Pubdate: Thu, 29 Dec 2011
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Jonathan Edwards


The fight over farming marijuana as medicine is growing in Live Oak.

Growers are thinking about launching a campaign to recall the five 
Live Oak City Council members who voted to ban growing medical 
marijuana. The council voted for the ban Dec. 20, which takes effect Jan. 20.

"This town is disgusted with these people," said James Maral, who 
started the Live Oak Patients, Caregivers and Supporters Association. 
"This town is disgusted with what they're doing."

Council member Diane Hodges isn't getting the same reaction. About 20 
people approached her over the past eight days to thank her for 
voting to ban marijuana grows, because they stink and threaten public 
safety, she said.

"People are happy that we've had the ban," Hodges continued. "They 
support us, and they will back us."

Mayor Gary Baland said he thinks a push to recall him and his fellow 
council members will fail.

"I don't think it will gain traction," he said.

Forcing a recall election would require a Live Oak resident to gather 
signatures from a quarter of the town's roughly 2,700 registered 
voters, according to the secretary of state's website.

Danielle Ferguson, a ban opponent, rallied the troops over the last 
week, although she is not just focusing on Live Oak, but the 
Yuba-Sutter region. She's visited hydroponic and smoke shops in Yuba 
City, recruited new members and banded with other marijuana growers 
in the area who are facing bans.

"There are already connections being made," she said. "It's growing."

Maral and Ferguson declined to say how many members joined the 
association since they started it earlier this month. Ferguson said 
they had "a lot" of members, but the number of people supporting 
their cause didn't matter.

"It's not about the amount of people," she said. "It's about what 
we're trying to accomplish."

Maral and Ferguson are thinking about suing the city to stop the ban 
from taking effect. The ban violates Proposition 215, also known as 
the Compassionate Use Act, which voters passed in 1996, they claim. 
The law shields patients with marijuana prescriptions from prosecution.

"Unless something's changed, we have no choice," Maral said. "What 
else are we supposed to do?"

Maral said he is not ready to sue just yet and hopes the city backs 
down to avoid an expensive, long legal fight.

"We didn't do this. The City Council did this," Maral said. "I don't 
want to fight this fight."

Hodges didn't sound like she was ready to throw in the towel if a 
lawsuit hits the council's desk.

"If it happens, it happens," she said. "I think it would be worth it."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom