Medical marijuana proponents in Shasta County have apparently succeeded in stalling a new ban on outdoor cultivation, at least until November.
Activists handed more than 13,000 voter signatures to the city Feb. 27 in an effort to force the new ordinance onto the ballot in November. There, they hope, voters will reject it as an intrusion on the rights of MMJ patients and caregivers.
The volunteers only needed 6,000 signatures, so it’s highly likely they succeeded in their push. That means the ordinance, which would’ve taken effect Feb. 28, will be put on the shelf until the November election.
Then the county’s voters will decide whether they want to keep the ban or do away with it.
Supporter Rick Arons said he was “amazed” by the number of signatures gathered and credited the county Board of Supervisors, which passed the ban in January.
“Without the help of the Board of Supervisors enacting an outright ban, we wouldn’t have the support we got,” Arons said. “They essentially created a perfect storm.”
The ban, which affects unincorporated areas of the county, passed at a tense supervisors meeting Jan. 28.
Someone had delivered what the county described as an “implied threat” against board members, though it was unclear whether it was connected to the marijuana issue. Because of that, supervisors cast their votes while surrounded by armed sheriff’s deputies following a dramatic presentation in which the sheriff himself portrayed the MMJ industry as a criminals’ den.
Cultivation bans have become the new tool de jour for conservative municipal leaders frightened by their sheriffs or police chiefs into believing medical weed is destroying communities and corrupting kids.
Fresno County has banned all grows, indoors and out, as has the City of Live Oak. A ruling by a state appellate court backed that policy up last fall, though pot proponents have sued to the California Supreme Court.
Residents and marijuana activists are fighting back, but fitfully. An effort to overturn the Fresno County ordinance fell far short of the necessary signatures, largely because voters had no idea their leaders had enacted a ban in the first place.
The courtroom effort to overturn the total grow bans in Fresno County and Live Oak has significant backing but still isn’t at the forefront of marijuana concerns in California – though it probably should be.
The campaign in Shasta County, meanwhile, has had much more immediate success. With that effort finished, activists say they now plan to challenge a similar ordinance in nearby Butte County.