Opinion: Time to control marijuana odor in South Tahoe

By Steve Kubby

A citywide voter initiative to control marijuana odor and set rules for cultivation was filed Dec. 29 with the city clerk. The city attorney has 15 days to issue a Title and Summary so the signature gathering process can begin.

The new initiative requires 856 valid voter signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.

Steve Kubby

When people come to South Lake Tahoe, they expect to smell pine trees and fresh air. Odor from marijuana cultivation has a negative effect on visitors’ experience and on property values, which should not be tolerated in a residential setting. Responsible marijuana growers control their odor emissions out of respect for their neighbors and out of the need for security from home invasions. This initiative will make the abatement of marijuana odor an enforcement priority.

Unfortunately, frustrated and frightened patients who are trying to comply with the current South Lake Tahoe Cultivation Ordinance are finding that it is impossible to get their landlords to sign notarized letters giving permission for them to grow — even though they already know and allow their tenants to do so. Apparently, landlords are reluctant to sign something that would incriminate them for violating federal law and the Controlled Substance Act.

Patients must also register in public records that they are growing, a clear violation of their Fifth Amendment rights. Too bad if the city decides you are not in compliance, their ordinance allows them to publish patient’s name and fine them $1,000 per day. As a result, few patients have registered and now live in terrible fear that the city will raid them, cut off their power and turn their lives upside down.

The current cultivation ordinance punishes bona fide patients by creating expensive and difficult barriers to rights already granted to them by the voters of California. In contrast, the city rewards illegal growers, because nearly anyone can qualify, provided they have enough money and time to jump through all the hoops, give their landlords money under the table, and get a medical recommendation for the right price.

Under the current system that was adopted, illegal growers and out-of-towners will be flocking to the city of South Lake Tahoe by the thousands, something none of us wants.

It is not the job of the City Council to serve as property managers. That is the legal responsibility of property owners and rental property managers. It is their responsibility to clearly spell out the terms of their lease, to screen their potential tenants and perform whatever inspections are required to maintain their property. Absentee owners should take responsibility and hire a local property manager. If tenants are in violation of their lease, then owners and managers have ample legal remedies ranging from eviction to civil and even criminal actions in court.

It is also not the job of the City Council to thwart state law and the will of the voters. Medical marijuana patients have legal rights. This voter initiative will ensure that the rights and privacy of patients is respected, while marijuana odor is brought under control and illegal growers are no longer protected by the City of South Lake Tahoe.

The South Lake Tahoe Marijuana Odor Control and Cultivation Ordinance

The People of the City of South Lake Tahoe, California, do enact as follows:

Section A. Purpose and Finding

The People of the City of South Lake Tahoe find that marijuana cultivation in homes can create a number of problems that need to be addressed. Number one among these issues is the odor of marijuana plants, which many people find offensive. At the same time, bona fide medical marijuana patients and caregivers find themselves facing a new city ordinance which creates difficult, expensive, illegal procedures and barriers to rights already granted to them by the People of California. As a result, many patients cannot comply and now live in fear, while the more pressing issue of marijuana odor goes ignored. This initiative is intended to make marijuana cultivation odor abatement the key issue, while leaving matters occurring within a dwelling up to owners, landlords, their lease agreements and existing real estate law.

Section B. Orders

(1) Odor from the cultivation of marijuana is hereby deemed a serious problem within our city and any complaint of odor issues should be investigated and acted upon.

(2) Any property or dwelling which is found to be emitting marijuana cultivation odors should be tagged on the front door or gate, with a notice that odor has been detected, and the city requests appropriate actions be taken within 72 hours to remove or sufficiently suppress the odor, such as the purchase of a charcoal filter unit specifically designed to remove odors.

(3) Any property or dwelling which is found to be emitting marijuana cultivation odors 72 hours after being tagged can be fined up to $50 per day until the odor is removed. Odor from the smoking of marijuana shall not be cause for any action.

(4) Adults 21 years and older, who are bona fide medical marijuana patients, may produce up to 6 mature outdoor flowering plants, or up to 12 mature indoor flowering plants per person; or a total number of plants cultivated per household not to exceed 12 mature flowering plants outdoors or 24 plants indoors. The cultivation shall take place in an indoor or outdoor space or area not visible from a public street or sidewalk.

