Proposition 64 was passed by the California voters on November 8, 2016. Proposition 64 legalized recreational use of marijuana for persons 21 and older, as of January 1, 2018. Marijuana use remains illegal in public places; where smoking tobacco is prohibited; within 1,000 feet of schools, day care, or youth center; and while driving or riding in a car.
City Land Use and Cultivation Regulation
State law allows cities to regulate and/or prohibit commercial marijuana businesses, medical marijuana dispensaries, and outdoor marijuana cultivation. The City has prohibited all of these uses by local ordinance.
Consistent with the new state law, the City only allows personal cultivation of up to six marijuana plants in a private residence, or associated accessory structure. In March of 2017, the City of Elk Grove made changes to its Municipal Code (Chapter 23.83) to impose regulations on personal indoor marijuana cultivation and clarify permissible land uses. The City's regulations include the following:
- Marijuana may not be cultivated or accessible to persons under 21 years of age
- Commercial cultivation, testing, or retail sale of marijuana within the City of Elk Grove is prohibited
- Indoor personal cultivation of marijuana is limited to no more than six marijuana plants per residence
- The person cultivating marijuana must be a full-time resident at the location where the marijuana is being grown
- All outdoor cultivation of marijuana is prohibited in the City of Elk Grove
- Personal cultivation is only permitted in a private residence or associated accessory structure
- No marijuana growing operation can be constructed in violation of applicable codes governing structures, including the City Zoning Code, the Building Code, Electrical Code, and Fire Code
- Grow lighting in excess of 1,200 watts per residence is prohibited
- Indoor use of generators or gas products in the cultivation activity is prohibited
- Personal cultivation performed in a residence must be done in a manner that does not alter the primary use of any kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom
- Private residences or accessory structures in which the marijuana is cultivated must be locked except when in use
- Cultivation activity cannot be visible from the public right-of way
- Marijuana cultivation in any rented residence is prohibited without express consent of the owner
- Emission of odors in violation of the City's Code is prohibited
More than Six Plants is Still Illegal
State and local law still make it illegal to violate the six marijuana plant allowances. Violations of these laws are subject to administrative, civil, and criminal penalties. The Elk Grove Police Department and Elk Grove Code Enforcement Division coordinate the investigation of possible marijuana violations and may pursue prosecutions of violations, which could include imprisonment, fines, and/or civil liability.
Marijuana is Still Illegal under Federal Law
Marijuana remains an illegal controlled substance under the Federal Controlled Substance Act. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal to use or possess, and there is no federally accepted medical use. As a matter of policy, the federal government has chosen not to enforce the Federal Controlled Substance Act against medical marijuana users for those states allowing medical marijuana, including California, provided the user complies strictly with state medical marijuana laws. No such federal prosecution exemption applies for non-medical, recreational use of marijuana. Acting in compliance with state marijuana laws does not necessarily insulate you from prosecution under federal law.
Spotting a Marijuana Grow House
There is a difference between those abiding by the indoor cultivation laws and an illegal growing operation. A marijuana grow house is a house which has been significantly physically altered to produce marijuana beyond that allowed by law. These alterations include tapping into the electric lines in order to steal electricity, attaching filtering devices to hide the skunky-scent produced by marijuana plants, or installing high-wattage lights which can be a fire hazard. Typically, large scale sophisticated marijuana grow houses are linked to organized crime. Organized crime rings purchase or rent a house and buy the equipment required to grow the marijuana. The harvested marijuana is then sold on the streets with the profit going back into the criminal organization. Marijuana grow operations can be located in any rural, urban or industrial area. Indications of an illegal growing operation include:
- The house does not appear lived in. Someone occasionally enters the residence, but only stays for short period of times.
- Activity inside the house seems to take place at odd hours. Items are moved in and out of the residence at odd times.
- The exterior appearance of the property is not cared for on a regular basis.
- Persons often back into the garage and enter the house this way.
- Garbage is minimal and may contain used soil and plant material.
- Windows are constantly covered with dark sheets, plastic, or other opaque materials.
- Bright light can be seen escaping from windows.
- Windows are often covered with condensation.
- Sounds of interior construction may be heard.
- Timers may be set inside the residence.
- The area around the property may have a strong skunk- like odor.
- Items being brought into the house include soil, planters, fans and large lights.
- Garbage bags are being taken out of the house and transported away.
Reporting a Violation
The City of Elk Grove strives to maintain a high quality of life for our residents and businesses, all consistent with state and local law. If you suspect a violation, you can report it to the City for investigation through any of the following contacts:
Elk Grove Police Department Tip Line: (916) 627-3333
Elk Grove Code Enforcement Line: (916) 687-3023
Ask Elk Grove: (916) 691-CITY (2489)
Disclaimer: This information is provided here is for general information purposes only and to permit you to learn more about this topic. The information presented is not legal advice or representation from the City, is not to be acted or relied upon as such, may not be current in light of changing laws, and is subject to change without notice. The City encourages you to conduct your own independent research and analysis into the topics addressed herein. If you have any questions concerning this topic, the City encourages you to seek legal advice from an attorney of your choosing. The City Attorney's Office represents City officials and staff and cannot provide private legal advice to private individuals or entities.