Update: Marijuana Measures Abound On Today's North State Ballots

Jun 7, 2016

Update 6/8/16 6:46 a.m. 

North State voters decided on a number of marijuana-related ballot measures yesterday, and mostly tightened restrictions on growers.

Butte County measures G and H both passed. That means that marijuana cultivation will be explicitly excluded from the county’s Right to Farm protections, and the fines for out-of-compliance grows are increased and easier to issue.

Yuba County also decided on two marijuana measures. Measure A would have allowed limited outdoor cultivation, and Measure B would have allowed more dispensaries. Both were defeated.

In Nevada County, Measure W would have augmented the Board of Supervisors’ outdoor cultivation ban with voter approval; it failed, but the supervisors’ ban still stands. 

Original story posted 6/7/16

Voters in four North State counties are weighing in today on a seemingly perennial topic: medical cannabis. Again.

Twenty years after voters legalized marijuana for medical purposes, an often acrimonious debate continues.

Measures pushed by elected officials in Butte and Nevada County would further restrict growers. Meanwhile, a citizen-led initiative in Yuba County would move in the opposite direction, easing restrictions. At the same, voters in Davis are looking further down the road: weighing a set of local taxes should recreational marijuana become legal following November’s election.

Angelique Perez is a co-author of Yuba County’s Measure A. She said moves by officials further restricting medical marijuana drove her to get involved.

“Our local board of supervisors decided to just ban something that’s been legal for 20 years overnight,” she said.

In Nevada County, Measure W would restore a prohibition against growing marijuana outdoors. It allows up to a dozen pot plants to be grown indoors, but prohibits plants from both residential buildings and unpermitted structures. Outdoor cultivation is already banned in the county. Supporters complain outdoor gardens have spawned a Wild West atmosphere and rising crime. They in part blame a ‘green rush’ of out-of-state growers lured by easy profits.

Jessica MacKenzie, Executive Director of the Inland Cannabis Farmer’s Association said a proper regulatory response would deny permits to newcomers for a few years, rather than a blanket ban. She said like the prohibition of alcohol, prohibition of marijuana is a failure.

She said creating a legal market would solve many issues.

In Butte County, two measures are on the ballot. Measure G, defines marijuana as not an agricultural crop, excluding it from the county’s Right to Farm ordinance. The other, Measure H, doubles the existing five hundred dollar fine and allows officials to issue penalties more quickly.

Yuba County voters likewise face two measures. In contrast to elsewhere, these are aimed at easing restrictions. Measure A allows some pot plants to be grown outdoors, adds a per-plant tax and restricts complaints to nearby neighbors.  Measure B would allow more dispensaries. Jessica MacKenzie.

“It makes it less attractive,” she said. “I think the underlying point is simply that rather than saying ‘how can we further restrict something’ when that is not working, how do we regulate so that it does work?”

Although each measure tweaks the rules, reforms either way may prove short-lived. In November, voters will sound off on a state-wide proposition that may change much of the established order.