Proposed ballot initiative would adopt federal marijuana law, stop local regulations
Written by Elizabeth Larson
Friday, 02 December 2011
LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – Amidst several ongoing efforts to place referendums and initiatives on the June 2012 ballot in favor of medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation, a new effort is moving forward to ban marijuana in the county altogether.
On Thursday, Lake County Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley received a notice of intention to circulate a petition for the “Lake County Act to Adopt Federal Marijuana Laws.”
The petition’s statement of reasons explains, “Voters of Lake County, California need an alternative to the aggressive pro-pot agenda being pushed by entities within and outside of the county.”
If the petition receives enough signatures, it would qualify as an initiative on the June 2012 ballot.
Lakeport resident John O’Rourke filed the petition. He said he’s part of a group of community members who felt some action needed to be taken on the issue, which they’ve been considering since earlier this year.
“I’m not a crusader as much as I am just against the whole idea of legalizing any drugs,” said O’Rourke, who added that he lost his two brothers because of the drug problem.
Upper Lake resident Nancy Brier, another member of the group involved in the effort, said the measure is very simple and straightforward.
Indeed, the ordinance language is very brief, stating, “Lake County, California, will adopt federal marijuana law.”
That simple language, however, means that marijuana – even medicinal uses – would be banned in the county, since federal law does not recognize any legal uses. That’s created conflict with California’s Compassionate Use Act, passed in 1996, which decriminalizes medical marijuana use.
The initiative, if it makes it to the ballot and is approved by voters, would prevail over any conflicting local laws or ordinances, according to its language.
County Counsel Anita Grant must now submit a ballot title and summary so signature gathering to put the initiative on next June’s ballot can begin, Brier said.
Once Grant approves it, “Our timeline is extraordinarily tight” to begin the signature gathering effort, said Brier.
Brier, pointing to hundreds of postcards citizens submitted to the Board of Supervisors earlier this year in opposition to dispensaries, said she thinks there is support for the effort she’s helping to undertake.
The new proposed initiative comes forward at a time when there is an abundance of pro-marijuana referendums and initiatives being promoted in Lake County.
On Monday, Lake County Citizens for Responsible Regulations – sponsored by a group calling itself the Lake County Green Farmers Association – began gathering signatures to place its “Lake County Medical Marijuana Cultivation Act of 2012” on the June 2012 ballot.
That group also has gathered signatures for a referendum in opposition to the Board of Supervisors’ cultivation ordinance.
An effort to place an initiative on the June 2012 ballot in support of medical marijuana dispensaries also is pending, according to Weston Mickey, who helped gather signatures for a referendum against a county ordinance to govern the dispensaries.
After that referendum received enough signatures this fall to quality for the ballot next year, the Board of Supervisors rescinded its dispensaries ordinance and directed the Community Development Department to begin taking action against dispensaries, which the county holds are now allowed under current zoning.
Last month, the county served notices of violation to 10 dispensaries operating in the unincorporated county, according to Community Development Director Rick Coel.
Brier, who spoke out publicly in Board of Supervisors hearings earlier this year on marijuana-related ordinances, said she and fellow members of the group are fearful about what will happen if the proposed medical marijuana cultivation initiative becomes law, or even if the Board of Supervisors’ cultivation ordinance remains in effect.
“Either scenario is not good for people living in densely populated neighborhoods,” she said.
O’Rourke said he had concerns about the county’s ordinances to regulate dispensaries and cultivation.
“They were trying very hard to accommodate everyone and you can’t do that,” he said.
He said some areas of California have outright bans on medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries. “I would like Lake County to be like that.”
Brier said she and other members of the group are concerned about retaliation. She said she’s had her own home in Upper Lake hit with graffiti because of her stand about marijuana.
“I’d say there’s a lot of fearfulness, and it’s warranted,” she said. “
well im not sure what to say…i dont think thell have the time or money to gets enough sigs to get it on the ballot…well see…