Sunday, January 10, 2016

We are all living “outdoors” in Grants Pass

We are all living “outdoors” in Grants Pass, according to the definition of “indoors” in the Homegrown and Medical Marijuana nuisance code Chapter 5.72.  It disallows windows, without even saying the word:

“Indoors/Indoor Structure” means within a fully enclosed and secure structure that complies with the Oregon Residential Specialty Code (ORSC) or Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC) as adopted by the City of Grants Pass, which has a complete roof enclosure supported by connecting walls extending from the foundation/slab to the roof.  The structure must be secure against unauthorized entry, accessible only through one or more lockable doors, and constructed of solid materials that cannot easily be broken through, such as 2X4 or larger wood studs covered with 3/8” or thicker weather-resistant siding or equivalent materials.  Plastic sheeting, regardless of gauge, or similar products, do not satisfy this requirement.”

This definition makes the “meat” of the ordinance deceptive, as people rarely read definitions, which are usually fairly obvious and at least fairly close to common usage.  I know of no residences that have no windows.  And yet, when the Daily Courier told us about this ordinance, it said only that greenhouses are not allowed.  And one of our City Councilors said that we can grow a plant in the corner of our dining room.

But even if we build the special grow house contemplated in this definition, which requires permits, fees, and electricians like our mayor to safely set up all the lights, fans, and filters needed to grow indoors and keep all odor inside, we run afoul of the forbidden signs of cultivation:

5.72.030  Homegrown and Medical Marijuana Subject to Regulation:
A.   Marijuana cultivators shall be allowed to cultivate, produce, or process homegrown marijuana and medical marijuana subject to the following conditions:
1.   Cultivation, production, processing or storage of marijuana must be in full compliance with all applicable provisions of OMMA and Measure 91.
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;”

One needs only to read or hear about the definition above to realize by “common visual observation” that a new, solidly built, windowless building in a residential yard is likely a grow house, and is thus a sign of cultivation for thieves, who often pay more attention to the law than people who would obey it.  Far from keeping your pot safe from thieves, it opens you to home-invasion robbery year-round to get the keys to the grow house where all the pot must be grown, processed and stored, rather than simply sneaking into your back yard to steal some buds just before harvest. 
It’s like building a giant, wooden safe in your yard and daring thieves to break in.  Faced with such a rich prize, some might choose the easy, quiet way of making you hand over the key.  If you report pot theft, the police will cite you for letting your cultivation show.

But this provision is just the beginning of the mischief in this ordinance.  It continues:

“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.”

Police would come into your yard to verify odor or lack thereof coming from your house, requiring a search warrant anytime a neighbor complains about security lights, which can be disturbing to a neighbor’s repose; “undue” traffic and “excess” parking; or excessive noise, like loud music or laughter, or a barking dog. 

It appears that justifying search warrants is the main purpose of this ordinance.  Any of these ordinary annoyances can be used to check to see if you are growing in your house, after checking your backyard to see if pot is being grown in the light of the sun.  Even so, they have to check to see if it is being processed or stored in a place secure enough to be considered “indoors.”  While doing so, they must check to see if you are obeying the possession limits in the homegrown exception to Measure 91’s licensing rules or medical marijuana rules.  They’ll tear your house apart to find your pot and pot products and weigh them.

Fortunately, our legislature protected homegrowers from this ridiculous ordinance before we ever passed Measure 91, by reserving the regulation of seed crops and their products to the state, when they passed Senate Bill 863 in 2013, which forbids local government or their voters from enacting or enforcing local laws that inhibit or prevent the production of seed crops.  SB 863 was codified as ORS 633.733, its legislative intent, and ORS 633.738, the “meat” of the Seed Bill. 

Answering my lawsuit against the city’s ordinance, the city’s lawyers have said that the Seed Bill is only about GMOs, since it was inspired by Jackson County’s GMO ban, which was circulating for the ballot at the time.  They ignore its legislative intent, spelled out in ORS 633.733.  That’s because they are unable to show any permission in state law to regulate unlicensed homegrown marijuana.

Section 89 of House Bill 3400 (2015) amended the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act to allow local governments to “reasonably” regulate medical marijuana in particular ways.  But the above provisions are not reasonable, starting with their definition of “indoors,” and this code has no relation to the permissions given in HB 3400.

January 8, 2016 protest leaflet.  Published on GardenGrantsPass.blogspot.com.  Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/grants-pass-city-manager-aaron-cubic-leave-pot-growers-alone-target-litter-and-weeds.
Read the ordinance at http://gardengrantspass.blogspot.com/2015/09/chapter-572-homegrown-and-medical.html
Support the lawsuit at www.GoFundMe.com/HomegrownDefense 

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040        rycke@gardener.com