(5) No taxes, fees, laws, rules, regulations, zones, local city or county zoning requirements may be adopted or enacted to defeat, deny, or prohibit the purposes of this Act, or to defeat, deny, or prohibit adult medical marijuana patients, 21 or older or from engaging in the activities authorized and protected by this Act, unless passed by the state or local voters.

(6) Nothing in this section shall prevent a property owner from prohibiting marijuana cultivation on their property or conduct that damages their property, so long as that is clearly stated in their rental agreement or lease.

(7) This Act repeals, preempts and nullifies any and all conflicting local regulations, but allows for a greater number of plants than authorized by this measure, if a physician has written a letter or recommendation that states that these limits are insufficient for their patient.

(8) No regulations, taxes, permits or fees shall be enacted or imposed upon marijuana for qualifying patients or their caregivers.

(9) Elected, appointed, hired employees, officers, and officials of the City of South Lake Tahoe shall not directly or indirectly cooperate with or assist federal, state, or county officers or officials, volunteers, or employees who eradicate marijuana, act for seizure or forfeiture, or demand entry without a warrant or to defeat any liberally construed purpose of this Act, nor may any state or local agency contract to eradicate marijuana that is being grown, manufactured or stored under the provisions of this Act. Violation of this clause shall be a misdemeanor, punishable by fine and up to one year in prison.

(10) The City of South Lake Tahoe is ordered to protect and defend all provisions of this Act from any and all challenges or litigation, whether by persons, officials, cities, counties, the state or federal governments.

(11) South Lake Tahoe City Police are hereby enjoined from arresting anyone age 21 or older for any marijuana related offense, which is protected by this Act.

(12) This Act shall become effective immediately upon passage and may be applied retroactively to protect patients or caregivers from civil or criminal prosecution.

(13) Patients and caregivers shall have the right to transfer their marijuana to other patients or collectives and be paid a remuneration for their out of pocket expense and their time.

(14) The City of South Lake Tahoe is hereby enjoined from banning or limiting the number of medical marijuana collectives, dispensaries or delivery services operating within the City. However, the City shall have the power to regulate or even ban any signage by dispensaries and to ban the location of any dispensary within 600 feet of a school.

Section C. Severability

If any of the provisions of this Act, or any part thereof, is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining provisions shall not be affected, but shall remain in full force and effect, and to this end the provisions of this Act are severable.

Steve Kubby is a resident of South Lake Tahoe.

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Comments (16)
  1. Frank says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    Kubby thinks that we can’t see through the haze to see this ballot measure for what it really is. You don’t care about the smell, but if you put that in the ordinance, you think more people will think they are voting to prohibit more growth, instead they would be voting to allow more growth.

    You want to make it ok for people who rent a house to tear it up pulling wires through the walls and ceilings to turn the entire place into a grow operation, as long as the ventilation keeps it in the house.

    You’re trying to turn our town into the pot capital more than it already is. It’s not “medicine” for most of the 20/30 somethings that smoke it contiuously, it’s a drug. I’ve seen the houses these folks have torn up, it’s ridiculous, when they leave in the middle of the night after destoying the house. You want to make it ok for them to grow without permission of the landlord, forget it.

    Luckily, thankfully, your ballot measure would only bring all our voters out to the ballot box which is sure to help for all the other items on the ticket while we resoundly vote down another one of your masquerading ideas seeking to abuse the system. Just like you were defeated in the last election by a landslide this will go down in defeat as well.

  2. Dee says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    I agree with Frank completely! Well said!
    Does Steve Kubby really think we are stupid enough to
    not read the fine print?
    No more weed for Mr. Kubby.

  3. dryclean says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    Kubby is quick to point out that CA law allows medical use of marajuana. However, he does not point out that CA is violating federal law by allowing any use of marajuana.
    I am waiting to see if our city council gets sued or fined or arrested for voting in ordinances which are in conflict with federal law. If they are not scared, they should be.

