Mendocino County Marijuana Personal Use Ordinance, Measure B (June 2008)
|Voting on Marijuana|
|Not on ballot|
Measure B was about how many marijuana plants residents of Mendocino County can legally grow. In 2000, voters in the county had approved Measure G, which set the limit at 25 plants. Measure B reduced the limit to 6 plants.
The measure was targeted at what some perceived as a growing problem in Mendocino with large-scale, criminal growers of marijuana. Opponents of Measure B said that it also targeted personal use growers.
Marijuana in Mendocino
When Measure G passed in 2000, it gave Mendocino County the most liberal rules in the United States for growing marijuana. The value of marijuana grown in the county subsequently became $1.5 billion a year. Revenues from marijuana at one point constituted two-thirds of Mendocino's economy.
Specific provisions of Measure B
Specific provisions of Measure B are:
- That the amount of marijuana allowed for medical marijuana patients will be the same as the limit set by state law to apply throughout California.
- The state limit, presently 6 mature plants and 8 ounces of processed marijuana per patient, will replace the higher 25-plant limit that has existed in Mendocino County since 2000.
- Repeal of Measure G, which ordered the county sheriff to make enforcement of all marijuana laws his lowest priority.
- Under G, prosecutions for less than 25 plants “per single case” was prohibited.
- These final, certified, results are from the Mendocino County elections office.
The day after the election, it was reported that Measure B had passed with about 55% of voters approving it. However, later in election week, Measure B opponents briefly believed that the electoral fate of "B" still hung in the balance, when it was disclosed that approximately 40% of votes cast in the election had yet to be counted. However, the "yes" side prevailed in the final count.
After June 3
In the wake of the June 3 victory for B, its opponents collected initiative petition signatures to re-instate a law similar to Measure G. However, County Counsel Jeanine Nadel declined to write the necessary ballot title and summary for the measure, asserting that the proposal would be unconstitutional. Supporters of the November ballot initiative then sued the county to force it to put the new initiative on the ballot. This lawsuit was unsuccessful.
Measure B campaign
What supporters said
Supporters of Measure B said that commercial marijuana cultivation in Mendocino County was out of control and the county has been ineffective in dealing with the severe impacts it has caused. The root of the problem, they argued, is that county officials don’t know if the voters want them to take any action against profit-seeking commercial marijuana growing that, in their view, was masquerading as “medical marijuana.”
These supporters portrayed Measure B as providing a voter mandate for protection from the problems they saw as arising from larger-scale marijuana farming, while not interfering with legitimate medical marijuana.
Specific arguments made by Measure B supporters were:
- Measure G "has made us a magnet for marijuana growers who move here for a quick profit."
- Public safety has suffered. "Home invasions by armed robbers have terrorized innocent families. Growers bring guns and attack dogs into residential neighborhoods in response. Local residents feel unsafe on their own property during harvest season."
- Marijuana farming has become a public nuisance. "The strong odor from marijuana plants unreasonably impacts neighbors who in some cases live only a few feet away."
- The environment has suffered. "Illegal diversion of streams, spills of diesel fuel, hazardous waste, fires, poisoning of wildlife, erosion and massive dumping of plastic debris and other trash is causing an environmental disaster in Mendocino County."
- Schools are hurt. "Schools continue to be impacted with several cases of backyard marijuana growing over the fence from local schools. Further, local students are increasingly turning to marijuana cultivation as a 'career path'".
- Roads have become dangerous. "Speeding vehicles driven by growers, their workers and customers have impacted rural roads. Some roads are pounded into dust by diesel delivery and water trucks."
Radio personalities suspended
Feelings in Mendocino around Measure B ran so high that local radio station KZYX suspended K.C. Meadows, a volunteer programmer and Mary Aigner, a ten-year employee, for expressing their opinions about Measure B during a show on April 10. Meadows said she supported B. Later during the controversial show, Aigner entered the sound booth, commenting that the neighborhood in which she lives has "been overtaken by pot growers" and that "There is a lot of pot being grown here where we live, in Anderson Valley. They said it's medical but it sure looks like commercial pot growing to me."
Two unsuccessful lawsuits were filed against Measure B before Mendocino County Superior Court Judge John Behnke to keep it off the June ballot. Newspaper publisher Richard Johnson filed one lawsuit. The legal arguments for keeping the measure off the ballot offered before Judge Behnke were manifold, including:
- It violates the single-subject rule.
- Measure B nullifies itself, because it says Mendocino County will regulate its medical marijuana industry while remaining subject to all state and federal laws.
- Point 77 of California's Section 11362.77 does not give counties the right to do what Measure B would do.
Judge Behnke signalled in a hearing on April 11 that he was unlikely to pre-emptively remove the measure from the ballot, saying:
"Under most circumstances, I find pre-election review of an election, with an eye to canceling that election, is not warranted. It's more appropriate to challenge an outcome of a ballot measure after, rather than before, an election has occurred."
On April 25, Judge Behnke ruled against the plaintiffs.
Donors to defeat Measure B
The San Francisco office of the National Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) donated $1,000 to the campaign to defeat Measure B. The Organic Cannabis Foundation, based in Santa ROsa, donated $500.00.
The question on the ballot:
|Measure B: "Shall the ordinance titled "The Repeal Of (Measure G) Mendocino County Code Chapter 9.36 Cannabis Personal Use Ordinance For Mendocino County, And Adoption Of New Guidelines For Maintenance And Possession Of Medical Marijuana That Do Not Exceed The Minimum State Limits" be approved? Yes or No"|
- "Yes on B" News blog
- "Yes on Measure B Coalition website
- "No on B" website
- Text of Measure B
- Ballot arguments
- Mendocino considers repealing legal pot law
- California NORML
- Mendocino and the marijuana wars
- Self-Help Law: Marijuana decriminalization
- California County May Scrap Pro-Pot Law Amid Furor Over Crime, June 3, 2008
- Misplaced marijuana backlash
- Mendocino County June 3 election results
- Mendocino sheriff endorses pot measure repeal, May 13, 2008
- Sheriff endorses Measure B
- San Francisco Chronicle, Pot is burning issue on Mendocino ballot, May 31, 2008
- San Diego Union Tribune, Measure to curb marijuana growing in Mendocino approved
- Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Vote on Measure B
- Press Democrat, "Redone pot initiative headed to court", July 17, 2008
- These arguments appeared on the "Yes on B" website.
- Willits News, KZYX suspends Aigner, loses Meadows, from pot fallout, April 16, 2008
- Heads roll at Free Speech radio
- The Willetts News, "Measure B arguments heard", April 16, 2008
- Willetts News, Court rules against Johnson, Laguna, April 25, 2008
- The Press Democrat, Advocacy groups back efforts to defeat pot measure, April 17, 2008