Calistoga is considering increasing the allowable number of cannabis plants that can be grown outdoors, but councilmembers are not all in agreement.

A divided city council is considering increasing the number of cannabis plants that can be grown outdoors, but the number of allowable plants may depend on the opposing councilmembers who aren’t in favor of any increase.

Three councilmembers – Mayor Chris Canning and councilmembers Jim Barnes and Gary Kraus – said at Tuesday’s council meeting that they would entertain the possibility of increasing the number of outdoor grow plants to six from the current two. Councilmember Irais Lopez-Ortega and Vice Mayor Michael Dunsford both said they were “comfortable” with where the city stands now.

Some residents at a community forum last month on marijuana dispensaries asked for the matter to be revisited. The city passed an ordinance in April 2017 allowing residents to grow up to two outdoor marijuana plants. The vote then was also divided, with Dunsford against, joined by Barnes who voted no on principle because he believes people should be allowed to grow six plants, the maximum determined by state law.

In discussions with the police department, Lynn Goldberg, planning and building director, said there have been no complaints lodged against outdoor or indoor marijuana cultivation. She said it’s unknown how many households decided to grow, but the city has received no safety or odor complaints since the law went into effect.

When the city agreed to allow growth of up to two outdoor plants it agreed then that it would revisit the matter after a full growing season and harvest to determine if the community complained about the odor. The odor can be “pretty potent” for three to four weeks during the season, said an audience member at Tuesday’s meeting when questioned by Kraus on how long the odor lasts with certain strains of marijuana.

The city of Napa just allowed up to six plants to be grown outside for personal use, but no other county municipalities have moved to allow any outdoor growth, Goldberg said.

Canning directed Goldberg to review the ordinance to reflect allowing residents to grow up to six outdoor plants and bring it back to the council for review and consideration at a later date.

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