Clayton OKs limited outdoor marijuana cultivation

Clayton OKs limited outdoor marijuana cultivation

Clayton OKs limited outdoor marijuana cultivation
Clayton’s cannabis ordinance specifies that outdoor plants cannot be visible from a public right-of-way or other public place, among other restrictions. (Photo by Crystalweed on

CLAYTON, CA (Jan 1, 2022) – The City Council voted unanimously on Dec. 7 to allow residents to grow up to six cannabis plants outside a residential property for personal use.

Permission to grow up to six plants indoors was already guaranteed by state law.

The Zoning Ordinance amendment stipulates that:

  • Outdoor plants cannot be visible from a public right-of-way or other public place.
  • All structures and equipment used for cultivation must comply with applicable building, plumbing, electrical and fire codes.
  • Plants grown outdoors much be enclosed by fencing with locked gates.

Dana Ayers, Clayton’s development director, said the city expects little to no enforcement impact. One area of concern could be the diversion of homegrown marijuana to commercial use, which is strictly prohibited in Clayton.

In 2016, California voters – and 53.8 percent of Clayton voters – approved adult use of marijuana under Prop. 64. Contra Costa County soon followed suit. Legalized for recreational use in 12 states and for medical use in 21 more, cannabis has grown to a $61 billion industry and a significant contributor to state and local tax coffers.

Community discussion

In March, Clayton Councilmember Jim Diaz requested that the outdoor home cultivation issue be brought to the City Council in response to a community member’s request. At a lively council meeting in May, local resident and organic gardener JC Yeh gave a PowerPoint presentation about the health and safety benefits of outdoor marijuana growing and answered questions.

Quite a few folks called in public comments as well, with almost all in favor of lifting the ban on outdoor growing to be in line with neighboring cities. One caller – whose name, coincidentally, was Karen – complained that the smell of marijuana is a public nuisance.

Yeh and others pointed out that indoor growing requires artificial lighting that utilizes electricity and produces more greenhouse gas and other emissions than outdoor growing. She cited research that estimates 1 percent of all U.S electrical consumption can be attributed to indoor marijuana cultivation.

Additionally, she argued, outdoor growing lowers the fire hazard risk from grow light systems and reduces the need for fertilizers, pesticides and anti-fungus/mold agents.

In conversation with the Pioneer, leading cannabis horticulture authority, author, educator and marijuana legalization pioneer Ed Rosenthal applauded Clayton’s expansion of cannabis cultivation options.

“Ordinances that allow folks to grow marijuana for their own use in the same way they can grow tomatoes are a good thing,” he said.

Pamela Michael
Pamela Michael
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Pamela Michael is a writer and communications specialist who has lived in Curry Canyon for twenty years.