Pubdate: Tue, 24 May 2016
Source: Calaveras Enterprise (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Calaveras Enterprise
Author: Dana M. Nichols


If Successful, It Would Allow Only Personal-Use Cultivation

Proponents of banning commercial marijuana production in Calaveras 
County on Monday gathered signatures at grocery stores and other 
locations in hopes of placing its proposal on the ballot in November.

Bill McManus, a volunteer with the campaign, said he got about 25 
signatures during two hours parked near Vista Del Lago Drive and 
Highway 26 near Valley Springs. In late morning he moved to the 
MarVal grocery parking lot at the Valley Oaks Center in Valley 
Springs, where his first signature came from Hershall Roberts, 66, of 
Valley Springs.

"We've got lots of dope here," said Roberts, who retired after a 
career in the U.S. Army.

The commercial marijuana ban proponents got clearance to begin taking 
signatures three days behind a rival measure that seeks to establish 
a system to regulate the marijuana industry and charge growers fees 
based on the cost of providing government services. Paid signature 
gatherers for the marijuana regulation campaign have been busy at 
area grocery stores since May 17 and also collected signatures from a 
booth at the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee, which 
ended Sunday.

Both groups hope to obtain the required 1,571 valid signatures of 
registered Calaveras County voters by June 1, the date by which 
Calaveras County elections officials say signatures must be submitted 
in order to make the November ballot.

McManus said he and other volunteers were at the fair gathering 
signatures at two locations  the booth of Ann Radford, a candidate 
for Calaveras County supervisor, and a booth for the State of 
Jefferson, a group that proposes creating a separate state made up of 
rural Northern California counties.

In contrast to the campaign for marijuana regulation, all of those 
gathering signatures for the proposed commercial marijuana ban are volunteers.

"I like to call us the grass roots," said Vicky Reinke, chairwoman of 
the campaign for a ban on commercial marijuana cultivation. "We don't 
have any attorneys."

Calaveras County Elect-ions Coordinator Robin Glanville confirmed 
that commercial marijuana ban proponents Friday morning submitted the 
last of the paperwork required to allow them to begin gathering signatures.

Glanville said she advised both campaigns that they should seek to 
gather more than the minimum number of signatures to allow for those 
that prove not to be valid. Glanville said that her campaign reviews 
each signature to see if it matches the signature, name and home 
address on file for that voter's registration.

"We are going to check every single one," Glanville said.

Jeremy Carlson, the owner of Little Trees Wellness Collective in 
Arnold and one of the backers of the marijuana regulation initiative, 
said Friday that he did not yet have a count for how many signatures 
his group has gathered since signature gathering began on May 17.

"From what I have seen of the initial numbers, initially they were 
getting some pretty good numbers," Carlson said. "I would say we are 
probably on track for the June 1 deadline."

The rival petition campaigns come after the Calaveras County Board of 
Supervisors on May 10 adopted a temporary urgency ordinance to rein 
in the booming marijuana industry. The temporary ordinance was 
adopted because it will take as much as a year to complete 
environmental studies required before supervisors can adopted a 
permanent ordinance.

Meanwhile, changes in state law and cultivation bans in other 
counties created a rush to buy marijuana-growing properties in 
Calaveras County. The urgency ordinance temporarily bans the creation 
of new farms beyond those that were in operation on May 10.

The urgency ordinance is similar to the marijuana regulation 
initiative. Both create systems under which farms that comply with 
county rules can register with the county government. Both ban 
commercial cultivation in single-family residential zones.

Growers have a powerful incentive to follow county rules because 
proof of compliance with local rules is required in order to obtain 
state medical marijuana production licenses, which are being phased in by 2017.

One key difference between the initiative and measures that the board 
of supervisors might adopt is that voter initiatives are exempt from 
the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. That 
means no environmental studies have to be done for initiatives. So it 
could be faster to adopt marijuana regulation at the voting booth 
than by having supervisors approve it.

It also might be politically simpler. County supervisors initially 
balked earlier this year when they considered regulations to rein in 
the marijuana cultivation boom. Some supervisors said they would 
prefer that voters, rather than elected leaders, make a decision on 
how to regulate marijuana.

The issue is emotional, exposing generational and cultural rifts in 
the county. It pits businesses and retailers who benefit from the 
boom against residents who say they are enduring negative impacts 
including increased traffic on rural roads, odors from the plants and 
fear of the marijuana growers.

At the same time, the county has long had a libertarian bent. Even 
the proposal to ban commercial production, for example, has an 
exemption to allow individuals, if they are medical marijuana 
patients, to grow their own marijuana.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom