One of the most common questions that I get from friends and in my e-mail inbox is in regards to growing medical marijuana near a school zone. I actually wrote about this topic for my third article ever on TWB. Reading over the article I wrote, most of the information is still valid, especially outside of California and Colorado. However, before you start a medical marijuana garden near a school zone, I would check with the city and county that you live in.
In the absence of solid medical marijuana laws at the state and federal level, many cities and counties have enacted their own rules and ordinances, many involving the distance medical marijuana gardens need to be away from certain zones, including schools. There’s almost no way to compile all the Colorado and California zoning ordinances all into one article, or book for that matter. Most ordinances are tailored for medical marijuana dispensaries, however, many also include gardens. The best thing to do is to call your local city and county codes divisions to get the most up to date information. Below is an excerpt from my earlier article, which is still solid reasoning for people that live in medical marijuana states that are not California or Colorado. Of course, if you live in a non-medical marijuana state, than it really doesn’t matter how close you are to a school zone!:
In September of 2009 Anthony Beasley of Keizer, OR filed a lawsuit against the city of Keizer, claiming that his civil rights were violated when his house was raided back in 2007. A couple of weeks before the raid, Mr. Beasley’s house was burglarized, and his medical marijuana plants taken. When the police came to investigate the burglary, they discovered the LEGAL medical marijuana garden. The officers didn’t know what to do though, because the grow house was bordered by the local high school. We’re not talking within 1000 feet of the school, we’re talking 0.00 ft from the school. Like, if you hopped over his back yard fence, you would be in the Keizer high school parking lot. ***His plants were being grown outside in his backyard, so it’s pretty easy to figure out how the culprits staked out his place!***
After NOT citing Mr. Beasley at the time, the Keizer police decided to come back TWO weeks later (on ‘another unrelated complaint’ involving hash containers) and cite him for cultivating and possessing marijuana within 1000 feet of a school. The charges were later dropped because he was LEGAL, and the city of Keizer then resorted to trying to pass a zoning law post facto. However, opposite to zoning businesses, there is no case law as far as zoning private, LEGAL medicine consumers. For the non-legal crowd, this means no rules have been set yet. Due to this fact, whether or not a zoning law is legal, or if current ‘drug free school zones’ pertain to medical marijuana, is unclear.
But I would make this legal due process argument: If you can have prescription painkillers near a school, how is medical marijuana different, assuming both are prescribed to the patient legally? One might argue that school zones are federal, and federal law considers marijuana to be illegal, so state programs aren’t recognized, and therefore a ban on medical marijuana is perfectly legal. But I would say this: A school zoning law means NO banned substances are allowed within the ‘zone,’ at any time, under any circumstances. Opiates are the same level according to the feds as marijuana (assuming you don’t have a prescription), so regardless of if you had marijuana with no prescription (according to the feds, it’s every time) or an opiate painkiller with no prescription, you would be violating the ‘drug free school zone’ law either way, and therefore they are considered EQUALS under the law.
You get a prescription for either substance fromm a state recognized doctor, so again they are considered EQUALS under the law. In regular English, if you have a state recognized prescription for a substance the feds consider to be illegal, it is no longer illegal, and therefore is no longer ‘banned’ under the school zone law. The 14th Amendment requires equal protection under the laws, and to pick and choose when a law applies and when it doesn’t is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment. It has to apply to all patients, all the time, equally, or be tossed out.
Sorry for the legal ramble, but this is an IMPORTANT battle. As someone that once grew medical marijuana LEGALLY in a house across the street from a school, I will be keeping tabs on this case. The outcome could affect every medical marijuana grower and patient in America, because if you can’t have medical plants near a school, you can’t have medical marijuana near a school, period. Imagine getting pulled over, un-medicated, with your medical card, and getting the same charge as a corner drug dealer just because you had a gram of medicine in your vehicle. We look forward to seeing the outcome of your case Mr. Beasley.