  4. dbud says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    So, a very interesting article and comments. So quick reply to “dryclean” just FYI: the Federal Illegality of Cannabis is hypocritical since they (THE FEDERAL GOV’t) has been supplying 13 “patient’s” rolled joints since 1981. AND you shouldn’t worry about YOUR city council, haven’t you heard about the Oakland City accepting a check from Harborside Health for $334,000 taxed Cannabis Sales!! That’s only the start, they have to pay the city about $1mil and the IRS $2.1 Mil

  5. Frank G says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    Have any of you even read the initiative?

    (6) Nothing in this section shall prevent a property owner from prohibiting marijuana cultivation on their property or conduct that damages their property, so long as that is clearly stated in their rental agreement or lease.

  6. LF Rubio says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    clearly no one read the fine print all the way through, he states that the land owner has the right to put in a NO-GROW clause in his lease.
    as for our city council, they are not only violating federal laws, they are violating our constitutional rights as citizens of CALIFORNIA.
    remember that our constitution gives our STATES the right to vote in a new law, we as Californians have done so not only once but numerous times voted FOR legal marijuana.
    if you done like your states laws I suggest you move somewhere where they agree with your point of view.

  7. TREVELYAN says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    Why are you so angry “Dryclean”. Are we to believe that is the Federal government allows for medical pot you will then be OK with it. I doubt it. Stop fearing this plant so much for Pete’s sake. The ordinance sounds pretty fair to me. Just filter your exhaust so people don’t have to smell it. The plant helps people and is a safer alternative to alcohol.

  8. the conservation robot says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    Look at all these personal attacks.
    “Attack the idea not the person” Right Kae…..
    God forbid I label someone with the ‘M’ word.
    And as Rubio pointed out, many people didn’t even read the article completely.

    dryclean, you really want someone to be sued or go to jail over marijuana? What kind of sick person supports this kind of ignorant brutality? Do you think prohibition works? You want to throw someone in jail over a plant that is less harmful than any legal drug?
    Our federal laws are wrong. And supported by social conservative bible thumper do-gooders that think they are making the world better by throwing people in jail for a plant. It is also supported by the prison-industrial complex. There is a profit motive in out system to lock up non violent offenders, particularly those who have been caught with marijuana.
    It is unjust and highly immoral. The world is a worse place because of these laws.
    And you support this?

  9. Hangs Ups From Way Back says - Posted: December 30, 2011



  10. SmedleyButler says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    Some people are brainwashed …. others are completely drycleaned~

  11. Bud Green says - Posted: December 30, 2011

    This overreaching “solution” would create many more problems than it solves. The most incomprehensible part is where the odor of smoked marijuana “shall not be a cause for any action.” That’s a year-round invitation to spark up in public, not an ordinance designed to deal with seasonal odors. Creating a new misdemeanor for city employees that violate the ordinance is downright scary.

    SLT’s cultivation regulations may fall of their own accord if the Long Beach appellate court ruling holds up, at least the part requiring residential permits. There are better ways to pursue clarity for local growers than substituting a worse ordinance for a bad one. Being a good neighbor, for starters.

  12. Marijuana Warrior says - Posted: January 4, 2012

    I support Steve Kubby and his efforts to make slt a better place to live. Drycleaner needs to mellow out on his refer madness smut that he peddles. If a landlord does not want marijuana growing in the home they rent, than write it in the lease. Simple. If someone destroys a home, the are liable in the court of law. Spare us your mellow dramatic propaganda Dry cleaner because no one is falling for it. I am glad that we will have an initiative to vote on that safeguards the community and allows people to grow a little bit of medical marijuana. For Green Buds, the cultivation ordinance on the books is draconian and unconstitutional. Do your homework before you comment.

  13. Marijuana Warrior says - Posted: January 4, 2012

    There has yet an ordinance on the books that has been challenged by the feds in reference to cultivation except mendo because of the permitting built into the legislation. The federal crackdown is because of dispensaries, not cultivation. The voters have the final say-so dry cleaned, not the council unless they do not want to throw away the money on an election and adopt the initiative word for word. The state has stop reimbursing cities and counties for the cost of local elections. Also, did the feds threatened the voters because of the passage of prop 215? No! At least if you sling crap, make sure it makes sense.

  14. mike boutin says - Posted: April 19, 2012

    SLT should pass an ordinance against obnoxious carpet baggers named kubby from living there!