OROVILLE – On the same day a referendum on Butte County’s medical marijuana growing ordinance was placed on the ballot, signatures were turned in to overturn the county’s marijuana dispensary law.

Marijuana advocates turned in 12,025 signatures Tuesday to rescind the ordinance banning dispensaries in Butte County, or to put it on the ballot for voters to decide.

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Petition supporters had to hand over 7,605 valid signatures to the clerk of the Board of Supervisors by today to suspend the ordinance. The dispensary ban will not go into effect Saturday as scheduled.

Instead, the signatures will go to the registrar of voters for verification. The election staff has 30 days excluding weekends and holidays to check the signatures.

If the referendum petition does not have enough valid signatures of voters registered in Butte County, the ban would go into effect immediately. If the referendum is certified with sufficient signatures, the Board of Supervisors would take a vote at its next regularly scheduled meeting to rescind the ordinance or put it to a vote. Supervisors can call a special election or place it on the ballot of a scheduled election ballot.

On Oct. 25, the board voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance banning dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county.

The existing Butte County zoning ordinance does not allow dispensaries as a permitted use, therefore they are prohibited, said Butte County attorney Bruce Alpert. The county plans to continue to enforce the zoning ordinance prohibition.

On the issue of residential marijuana cultivation, Butte supervisors took the final step Tuesday to put the ordinance on the June 5 primary election ballot.

The vote came as part of the board’s consent agenda during the panel’s regular meeting. Board members did not discuss the item before they passed it and others with a 5-0 vote.

This past May, the supervisors adopted the hotly-contested ordinance that places strict restrictions and limitations on medical marijuana gardens in unincorporated areas of the county.

Almost immediately the measure was the target of a successful petition drive. The petitioners forced the supervisors to either rescind the ordinance or put it up for a public vote. The board decided in August to put it to a vote.

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Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
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