fines, and they want some of that kind of revenue action from their favorite whipping boy, pot smokers who grow their own.  But they got this idea from Ashland and Medford, and our city attorney probably copied at least parts of their ordinances, if not the whole thing.  This town is not original about new laws.
It doesn’t pay to take the word of cops and city staff about the provisions of any new ordinance.  You have to read it, not once but several times, to understand what they are trying to do.  This one is about continuing the war on pot by city code, in the name of protecting pot thieves from their own worst impulses, by punishing their victims.
Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040