Norwalk moves forward with plan to limit outdoor marijuana cultivation

With the passage of Proposition 64, the Planning Commission is recommending the City Council place stricter bans on marijuana.  Photo | Dank Depot (Flickr)

With the passage of Proposition 64, the Planning Commission is recommending the City Council place stricter bans on marijuana.  Photo | Dank Depot (Flickr)

NORWALK – The Norwalk Planning Commission unanimously voted to amend an existing municipal code to expressly prohibit the commercial non-medical marijuana activity and outdoor non-medical marijuana cultivation at private residences.

The vote was a 3-0 decision, with Chairman Scott Collins exempting himself due to conflict of interest, and Vice Chair Victor Juan being absent.

With the passage of Proposition 64 – the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act – cities are allowed to decide whether and how to allow non-medical marijuana related business activity, including cultivation, processing, and retail sales.

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Currently, the city prohibits medical marijuana dispensaries, commercial medical marijuana activity, and cultivation, whether personal or commercial, within every zone of the city.
Wednesday’s amendment would expand the prohibition to include commercial marijuana activity and outdoor cultivation at private residences.

Photo | Mark (Flickr Creative Commons)

Photo | Mark (Flickr Creative Commons)

While marijuana often times is a hot bed of debate, an outsider looking into Wednesday’s meeting might not have been able to tell, due to the almost entirely empty city chambers.

Speaking to a reporter after the meeting’s conclusion, Commissioner Rosa Barragan hinted that the apparent lack of public interest may play a big roll in the way that both the Commission – and eventually, the City Council – votes on controversial issues.

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“I think there was already discussion and it was open to the public. As you can see it’s an empty chambers,” said Barragan. “When it’s an empty chamber and the constituents do not come to speak, then we make a decision…”

“You have to remember that us as commissioners, our job is only to advise…maybe then the constituents can come out, because it kind of ties our hands as an advisory body when the constituents and the people are not here to speak, because other than that then we just have to make our decisions based on our experience with the community,” she said.

The Commission’s decision is not final, but merely a suggestion for City Council to decide on at a later date.

Staff expects that the prohibition to come to the council around August 1.

- By Alex Dominguez, staff writer

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