Antioch Council votes to prohibit medical marijuana cultivation, allocates extra money from state on split votes

By Nick Goodrich

The Antioch City Council voted on Tuesday, November 24th, voted against the growing of marijuana for personal medical use in Antioch, was made during Tuesday’s meeting. State laws regarding marijuana cultivation will go into effect in March of next year, necessitating action by the City to either regulate or prohibit cultivation if it wants to retain its right to prohibit growing inside Antioch city limits.

If a city has not adopted an ordinance on the issue by March 1, 2016, it will be subject to state decisions on the matter. Concerns of security and crime issues weighed heavily in the discussion, with several Antioch residents speaking out in favor of prohibition; the notion of possible growing operations next door, small in size though they may be, proved disconcerting to many, as the presence of such operations could increase the risk of theft to the surrounding homes.

Police Chief Allan Cantando also expressed his concern before the Council about the possibility of regulated cultivation in Antioch, citing an increased crime risk and undue burden on the Antioch Police Department. Cantando reminded the Council that some past thefts in Antioch involving marijuana have resulted in homicides, and he is reluctant to support city measures that could possibly increase this trend. In addition, he said, other legal drug uses in Antioch, such as methodone, have tended to attract undesirable people and behavior to the area.

The issue also raised moral questions about restricting a medical user’s access to cannabis that may be an important part of the user’s treatment. The Council emphasized that the option to increase or decrease restrictions on cultivation should be left open if future considerations call for such action.

Following the discussion, the City Council voted unanimously to direct city staff to prepare an ordinance prohibiting marijuana cultivation in Antioch. Chief Allan Cantando saw the decision as an important move for the well-being and effectiveness of the APD, with the added benefit of remaining in accordance with federal marijuana laws.

“We’re trying to reduce response times and increase arrests,” he said. “This would be a burden to our department.”

Use of One-Time State Funds

The council also voted on the allocation of $883,175 received from the State of California. In June of this year, the State reimbursed the city of Antioch for nearly $800,000 for previous unfunded State mandates. The money was placed in the General Fund, where it collected interest before being brought to the Council.

The City Council directed that half of the $883,175 be applied to unfunded liabilities for the Police Supplementary Retirement Plan, as mandated by a Council decision earlier this year. That decision called for a minimum of 50% of all one-time monies received by the city to be allocated to unfunded liabilities. City Council considered several options for the use of the remaining money, including a Habitat Conservation Plan, an L Street redesign project, funding for the Antioch Historical Society’s Fire Truck Display Project, funding sister city activities, and funding an after-school library program at Deer Valley High School.

The City Council voted unanimously to fund the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which establishes requirements for development projects that convert natural habitats into urban areas. Antioch was offered the opportunity to receive a Section 6 Federal Grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Services, worth more than $688,000, to pay for the HCP. In return, the city was required to pay only $229, 377, and can recoup money up to that amount from future development projects in the city. Antioch had previously been the last remaining city in East Contra Costa County to not participate in an HCP.

In a 4-1 vote, with Council Member Monica Wilson voting no, the Council also approved funding in the amount of $20,000 for the Antioch Historical Society’s Fire Truck Display Project, which was approved by the city last month. The project will add an additional building to the Historical Society Museum to house and display the Society’s antique 1927 Ford Model T fire engine, recently acquired from the city. In October, Mayor Wade Harper expressed his intent to offer funding for the project, and followed through this month with the support of most of the council.

In addition, the Council, in a 3-2 vote, with Wilson and Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock voting no, granted funding to Deer Valley High School’s after school library program, matching the $4,300 it has provided the program in recent years.

$500 was also allocated to fund activities with Antioch’s sister city, Chichibu, Japan. However, funding for the L Street redesign project fell short, on a 2-3 vote, with only Harper and Council Member Mary Rocha voting yes. The Council will revisit the project at a later date, with the goal to convert L Street into a “lovely, tree-lined parkway”, according to City Manager Steve Duran.

The next Antioch City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall between West 2nd and 3rd Streets in downtown Antioch. Council meetings can be viewed on Comcast local cable channel 24 or via live streaming on the city’s website at


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