The Arcata City Council adopted the long-awaited medical marijuana guidelines regulating cultivation and dispensing Wednesday night, despite opposition from medical marijuana patients and caregivers.

The council unanimously adopted the guidelines, which aim to regulate how dispensaries operate in hopes of curbing Proposition 215 abuse, with a clarification included regarding the amount of space cultivation can take place in.

Shaye Harty, who said she is a medical patient who does not grow in her own residence, urged the council to take more time to consider the language of the guidelines. She said she would not be willing to give up her partnerships with the three people that do live in the houses she grows in.

”If you pass this, and in 30 days when this goes into effect, I will be breaking the law,” she said.

Before the council's decision, several residents spoke up during public comment about the ambiguity of the 50 feet and 10 feet in height restriction for residential grows and the limited on-site cultivation permit for dispensaries in which the cultivation cannot exceed 25 percent of the total floor area with a cap of 1,500 square feet and 10 feet in height.

Dispensary members and owners argued that the space was not adequate to include the equipment required to grow, and asked for specific language addressing it.

Councilmembers and residents both brought up concern regarding the restrictions on primary caregivers and where they can grow.

Carla Ritter of The Humboldt Cooperative, or THC, said patients may not always have space in their residence, or be comfortable with a primary caregiver coming into their home to grow.

”You're talking about people who are incredibly, incredibly vulnerable,” she said.

Ritter said if THC grew only in the space allowed by the guidelines, they would not be able to provide for the 7,000 patients who rely on the dispensary.

Councilwoman Harmony Groves, who asked that the clarification to be added, said while she recognizes the need to address the concerns brought up about primary caregivers, she wanted to ensure progress.

”It's a compromise that we could make tonight to move this forward,” she said.

Mayor Mark Wheetley added that the guidelines could be revisited and amended in six months time during the land use code revision process.

The guidelines - which will apply to all areas of Arcata except those that remain in the coastal zone, which is located mainly in the bottoms as well as south G Street - will go into effect in about a month.

For a complete list of dispensaries, go to

Donna Tam can be reached at 441-0532 or