California judge protects will of voters by allowing home cultivation under marijuana legalization initiative

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On November 8, 2016, the people of California voted in favor of Prop. 64, which allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and cultivate up to six marijuana plants at their private residence away from public view.  Despite these protections a number of localities have adopted overly restrictive ordinances aimed at severely limiting this provision of Prop. 64.

On November 2, the San Bernardino Superior Court struck down the bulk of the City of Fontana’s ordinance in a lawsuit brought by the Drug Policy Alliance and the ACLU on behalf of Mike Harris, a medical marijuana patient wishing to cultivate marijuana for his own use inside his home. Fontana’s ordinance required residents to register with the City, undergo a criminal background check, open their home to city officials for inspection, and pay a high fee before obtaining a permit.  It also excluded entire categories of people, such as those with certain prior convictions from obtaining a permit.

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Statement from Tamar Todd, legal director for the Drug Policy Alliance: “Fontana’s ordinance was designed to deter its residents from engaging in legal conduct under state law. We are relieved that the Court’s order will now allow the protections of Prop. 64 and the will of the California voters to be realized.”

Statement of William Freeman, Senior Counsel of the ACLU Foundation of Northern California:  “Growing marijuana for personal use shouldn’t be reserved solely for the wealthy residents of a city. We are pleased that Fontana’s harsh permit restrictions have been struck down and hope this ruling will serve as a reminder to other cities that are trying to put unfair restrictions on state law or criminalize what Prop. 64 legalized.”

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