Suit targets ban on growing medical marijuana outdoors


A lawsuit challenging the City of Fresno’s temporary ban on the outdoor cultivation of medical cannabis was filed April 23, 2012. The third amended petition and complaint against Fresno’s outdoor growing ban was filed August 26, 2013, in Fresno County Superior Court. No trial date has been set.

Mayor Ashley Swearengin signed Fresno’s permanent ban on outdoor marijuana cultivation July 3, following the Fresno City Council’s final vote June 28. The law took effect August 3, 2012.

Marijuana cultivation ban – City of Fresno

The back story: On Dec. 15, 2011, the Fresno City Council passed Ordinance 2011-41, an interim urgency ordinance that placed an immediate ban on the outdoor cultivation of medical cannabis by qualified patients and primary caregivers.

Part I: Fresno Police Department presentation (16 minutes)

Part II: Fresno City Council comments and discussion (13 minutes)


The outdoor growing ban was extended for 10 months, 15 days, by Ordinance 2012-3, which was passed by the Fresno City Council on Jan. 26.

Ordinance 2012-3: Extension of outdoor cultivation ban (23 minutes)


On April 2, 2012, the Airport Land Use Commission of Fresno County determined the outdoor growing ban was consistent with the Fresno County Airport Compatibility Land Use Policy Plan.

Medical cannabis growing ordinance on April 2 ALUC agenda.

Minutes of April 2, 2012, ALUC meeting.

Although the ALUC is an advisory body, the Fresno Municipal Code and the Public Resources Code require the commission to weigh in on zoning ordinances before final approval, not after. In fact, the city re-enacted its dispensary ban in 2007 after determining there was an “error in adoption” of the 2006 dispensary ban because it wasn’t heard by the ALUC or the Fresno Planning Commission.

A close reading of the ALUC report shows the city made another error this time around: It provided the text of interim Ordinance 2012-3 instead of the proposed permanent outdoor growing ban. Close enough for government work? De minimis error? Either way, this procedural hiccup isn’t a focus of the litigation.


The Fresno Planning Commission voted 4-2 on May 16, 2012, to recommend passage of a permanent ban on growing medical marijuana outdoors in the city. Click for detailed comments about the outdoor growing ban.

Update: I uploaded the audio of the hearing, which was more detailed overall than any of the City Council hearings. Enjoy the brownie reference at the end of the file, after the hearing had concluded. Good times.

Minutes of Fresno Planning Commission meeting.


The Fresno City Council voted unanimously June 28, 2012, to permanently ban on outdoor cannabis cultivation. Here’s video of the public hearing at the first reading of the ordinance June 21:

Ordinance 2012-13 staff report, draft ordinance and environmental findings.


While the lawsuit is focused on personal cultivation of cannabis, state law also authorizes collective and cooperative cultivation. The city banned dispensaries in 2004, and updated the ban in 2006 and 2007.

Ordinance 2007-42 bans medical cannabis dispensaries and cooperatives in the City of Fresno.


Cultivation lawsuit documents

Unofficial copy of complaint filed against the City of Fresno seeking judicial review of Ordinance 2012-3.

Unofficial copy of ex parte application for temporary restraining order to block enforcement by the city.

Unofficial copy of memorandum of points and authorities.

Unofficial copy of first amended complaint challenging Ordinance 2012-13. (Filed Oct. 19, 2012)

Unofficial copy of second amended petition and complaint (Filed April 15, 2013).

Unofficial copy of third amended petition and complaint (Filed Aug. 26, 2013).

 Posted by at 6:55 pm