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Lake County Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance 2997 Referendum, Measure N (June 2014)

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A Lake County Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance Referendum ballot question was on the June 3, 2014 election ballot for voters in Lake County, California, where it was approved.[1]

This referendum ballot question gave voters the chance to overturn or approve the county ordinance, Ordinance 2997, that sought to regulate and restrict the cultivation of marijuana for medicinal use. The Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation (CABICC), the group behind the referendum petition campaign, turned in approximately 4,200 signatures, which was about twice the required number of valid signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot. The county registrar of voters verified that the signature petitions were sufficient, forcing the county commissioners to decide between voting to directly repeal the ordinance or letting voters decide the issue on the June 3, 2014 primary election ballot. On January 4, 2014, the commission voted three against one, with one member abstaining, to put the measure on the ballot, rather than rescind it.[2][3]

The Lake County Citizens for Responsible Regulations and the Lake County Green Farmers Association, members of the Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation, were behind a referendum petition to overturn a similar marijuana regulation county ordinance in June of 2012. In that instance, the county supervisors directly repealed the ordinance when faced with the successful referendum petition. Reportedly, the supervisors were expecting opposition this time around and were resolved from the outset to uphold the ordinance and send it to a vote if enough signatures were certified to validate the referendum petition.[4]

CABICC Campaign Manager Daniel McLean stated that there was a chance the Alliance would propose its own ordinance for voter approval in November.[2]

A "yes" vote supported the supervisors and approved Ordinance 2997 while a "no" vote rescinded Ordinance 2997.[5]

Election results

Measure N
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 7,835 51.6%
No7,35248.4%
Election results from County of Lake Registrar

The ordinance

Provisions

The ordinance that the CABICC sought to overturn had the following provisions, which would apply to the unincorporated parts of the county:[4]

  • It banned outdoor cultivation in community growth boundaries.
  • It limited indoor grows to 100 square feet or less.
  • It kept outdoor cultivation 1,000 feet from schools, parks or other facilities serving children and 100 feet from bodies of water.
  • It offered quicker response to violations and made the Lake County Sheriff's Office responsible for enforcement.

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:[6]

Shall County Ordinance No. 2997 that proposes limits on indoor cultivation of medical marijuana to 100 square feet; prohibits outdoor cultivation within Community Growth Boundaries or on parcels smaller than 1 acre; allows outdoor cultivation of 6 mature or 12 immature plants on parcels larger than 1 acre; allows collective or cooperative organizations outdoor cultivation of up to 48 mature or 72 immature plants on Agriculture zoned property of at least 20 acres; be adopted?[7]

Impartial analysis

The following impartial analysis was provided by the office of the county counsel:[6]

Measure “N” is a referendum on Ordinance No. 2997, adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the County of Lake. A referendum submits a Board-adopted ordinance to a vote of the County’s registered voters. On December 17, 2013, the Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted Ordinance No. 2997, an Ordinance Amending Chapter 21 of the Ordinance Code of the County of Lake Adding Article 72: Regulations for the Cultivation of Medical Marijuana (“Ordinance No. 2997"). A referendum petition to either repeal Ordinance No. 2997 or submit it to the voters received the required number of signatures. On February 4, 2014, the Board of Supervisors chose to submit Ordinance No. 2997 to the voters.

Ordinance No. 2997 prohibits outdoor cultivation within any designated Community Growth Boundary and on any parcel that is one (1) acre or smaller. It requires that outdoor cultivation be completely screened from public view and from the views of adjacent parcels with a fully-enclosed solid fence of a minimum of six (6) feet in height. It prohibits outdoor cultivation of medical marijuana within 75 feet of any property line or within 150 feet of any off-site residence, as measured from the edge of the fence of the cultivation area. It prohibits medical marijuana cultivation from adversely affecting the health or safety of nearby residents by creating dust, glare, heat, noise, odor, smoke, traffic, or other impacts, or from being hazardous due to the use or storage of fertilizers, pesticides, or wastes. Ordinance No. 2997 restricts outdoor cultivation by medical marijuana collectives to no more than 48 mature plants or 72 immature plants provided the cultivation occurs on a parcel that is at least 20 acres and located with the Agriculture zoning district. It prohibits cultivation, whether indoor or outdoor, on a property that does not have a permitted residence. It requires, in the case of rented or leased premises, that written approval is obtained from the property owner(s) authorizing the tenant or lessee to cultivate medical marijuana at the site before such cultivation may occur. It limits the indoor cultivation of medical marijuana to a use area of 100 square feet and 1,200 watts of lighting for health and safety reasons.

