Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jun 2012
Source: Chico Enterprise-Record (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Chico Enterprise-Record
Author: Roger H. Aylworth


OROVILLE - Butte County's supervisors Tuesday launched a process aimed
at crafting a new medical marijuana ordinance to replace the one that
was rejected by county voters last week.

That measure was a strongly worded ordinance that put strict
limitations on the locations where medical marijuana could be
cultivated and on how many plants could be grown on what size lots.

"It was an interesting Tuesday last week," Paul Hahn, Butte County's
chief administrative officer, told the Board of Supervisors, during
the panel's regular meeting.

"We have no ordinance (anymore)," he explained. Right now, according
to Hahn, the only local controls on cannabis cultivation fall on the
criminal side of the ledger.

Hahn said, in the wake of Measure A, the supervisors had a number of

One they didn't have was to just reinstate the ordinance the voters
had killed. He explained any ordinance the county enacted for the next
12 months must be "significantly different" from what was just
rejected. To make matters worse the phrase "significantly changed" is
not as precisely defined as he would wish.

Hahn said the board could adopt a wait-and-see position before doing
anything, because there are a number of cases working their way
through the appellate courts.

"They (the court rulings) may provide some clarity as to what we can
and cannot do," said Hahn.

While it seemed Hahn favored the wait-and-see approach, it was evident
most of the supervisors didn't.

Chico Supervisor Maureen Kirk said it made sense to her to let the
courts make their rulings.

But Supervisor Larry Wahl of Chico demanded to know "which one" of the
court cases should they wait for. Kirk didn't answer but a voice from
the audience shouted, "All of them."

Wahl and Oroville Supervisor Bill Connelly said they were frustrated
because they were hearing from constituents who claimed to have been
frightened and overtly intimidated by marijuana growers. The pair said
they felt the need to do something to protect them.

Richard Tognoli, an advocate for medical marijuana who has often
spoken to the board, said the last ordinance ran into trouble because
both the supervisors and the marijuana supporters got angry with one

He said growers were talking about creating an association aimed at
policing its own members to avoid "bad neighbor" issues.

Dan Levine, another supporter of the growers, said nobody was ever
opposed to reasonable regulations.

"This is a business. Medicine is a business, whether we like it or
not," and it is in the best interest of the business to weed out the
"bad apples that are disrespectful of their neighbors," said Levine.

"Good luck on policing your own. If they will threaten me, and they
do, then they will threaten you," said Connelly to Levine.

Connelly and Wahl said something had to be done to protect the people
on the other side of the fence from the growers.

Without taking a vote, the panel advised Hahn to develop a process to
craft a new ordinance. The board made it clear they want to draw in
representatives of marijuana interests, as well as county staff,
community members and others to help craft something that will be a
reasonable compromise for all sides.

Hahn said he would come back to the board for its July 31 meeting, not
with an ordinance, but with a proposal for trying to create one.

He said the last thing he wanted to see was a public hearing filled
with 600 people who wanted to yell at the supervisors, as happened at
least three times during the spring 2011 hearings on the recently
voter-voided ordinance.
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