Pubdate: Tue, 05 May 2015
Source: Times-Herald, The (Vallejo, CA)
Copyright: 2015 The Times-Herald
Author: John Glidden


The next chapter in Vallejo's medical marijuana dispensary saga will 
continue in the courts.

The City of Vallejo has filed lawsuits against two proposed MMD 
ballot initiatives, asking the court to declare both initiatives invalid.

In an email to the Times-Herald on Monday, Donna Mooney, Chief 
Assistant City Attorney, stated that the city will also ask the court 
to order that a ballot title and summary for each initiative is not required.

In documents submitted to the Superior Court in March, the city 
contends the (first proposed) initiative is "facially invalid on both 
constitutional and statutory grounds, and if garnered sufficient 
signatures and the voters approved it, would prevent its enforcement."

According to the proposed initiative, MMDs which have paid the 
Measure C tax, are located at least 600 feet from the nearest school 
and are in compliance with the state law would be allowed to continue 
operation. The ballot measure would force any marijuana business 
operating in Vallejo prior to March 10 that seeks to relocate, and 
any new marijuana business that wishes to open, be subject to land 
use ordinances, rules and regulations the city council may adopt.

In 2011, around 76 percent of city voters approved Measure C, which 
imposes a business license tax rate of 10 percent on the sale of 
medical marijuana products within the city.

The council in January voted to shut down all MMDs operating within 
the city - even if they were paying the Measure C tax - and to stop 
collecting the tax altogether.

In February, several MMDs representatives were turned away from City 
Hall as they attempted to pay $50,000 in Measure C taxes.

The city contends the initiative, if approved, would give the MMDs, 
as corporations, the power to continue operations notwithstanding 
local or federal law to the contrary.

State law states that initiatives may not "name or identify any 
private corporation to perform any function or to have any power or 
duty," the city said in its lawsuit.

The city also argues that the initiative would alter local variance 
law, which is in violation of state law and the city's charter.

A variance is a request for a change from the zoning code for a 
certain development standard because of an unusual situation tied to 
a particular parcel of land.

"Variance is for something particular to the property, not the use of 
the property," the city states in its lawsuit.

Finally, the city claims that the initiative is illegal because it 
allows spot zoning by "(singling) out certain parcels of land for 
special benefit."

Mooney confirmed Monday that the city has submitted a legal challenge 
to a second MMD ballot initiative which was submitted to the city on 
April 16. According to law, the city attorney's office has 15 days to 
provide a ballot title and summary for each ballot initiative for 
circulation of signatures.

Last Friday was day 15 for the second ballot initiative, which if 
approved by voters would allow MMDs to continue operations if open on 
or before January 1, and have paid the Measure C tax.

The initiative contends that, if approved, it will allow safe access 
to medical cannabis in Vallejo for qualified patients whose doctors 
recommend cannabis as authorized by state law and ensure the city 
continues to collect the Measure C tax, to pay for general fund 
services and programs such as police, fire protection, road repair 
and other general fund expenditures as determined by the city council.

The proponents also argue that the proposed ballot measure would 
protect jobs of those working in the MMDs.

In an email to the city council and officials last Thursday, James 
Anthony, an attorney representing the Measure C 11 - the MMDs which 
paid the tax before the city stopped collecting - asked for the city 
to provide a title and summary for the second ballot initiative.

"Such blatant disregard for democratic process, undermining the 
rights of voters, smacks of Jim Crow tactics for denying minorities 
the vote," Anthony wrote. "You are better than this. Debate the 
issues with us (and) disagree with us.

"But do not cheat and violate the law," he added. "That simply 
violates the whole civil relationship of trust in law and order and 
the democratic process."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom