Pubdate: Wed, 27 Jul 2016
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Chico Enterprise-Record
Note: Letters from newspaper’s circulation area receive publishing priority
Author: Dan Reidel
ELECTION: BUTTE COUNTY POT INITIATIVE ON THE BALLOT
Oroville – Marijuana is back on the ballot.
The Butte County Board of Supervisors sent an initiative by pot proponents to the November ballot with a 4-1 vote shortly after noon Tuesday.
Parts of the initiative, titled the “Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Commerce Measure,” were questioned by the supervisors, but ultimately, with the deadline approaching to either approve the initiative as a county ordinance or send it to the November election, District 5 Supervisor Doug Teeter made the motion to have the people of the county vote on the initiative.
The board had a third option, to ask county staff for a report on the impacts of the initiative, but the county’s chief administration officer Paul Hahn told the board members if they asked for a report it would not be completed in time and would push the initiative back nearly two years, to the June 2018 election.
The initiative will appear on the ballot unaltered as a measure, and should it be enacted by voters, the measure would effectively repeal Measure A and call for an overhaul of the current legal marijuana growth and distribution system.
As the sole vote against sending the initiative forward, Bill Connelly questioned exactly what would happen if the initiative passed.
Butte County director for the Department of Developmental Services Tim Snelling and assistant director Pete Calarco presented the initiative to the supervisors and explained the concerns with the language of the initiative and the fact the initiative would not only establish commercial growing and new marijuana dispensaries in the county, but also create a business license program for commercial growers.
Bruce Alpert, county counsel, called the initiative a “wish list” and said establishing a business license program would make marijuana a part of the “fabric of our community.”
Despite voting to send the initiative to the ballot, the other supervisors also had questions about the impacts. District 3 Supervisor Maureen Kirk asked if they should ask for a report on effects in the county, but Teeter argued he would like to send it to the November ballot, which would only happen if the board acted Tuesday.
Connelly spoke after the meeting about his concerns and why he dissented.
The District 1 Supervisor and chair of the board said he thought the initiative “warranted further study” because of the impact it could have on the community and the effects it could have on changing agriculture and zoning laws in Butte County. He also wanted to better understand Proposition 64 – the state marijuana initiative regarding legalization for adults which will be on the November ballot – and how that would affect the county if it passes.
Connelly said he thinks the momentum is on the side of those who supported and won the fight for Measures H and G in the June primary election, which made amendments to Measure A, but upheld the structure of medical marijuana regulation in the county. Connelly also noted things could change and the initiative could end up passing.
“Public opinion is becoming, over time, more accepting of marijuana,” he said.
With the sound of ukulele music echoing in the lobby of the chambers of the Board of Supervisors, proponents laughed, chatted and offered congratulations after the board agreed to let voters decide in November.
“I think that today’s decision is a victory for anyone who cares about quality of life in Butte County,” said Jessica MacKenzie, executive director of the Inland Cannabis Farmers Association. “It’s a victory for those who want regulation.”
“I agree there are things that have to be ironed out,” she said.
MacKenzie said the initiative’s author, Charnell James, purposely left out how the measure would be enforced.
“We didn’t go into how it would be enforced, we didn’t think we should be the ones to do that,” MacKenzie said.
MacKenzie also noted that some within the “cannabis community” didn’t agree wholeheartedly with the entire ballot initiative as it was written, but she thinks the initiative offers common sense rules and her group would support other rules that made sense and were negotiated with true compromise in mind.
Other supporters looked forward to the possibility the vote will pass with a higher percentage of voters historically casting ballots in presidential elections and more students residing in both Chico and Butte County during the fall semester.
“We’ve lost the last two votes,” said Alexander Lyons, who spoke in favor of the initiative before the board. “We’re very happy it’s being voted on in November. With Chico State in session, that’s a huge plus for us.”
Judith Schreuder, the owner of Dutch Farms Organics, a company that provides medical marijuana tinctures and topical balms, said she registered her business in 2012 and just wants to do the right thing.
Schreuder understands there are already regulations in place, but said Measure A is too restrictive for businesses like her own.
“It’s just sticking us in a little box,” she said. “For someone like me who supplies to many patients, it doesn’t work.”
Growers of medical marijuana want to be treated as farmers, she said, and the distributors want legal dispensaries where they can sell marijuana as a medical product.
“Right now I have to meet people with a little baggy,” Schreuder said.
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom