Commercial cannabis legal in California yet still banned in Chico

Samuel+Monteon+held+a+booth+for+his+new+organization+Chico+Cannabis+Club+at+the+Women%27s+March+last+Saturday.+Photo+courtesy+of+Samuel+Monteon
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Commercial cannabis legal in California yet still banned in Chico

Samuel Monteon held a booth for his new organization Chico Cannabis Club at the Women's March last Saturday. Photo courtesy of Samuel Monteon

Samuel Monteon held a booth for his new organization Chico Cannabis Club at the Women's March last Saturday. Photo courtesy of Samuel Monteon

Samuel Monteon held a booth for his new organization Chico Cannabis Club at the Women's March last Saturday. Photo courtesy of Samuel Monteon

Samuel Monteon held a booth for his new organization Chico Cannabis Club at the Women's March last Saturday. Photo courtesy of Samuel Monteon

Alex Grant

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Less than a month ago recreational cannabis became legal in California, however for many counties and cities like Butte and Chico, commercial marijuana restrictions went into effect.

Last November, Chico’s city council voted 4-3 in favor of adopting Ordinance 2505. This ordinance added a “Cannabis Regulations” chapter to the Chico Municipal Code which essentially banned commercial marijuana in the city limits, but allowed for personal indoor marijuana grows.

Deputy Director of the Community Development Department Brendan Vieg said that while Prop 64 legalized cannabis, local city councils around the state decided on how accessible cannabis would be.

Brendan Vieg, deputy director of the community development department. City of Chico’s website photo

“(California) provided a framework where there needs to be access to recreational and medical marijuana. How that’s provided, how open that spigot it is, is determined at the local level,” Vieg said. “(The city of Chico) couldn’t have said that there’s no ability for personal grows, we had to have that allowance but that’s about it.”

Vieg also noted that while there are currently medical marijuana delivery services that deliver into Chico, these delivery services have never been allowed within city limits.

“There were no allowances and therefore no commercial cannabis activity in (Chico, but the city) allowed for personal growing of marijuana outdoors and indoors,” Vieg said. “Our land use development regulations didn’t allow for (commercial cannabis) use.”

Despite these city jurisdictions, there are currently 28 medical marijuana delivery services listed in the Chico area on weedmaps.com. However, these commercial cannabis deliveries are actually forced to be based outside of Butte County.

Due to legal concerns within the city, some delivery services have already closed down. Fire Pharmaceuticals owner Samuel Monteon, recently shut down his collective and started the Chico Cannabis Association to help advocate for safe and reasonable cannabis access.

“There’s never been an explicit ban on cannabis deliveries to (Chico) residents,” Monteon said, “However, cannabis is not listed as a specific land use in the Chico municipal code and that is the argument that the city council is using to say that a ban is implied.”

John Main, owner of a medical marijuana delivery service called NorCal Medicine Man, believes that Chico’s city council is violating the Compassionate Use Act part of Proposition 215 by preventing “safe and affordable” access to medicinal marijuana.

“I honestly could care less if recreational was allowed in Butte County, the thing that is important to me is that we’re able to continue to deliver to all of our members who are medical cannabis patients,” Main said. “(City council members) have no right to stop safe access to our medical patients.”

Chico Mayor Sean Morgan disagreed with Main’s stance and stated in an email that if people have issues with local cannabis bans than they should lobby to change federal cannabis laws.

Sean Morgan stands against marijuana until it’s not considered a schedule one drug. Photo courtesy of Sean Morgan

“I don’t dispute a medical patient saying they get relief from marijuana. What needs to happen is Congress needs to act to change marijuana from a schedule one narcotic to something that is legal and legally prescribable,” Morgan stated. “Medical users upset with the banning of all but in-home grows have a dispute with Congress and that’s who they should lobby.”

Alex Grant can be reached at [email protected] or @AlexThomasGrant on Twitter.

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