Pubdate: Wed, 28 Dec 2011
Source: Record Searchlight (Redding, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Record Searchlight
Author: Alayna Shulman


A group of local medical cannabis advocates is trying to gather 10,000
signatures to overturn a recent ordinance Shasta County supervisors
passed that restricts marijuana growing for county residents.

Nor Cal Safe Access member Dave Shore said about 30 people have been
gathering signatures outside medical marijuana dispensaries and less
controversial local businesses like Walmart for about a week now.

While county supervisors passed two ordinances regulating medical
marijuana earlier this month "" one banning dispensaries and one
introducing cultivation restrictions for county residents "" the
group is seeking a referendum only for the growth ordinance, Shore

The group is focusing on the growth ordinance because it's more
harmful, he said.

"We tried to put this together to help the general public," Shore

The ordinance bans growing inside residences but allows it in detached
accessory structures and sets limits for outdoor growing regardless of
how many patients live at a residence.

The gardens have to meet minimum setbacks from parcel lines and
adjacent residences.

The ordinance also sets a 1,000-foot no-grow zone between cultivation
sites and sensitive areas, such as schools, school bus stops or churches.

The group needs 6,544 valid signatures to land the referendum on a
special election ballot, said Cathy Darling Allen, Shasta County clerk
and registrar of voters.

Shore said the group is shooting for 10,000 signatures to make sure
enough of them are valid.

The growth ordinance narrowly passed with a 3-2 vote, with supervisors
Les Baugh and Linda Hartman dissenting and essentially calling for
stricter regulations.

But Shore said the group is seeking the referendum because the new
regulations already are "critically flawed."

"They sat there at the meeting, they went through them, they admitted
there were tons of faults with their idea and just passed it anyway,"
he said.

If the group gathers enough valid signatures by Jan. 13, 30 days from
the date the ordinance passed, supervisors will have a choice of
either retracting their approval or putting the issue on a special
election ballot.

Supervisor Glenn Hawes said he won't go back on his approval of the
growth ordinance.

"I'm not changing my vote," he said. "Let them try to do it if they
want to try. That's their right. But I'm not going to change my mind."

Hawes said he's not opposed to letting people use medical cannabis if
they really need it, but there are too many dangerous commercial
grows, especially in his rural District 3.

He said there were two large grows adjacent to schools in his

"That really upset me," Hawes said. "They were asking to get punished
when they plant it next to the

school. To me, they were just asking for it."

But Shore said he thinks the new restrictions severely limit the
population of the county that can legally grow.

"The 1,000-foot rule from things like school bus stops if you applied
that to a community like Happy Valley, Round Mountain "" any actual
community "" it wipes out the entire town," he said.

Collecting enough valid signatures by Jan. 13 would grant at least a
few months of relief for county growers.

Darling Allen said implementation of the new law would be postponed
until the election takes place, which could be either in June or November.

Supervisors Leonard Moty and David Kehoe, who also voted for the law,
did not return calls seeking comment on the referendum.

It's been an unusually controversial year for Shasta County
government, Darling Allen said.

While it's not common to see a referendum come through her office,
this one and a petition circulated earlier this year opposing a
shopping center in Churn Creek Bottom have made the year something of
an anomaly, she said.

"This is a pretty contentious year," she said. "Folks are clearly
interested in being engaged in the democratic process."

The group will continue to gather signatures at local businesses and
in neighborhoods, Shore said.

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