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The subject at this day’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors was the proposed county ordinance relating to Medical Marijuana Cultivation. That ordinance (SCC 2014-2) was adopted on January 28, 2014. It would outlaw marijuana cultivation outdoors altogether, place a 12-plant limit on indoor gardens, provide other requirements covering indoor gardens, and would make violations of the ordinance a misdemeanor. The Board took three actions, all of them by unanimous vote.
First, they received the report that the referendum to repeal the Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance had qualified. Cathy Darling Allen, the County Clerk/Registrar of Voters reported that the referendum petition received 12,287 signatures.
A random sample of those signatures determined that 63% were eligible (the voter was registered, the address matched the registration, and the signature matched the one on the registration form). This sample exceeds the number of signatures required to certify the petition as sufficient.
County Counsel Rubin Cruse reported that the Board had three options. (1) They could repeal the Ordinance SCC 2-14-2 entirely and have no election. (2) They could adopt a resolution calling for an election in November 2014 that would allow voters to approve or reject the Ordinance. (3) They could direct staff to prepare a report addressing the impacts of the Ordinance (such as fiscal impact, effect on the community’s ability to attract and retain business and employment, impact on agricultural lands, open space, housing availability and location, or any other matters). Such a report must be prepared within 30 days and the Board then would either repeal the ordinance or place the question of approving or rejecting the Ordinance on the November ballot. Supervisor Bill Schappell asked if it was an option to modify the Ordinance. Cruse’s answer was no: the options above are laid out in the law. The Board could repeal the Ordinance and begin the process of developing a different one. Supervisor Leonard Moty, supported by Supervisor Schappell, expressed a preference to wait to act to see if the basic rules on marijuana are changed by state law or initiative. This was not an option.
The Board heard a good deal of testimony before they acted. A few testifiers supported the Ordinance and urged the Board to put it on the ballot. These testifiers believed that the ban on outdoor grows will address issues of crime, public safety, excessive water use, and neighborhood conflict. Many more supported the initiative. Some of these testifiers called for putting the issue to the ballot; others called for outright repeal. Some of the arguments these testifiers used included:
- Current law is not being enforced; the new ordinance will not be enforced. The county needs to find a way for reasonable, enforceable control.
- Enforcement is driven by the availability of federal drug enforcement funds that preserve personnel in the sheriff’s office.
- This issue is tearing the county apart; put it to the ballot and move on.
- Banning outdoor grows is especially hard on low income persons who depend on this medicine.
- If the problem is large commercial grows, craft an ordinance that permits small grows for medical purposes.
- Are pharmaceutical companies and alcohol purveyors behind laws like this, in order to reduce competition?
- Marijuana is not the largest crime problem: we should be focusing our law enforcement resources on rapists, robbers, murderers and we should be using state and local resource agencies to focus on water theft.
There were also a variety of concerns that the ordinance was unconstitutional, or inconsistent with state law, or in opposition to the will of the people as expressed in the state marijuana initiative.
The Board determined that putting the Ordinance on the ballot would cost approximately $80,000. Supervisor David Kehoe said he was persuaded by many of the speakers that a vote on the issue in November was the right action. His motion to do so was seconded by Supervisor Pam Giacomini, and passed unanimously.
Finally, the Board adopted unanimously direction that the official ballot in November include an impartial analysis of the Ordinance instead of the full text of the measure, and that the full text be available on the County’s website and mailed to any voter on request.
The Board took some additional actions. They heard a presentation from The Women’s Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. The Fund raises contributions and provides grants to non-profit community agencies that address pressing issues affecting women and their families. They also sponsor free, community education forums on such issues. They awarded $30,000 in 2013 in the area of encouraging a culture of learning and growth. The Women’s Fund will sponsor a community forum on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, from 12 – 1:30 at the Redding Library.
The Board, acting as the Shasta County Water Agency Board of Directors, approved a Water Use Agreement with the McConnell Foundation to purchase up to 250 acre feet of water at $250 per acre foot to assure that needs in the Water Agency are met this summer. This contract responds to the news that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has told the Water Agency that it will receive 50% of its historical allocation this year. The Agency subcontracts their water from this source to County Service Areas and other subcontractors. Pat Minturn, County Public Works Director and Chief Engineer of the Water Agency, believes that with this contract the county will have enough to meet demand based on last year.
Note: No Board of Supervisors Meeting on March 25. Meetings Resume April 1 (this is not a joke).
Catherine Camp is currently retired. During her career, she worked as a policy and budget analyst for the California Assembly and California Senate, in health and human services fields. She worked as a policy analyst and advocate for California’s public mental health system. Early in her career, she worked in the Community Action and Head Start programs in Shasta County.