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Yountville is the latest Napa County town to pass a prohibition on selling or cultivating marijuana ahead of the state’s March deadline to keep regulation of the plant under local control.

The ordinance, which the Town Council approved on its first reading Tuesday night, reaffirms a growing ban passed last month as well as a six-year-old ban on cannabis dispensaries in the Upvalley town.

Because ordinances normally require two votes of approval and a 30-day wait before taking effect, council members also passed an identical copy of the law on an “urgency” basis, which state law allows in cases involving public safety or health. The emergency version of the marijuana ban takes effect immediately.

The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed in October, allows a patient to use up to 100 square feet of his or her property to grow marijuana, and a licensed caregiver can cultivate as much as 500 square feet to supply as many as five patients. Questions remain about whether the limits will apply to multi-family housing, or what rules may govern indoor and outdoor growing.

In December, the council also discussed a ban on delivering cannabis within town limits, but abandoned the idea amid concerns that ill patients would be unable to receive supplies from legal providers outside Yountville.

Yountville’s ban follows similar ordinances passed in American Canyon, St. Helena and Calistoga since mid-December. Those towns have joined numerous others in passing or strengthening local cannabis laws before March 1, after which California law will prevail in towns without a ban.

Napa’s City Council has not taken on the issue since the state law’s passage in the fall. On Thursday, Rick Tooker, community development director, declined to reveal the city’s near-term plans for reviewing its marijuana laws.

In 2010, council members voted to allow a cannabis dispensary in Napa, but scrapped the ordinance in December 2013 without a dispensary opening. Opponents attacked that plan as making the drug more accessible to minors and exposing the city to possible prosecution by the federal government, which continues to declare marijuana a banned substance despite states’ legalization.

A petition drive in 2014 sought to give voters the chance to legalize Napa dispensaries again, but fell short of the 3,852 valid signatures it needed to advance.

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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