Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jun 2016
Source: Chico News & Review, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: Meredith J. Cooper


New County Initiative Poised for November Ballot Outlines Sales of 
Medical Marijuana

The day before the primary election, on June 6, representatives from 
the Inland Cannabis Farmers' Association dropped off a special 
delivery at the Butte County Clerk-Recorder's Office. Inside more 
than half a dozen boxes were thousands of signatures from Butte 
County voters, potentially enough to get a new initiative-the Medical 
Cannabis Cultivation and Commerce measure (aka MC3)-on the November ballot.

"The big picture is that we need to stop the tactical skirmishes," 
said Jessica MacKenzie, ICFA president. "We looked at what makes 
sense-from the time a plant goes into ground to the time a patient 
picks it up as medicine in the dispensary?"

In that way, MMRSA set up systems for permitting as well as 
environmental review and taxation. But it also offers local 
jurisdictions power to regulate, should they choose to, many of the 
specifics. In reaction to the passage of MMRSA, for example, many 
cities and counties across the state-including several within Butte 
County-moved to pass laws, some of them outright bans, on growing and 
dispensing cannabis. If passed in Butte County, MC3 would replace 
Measure A, the law regulating cultivation. It also would remove the 
current prohibition on dispensaries.

"If we just regulate cultivation, what happens afterward?" MacKenzie 
asked. "The cartels do not care about our property or the 
environment. Rogue growers who come in do not care what they leave 
behind, or about being good neighbors.

"The guy on the corner does not care how old your kids are," she 
continued. "But dispensaries will card your children. A regulatory 
market beats a black market any day of the week."

According to the initiative summary, MC3 "would generally regulate 
the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution, transportation 
and storage of medical cannabis within the county." It points to 
existing law-including MMRSA-to aid in many of the specifics. For 
example, MMRSA outlines how to permit grow sites and makes it legal 
to sell-and therefore tax-cannabis. Locally, zoning laws will be the 
most helpful tool for figuring out where different steps in the 
process would best fit.

Butte County Counsel Bruce Alpert announced during Tuesday's Board of 
Supervisors meeting that there were over 10,000 signatures on the 
initiative, but that they had not yet been verified because of the 
primary election. He could not be reached for comment following the 
meeting, but he did say the matter would be coming before the board soon.

"One of the things people keep saying is, 'Why not wait till after 
November?'" MacKenzie said of opponents. In November, California 
voters could be asked to legalize pot for recreational use. If they 
do so, however, it could take another couple of years to get all 
those regulations in place. ICFA would rather jump into the game 
early to ensure local growers aren't edged out by Big Pharma and Big 
Tobacco, she said.

"We want time to allow people who have been fighting for this to have 
a chance to get their business models in place, these small cottage 
farms in place," she said. "That way they can build their brands and 
demand for their brands. If we wait until 2018 to start and compete 
with Philip Morris, other counties will be ahead of us."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom