Burbank may soon allow marijuana cultivation for recreational use

Recreational marijuana users in Burbank may soon be able to cultivate their own plants at home.

The Burbank City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to approve the first reading of an ordinance that would amend the city’s ordinance that oversees the use of cannabis to better align with state law.

The proposed changes to the ordinance, which are expected to come back to the City Council on Nov. 14 for a second reading, would allow Burbank residents to grow up to six marijuana plants at one time on their property to use for recreational use, said Daniel Villa, an associate planner with the city’s Community Development Department.

Residents growing and maintaining the plants would need to be 21 years old or older, Villa said.

Additionally, the proposed modifications would clarify that residents who are growing marijuana for medical use can also have no more than six plants on their property.

The city’s current rules, which were approved by the City Council in January 2016, allow medical users to grow plants for their use, but Villa said they do not state how many plants users could have.

Villa said the proposed amendments would also refer to all establishments that sell marijuana products as retailers, not as dispensaries as they have been called before.

City staff had suggested the cultivation of marijuana should only be done inside a home, but some residents expressed concerns about making that a requirement.

Resident Larry Fioritto said that limiting the growth of marijuana indoors would require that people spend additional money on grow lights, ventilation and increased electricity bills.

Villa said state law allows the growth of marijuana outside of someone’s private residence as long as it is out of public view.

He added that city staff opted to take a conservative approach when addressing where the plants can be grown.

State law also allows those living in apartments to grow marijuana outdoors if they have access to a balcony, Villa said.

During the November 2016 election, California voters approved Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years old and older. Since then, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 94, also known as the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, which set forth rules on the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana.

Though the proposed amendments would allow people to grow their own marijuana for personal use, Villa said the changes do not affect the city’s regulations on the commercial sale of the drug.

Currently, Burbank’s laws prohibit all commercial activities relating to marijuana, which include deliveries, opening a business to sell cannabis and cultivation for resale.

Although the proposed amendments were brought forward to update the city’s marijuana regulations, they also led to a conversation about the effectiveness of the drug for medical uses.

Resident Mary Kellerman told council members she had been using medical marijuana since she was diagnosed 18 months ago with gastroparesis, a condition in which the stomach does not allow a person to digest food properly.

She said doctors had given her various medications to combat the symptoms, but nothing worked until she started taking cannabidiol, or CBD oil, which calmed her stomach.

“It helps with the pain, and it helps with the discomfort,” Kellerman said. “There’s this constant pit in my stomach unless I use this CBD drop.”

Mayor Will Rogers, who recently announced he has stage 4 liver cancer, concurred with Kellerman, saying he has also been prescribed different medications to treat his illness, but they suppress his appetite.

Rogers said he has smoked marijuana when he becomes severely nauseous and to help bring back his appetite as he undergoes treatments.

“It is a miracle when you feel you’re about to vomit in the next minute, and you take two puffs and it’s gone,” Rogers said. “It’s not only gone, but you want to eat again … It really is a miracle.”

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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