Measure “N” is being submitted to all County voters, including voters in the incorporated areas. If a majority of the votes cast on the measure are “Yes”, the measure will be approved and Ordinance No. 2997 will become effective. If a majority of the votes cast on the measure are “No”, the measure will not be approved and Ordinance No. 2997 will not become effective. [7]

—Anita L. Grant, Lake County Counsel[6]

Full text

The full text of Ordinance 2997, which was approved by Measure N, is available here.

Support

Note: In this article, those who approved of the Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance 2997 and disapproved of the repeal of that ordinance, advocating a "yes" vote on Measure N, are referred to as "supporters."

Supporters

Citizens for a Safer Lake County campaign logo

The group called Citizens for a Safer Lake County campaigned in support of Measure N.[8]

The Lake County Deputy Sheriff's Association approved of Ordinance 2997 and advocated a "yes" vote on Measure N.[5]

The Lake County Chamber of Commerce and the Lake County Farm Bureau also supported a "yes" vote on Measure N.[8][9]

The following individuals signed the official arguments in favor of Measure N:[6]

  • Thomas Guthrie, retired resident
  • Ann E. Guthrie, retired resident
  • Lynn A. Hollenback, retired resident
  • Jeffrey B. Markham, retired Lake County Chief Deputy Sheriff
  • Gerald N. Shurdell, retired San Diego Deputy Sheriff

Arguments in favor

Advocates of Ordinance 2997 argued that it was important to regulate marijuana growth in the county because of the widespread growth of cannabis not used for medicinal purposes. The county sheriff's department reported that, in 2013 alone, 141 unlawful marijuana cultivation sites were discovered. The sheriff's department supported the board of supervisors in their attempt to limit the amount of marijuana grown in the county, allowing only for regulated growth of medical marijuana.[5]

The Board of Directors of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce released a statement advocating a "yes" vote on Measure N in which it wrote, “The Lake County Chamber supports the rights of legitimate medical marijuana patients as was intended by Proposition 215. However, we have heard from members of the chamber and others throughout the county who are concerned about the cultivation of marijuana in their neighborhoods and the county as a whole.”[9]

Official arguments

The following was submitted as the official argument in favor of Measure N:[6]

The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a comprehensive Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance in December for good reason: to protect Lake County residents, visitors, and businesses from the violence and intimidation that often accompany residential marijuana grows and their drug processing operations.

Many businesses, residents, and visitors have suffered because of wide spread back yard grows in residential areas:

1. Resort owners report that guests leave early and cancel reservations for following years because of the visible drug culture here; County and Chamber of Commerce efforts to relocate businesses here fail for the same reason

2. Long-time residents feel they lost the safe use of their homes and yards because of the threatening behaviors of surrounding growers and guards under the influence; many have been threatened and intimidated for complaining, and one family fled when growers began to follow their little girl home from school

3. Tourists are reluctant to visit here because of national and international coverage of grower behavior in the county; one visitor was robbed, beaten, and shot at.

Measure “N”:

  • Protects those who need medical marijuana in compliance with the Compassionate Use Act
  • Prohibits outdoor grows in Community Growth Boundaries – most of our residential neighborhoods
  • Allows indoor grows throughout the County
  • Increases grow site security measures
  • Allow limited outdoor grows outside Community Growth Boundaries
  • Curtails the insanely lucrative commercial growing – estimated at up to $2,500 per pound by one NORML economist
  • Strengthens environmental protections
  • Improves enforcement capabilities
  • Allows for co-operative grows.

Vote “Yes” on Measure “N” to take back our neighborhoods.

Vote “Yes” on Measure “N” to keep Lake County visitor-friendly.

Vote “Yes” on Measure “N” to help grow our business base and economy.

Remember – your vote is secret. [7]

—Thomas Guthrie, Ann E. Guthrie, Lynn A. Hollenback, Jeffrey B. Markham and Gerald N. Shurdell[6]

Opposition

Note: In this article, those who opposed Ordinance 2997 and were in favor of its repeal, advocating a "no" vote on Measure N, are referred to as "opponents."

