Walnut Blows the Whistle on Weed

Walnut Blows the Whistle on Weed

The Walnut City Council passed an ordinance restricting the growth and use of marijuana to the fullest extent that new laws allow them at their regularly scheduled council meeting on March 22.

The newly-established regulations for marijuana in the city restrict usage to being allowed only privately indoors, not to be commercialized and to not be distributed for recreational use. This means any use of marijuana on or around campus is subject to being reported and possible punitive action.

“No dispensary activity will be allowed,” Derrick Womble, Senior Management Analyst, told the Walnut City Council on Wednesday, March 22. “Per state law, it does allow for use in a closed structure, though will not be sold or distributed here in the city.”

Womble referred to Proposition 64, known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which California voters approved back in November. That proposition went into effect on November 9, the day after it was approved.

Walnut, however, had banned all weed “cultivation, processing, delivery and dispensaries within City limits” back in January 2016 after Governor Jerry Brown signed the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA).

Now that the AUMA has allowed for Californians who are over the age of 21 to use marijuana recreationally – including provisions for the commercial sale of recreational marijuana beginning January 2018 – and allowed for the personal cultivation of up to six plants, the city wants to see that it maintains its reputation as a polished community.

This desire to avoid cannabis culture overall is best reflected in the text of the ordinance the council passed.

“The council finds that regulations on marijuana are necessary for the preservation and protection of public health, safety, and welfare for the City and its community.”

The six marijuana plants per private residence allowed under the AUMA must be grown within an enclosed building due to the prohibition of all outdoor cultivation, which notes that no permit or other entitlement will be approved allowing someone to grow marijuana outside of their private residence.

Mayor Eric Ching asked of the specific number of plants allowed per residence, “Residents should call the sheriff’s department on neighbors growing above the six plants?”

“Yes, we prohibit all activity to the extent the law would allow,” Womble replied.

In accordance with AUMA, the city of Walnut will not permit anybody to “smoke or ingest marijuana or marijuana products in any public space, within one thousand feet of schools or youth centers, or while driving or riding in any vehicles for transportation.”

Even though the AUMA required that the state develop a system for licensing commercial marijuana dispensaries, the bill left to individual cities the question of whether they would issue business licenses to these dispensaries. By passing this ordinance, the Walnut City Council answered that question, prohibiting all commercial marijuana business within city limits.

The ordinance was passed, approved, and adopted by the council after Mayor Ching looked to his left and right at fellow council members, saying, “I would vote three times in favor!”

Under the new ordinance, violations of Walnut’s new laws on weed were declared a public nuisance which might result in being “deemed guilty of a misdemeanor or an infraction.” Those found guilty could be fined up to $1,000 and possibly thrown in prison.

One Mt. SAC student, who did not want to be identified due to his connection with the use of marijuana, said that while he disagrees with the ordinance, he also understands why the council passed it.

“I mean, I think it’s pretty stupid. I’d rather come home to my kids smelling like weed than smelling like cigarettes if it came down to it,” he said. “But Walnut is a pretty clean cut city, and I can see why they probably don’t want the weed business to expand and attract sketchy characters. I don’t really blame them.”

The ordinance is to take effect 30 days after the date of its final passage.