The Butte County Board of Supervisors Tuesday repealed an ordinance banning marijuana dispensaries in the county, but the ban still remains in effect.

The unanimous vote came in response to a petition drive seeking to rescind the ordinance passed in October that banned all medical marijuana dispensaries within Butte County jurisdiction.

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After the ordinance was passed, opponents began a petition drive to block the measure. The petitions were turned in to county officials in late November.

In mid-December, the county’s Elections Office certified the petitions had enough signatures to force the supervisors to either repeal the measure or schedule it for a public election.

If it had gone to election, voters could have approved the ordinance or rescinded it.

Tuesday, before the board began discussion of the item, Butte County Counsel Bruce Alpert said there had been confusion about the impact and meaning of the measure banning dispensaries.

He said the board’s October adoption of the ban only made clear a prohibition that already existed against the facilities.

Alpert explained the county’s zoning regulations prohibit any land use that is not expressly allowed or is substantially the same as some other allowed use.

Since the zoning rules do not address marijuana dispensaries, they are prohibited with or without the October ordinance, according to Alpert.

After Alpert’s comments, Oroville Supervisor Bill Connelly said it would cost the county $50,000 to have an election on the ordinance, and if the opponents were successful would only result in rescinding the measure. He said scheduling the measure for a vote would be a waste of money.

Only five people from the audience spoke to the board about the measure. One man said, “I personally think you guys are gutless wonders.”

He said he was dying and medical marijuana was his medicine. Without dispensaries, he claimed he would have no access to the medicine without having to deal with scary people in a scary part of the county.

A woman came to the podium carrying a small planter with a grow light. She said she had been told using these items made her a banned dispensary, making her subject to criminal prosecution. Later in the meeting, District Attorney Mike Ramsey said there was nothing about the woman’s table-top growing operation that was against the law.

The county counsel said nothing in the dispensary ordinance prohibited individuals with medical marijuana cards from growing their own cannabis.

After the public testimony, Chico Supervisor Maureen Kirk said, “I really think we ought to go and repeal the ordinance we have now.”

She made a motion to that effect, but also said she hoped that at some future date a way can be found to allow for dispensaries.

Connelly seconded the motion and the board voted unanimously for the repeal.

Butte’s Chief Administrative Officer Paul Hahn said since the continuing prohibition of the dispensaries is a zoning issue, enforcement would fall to code enforcement officers.

Another marijuana-related item will be on the June primary election ballot. Voters will be asked to approve or repeal another county zoning item that puts strict limitations on where and how many marijuana plants can be grown on private property within the county jurisdiction.

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News Hawk – 420 Warrior 420 MAGAZINE
Location: Butte County, CA
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record
Author: Roger H. Aylworth
Contact: [email protected]
Copyright: 2012 Chico Enterprise-Record
Website: Chico Enterprise Record