N Means No campaign logo

Opponents

The committee sponsoring the petition was called the Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation (CABICC). The Lake County Citizens for Responsible Regulations and Lake County Green Farmers Association were members of the Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation. Both of these organizations were behind a referendum petition to overturn a similar county ordinance in June of 2012.[4]

Members and supporters of the CABICC include:

  • Emerald Unity Coalition
  • NORML
  • Americans for Safe Access
  • Emerald Growers Association
  • Green Farmers
  • California Cannabis Industry Association
  • United Food and Commercial Workers union
  • Patients Rights Committee.

The following individuals signed the official arguments in opposition to Measure N:[6]

  • Ed Robey, retired Lake County Supervisor
  • Joey Luiz, Clearlake City Councilmember
  • Wanda Quitiquit, Community Activist
  • Ron Green, Attorney for Emerald Unity Coalition
  • Margaret Greenley, Middletown business owner

Arguments against

Supporters of the referendum effort to repeal Ordinance 2997, advocating a "no" vote on Measure N, claimed that the ordinance was too restrictive and impeded legal growers from producing marijuana for medicinal use. Opponents of Measure N also argued that the ordinance targeted harmless growers and did not contain provisions to restrict illegal grows on public land and producers of harder drugs such as methamphetamine.[4]

CABICC Campaign Manager Daniel McLean said, "One thing that we hear from the community development department and the Sheriff's Department is that they do not have the funds or resources to adequately enforce the laws. So, to create a new rule that's more restrictive and doesn't create any new funding doesn't fix the problem."[4]

Official arguments

The following was submitted as the official argument against Measure N:[6]

There is already a compromise marijuana cultivation ordinance in place which does not provide a funding source to pay for enforcement.

Now the Supervisors have proposed a new ordinance which, besides numerous other flaws, still provides no funding mechanism to pay for its enforcement. This is Measure N.

Vote NO on N! It criminalizes nearly every patient who grows even one plant outdoors, and could punish the frail and elderly with up to 6 months in county jail! Instead, we should be fighting the methamphetamine epidemic and associated violence.

Cannabis laws are changing. It’s only a matter of time before cannabis is treated much like alcohol. Why waste precious county resources creating criminals out of ordinary people?

The true criminals are growing marijuana by trespassing on public and private lands, stealing water, polluting the lakes and creeks, and poisoning wild life. We need aggressive action to stop this activity. Measure N provides no funding to accomplish this.

NO on N! It’s environmentally unsound, forcing patients to cultivate indoors in residential areas, which increases electrical usage and our carbon foot print.

We need a marijuana cultivation ordinance that imposes strict rules for patient cultivators and makes cultivation operations follow the same rules as other agricultural crops. We need a cultivation ordinance that raises the money needed to regulate legal cultivators and prosecute illegal growers. Measure N does not accomplish these goals. People collectively cultivating medical cannabis should pay the necessary fees to ensure proper county over sight.

N means NO! Tell the Supervisors to go back to the drawing board and create an ordinance that will be just and enforceable. Lake County’s financial health and public safety depends on it.

Vote NO on N! We can do better. We need an ordinance that deals effectively with the issue and can be enforced. [7]

—Ed Robey, Joey Luiz, Wanda Quitiquit, Ron Green and Margaret Greenley[6]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in California

The group behind the referendum petition campaign turned in approximately 4,200 signatures, which was almost twice the 2,115 valid signatures required to qualify the referendum for the ballot. The county registrar of voters certified the signature petitions, forcing the county commissioners to decide between voting to directly repeal the ordinance and letting voters decide the issue on the June 3, 2014 primary election ballot. On January 4, 2014, the commission voted to put the measure on the ballot.[2][3]

County supervisors' vote

Supervisors Rob Brown, Jim Comstock and Anthony Farrington cast the votes that pushed the measure to the June ballot. Board Chair Denise Rushing abstained, and Supervisor Jeff Smith voted against putting it on the ballot because he wanted to wait to make the decision until other options were weighed.[2]

Similar measures

Recreational

Colorado:

Defeatedd Town of Palmer Lake Marijuana Legalization Referendum (April 2014)

Maine:

Michigan:

Wisconsin:

Approveda Dane County State Legalization of Marijuana Referendum (April 2014)

Medical

California:

Approveda Lake County Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance 2997 Referendum, Measure N (June 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Imperial Beach "Compassionate Access Ordinance" Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Act (June 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Napa Medical Marijuana Dispensary Referendum (November 2014)

See also

External links

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Basic info

Support

Opposition

Additional reading

References