WHY ARE WE HERE? – SOME HISTORY.
November 5, 1996 California voters passed Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996. The proposition was a statewide voter initiative authored by Dennis Peron, Anna Boyce RN, John Entwistle, Jr., Valerie Corral, Dale Gieringer, William Panzer, medical marijuana activist and founder of the L.A. Cannabis Resource Center Scott Tracy Imler, attorney Leo Paoli and psychiatrist Tod H. Mikuriya, It allowed patients with a valid doctor’s recommendation, and the patients’ designated Primary Caregivers, to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use, and had been expanded to protect a growing system of collective and cooperative distribution. In 2000, I received my doctor’s recommendation from Dr. Mikuriya and thus began my legal status as a cannabis patient in Tehama County, CA.
The County, for the most part abided by the law set out in 215. Little attention was given to the many patients that cultivated on their properties throughout the County. The Sheriff did contact those parties that had larger commercial grows, but after determining that they were legitimate 215 operations, he was on his way.
The County did pass an ordinance requiring patients to register with the County Health Department, but very few, if any did that, because of the very real threat that had they disclosed their whereabouts and identity, the more redneck factions of the Law Enforcement Community would commence harassment. Future events would justify their reluctance to comply.
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So for the next two decades, patients grew, 215 compliant commercial grows existed, well drillers were employed, growing commodity dealers became successful in their ventures and all was well on the 215 front. That’s not to say black market grows didn’t exist. They did, as they had for many, many years; in the backwoods and forests, along stream and river banks and jungles, and in row crops like corn or milo. Then in 2016 someone had this idea to legalize cannabis throughout California. It sounded like a great idea, open the cannabis industry up so the mom and pop operations across the State can finally be legitimate.
BUT HOLD THE BOAT HERE. The text of Proposition 64 limited the Personal cultivation of marijuana and allowed cities and counties to enact and enforce “reasonable” regulations to “reasonably” regulate actions and conduct related to personal cultivation. (Section 11362.1). For me and many others this was a huge mistake. First, courts had determined that a patient is allowed as much cannabis as recommended by the doctor. Secondly, all of us in the more rural areas of the State knew that if the local jurisdictions were given the authority, the days of growing our small plots of organic bud in the sunshine were doomed. How right we were.
Some argue that 215 regulations are still in effect, but that has yet to manifest broadly through the legal system. Truth be told, even prior to the passage of Proposition 64 our local Supervisors schemed to eliminate cannabis in the County. As is evident in the following paragraphs:
Ordinance 1924, approved on 9-15-2009, was an interim urgency ordinance of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Tehama temporarily prohibiting the establishment or operation of marijuana dispensaries, Chapter 17.08.070 et al of the Tehama County Code.
Ordinance 1929, approved 10-27-2009, was an ordinance of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Tehama extending Ordinance Number 1924 and temporarily prohibiting the establishment or operation of marijuana dispensaries, Chapter 17.08.070 et al of the Tehama County Code.
Ordinance 1936, approved 4-6-2010, was an ordinance of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Tehama adding Chapter 9.06 to the Tehama County Code pertaining to marijuana cultivation, Chapter 9.06.010-9.06.220 of the Tehama County Code.
Ordinance 1946, approved 8-31-2010, was an urgency ordinance of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Tehama extending Ordinance Numbers 1924 and 1929 and temporarily prohibiting the establishment or operation of marijuana dispensaries, Chapter 17.08.070 et al of the Tehama County Code.
Ordinance 1957, approved 6-28-2011, was an ordinance to Prohibit marijuana dispensaries, Chapter 17.09.010-17.09.050 of the Tehama County Code.
Ordinance 1980, approved 8-6-13, was an ordinance amending Ordinance 1936, Chapter 9.06.010-9.06.220 of the Tehama County Code.
Ordinance 2040, approved 5-2-17, is an ordinance amending Chapter 9.06 of the Tehama County Code pertaining to Marijuana Cultivation, Chapter 9.06.010-9.06.230 of the Tehama County Code. They passed this ordinance declaring cannabis to be a nuisance and prohibited any outdoor cultivation. They also require anyone wishing to cultivate to do so in a bunker style structure. Obviously, the costs associated with establishing such a structure are astronomical and severely limits patients ability to grow their own medicine. Along with these onerous regulations the Board also adopted Abatement procedures and fines of $1,000/ day for violations of the ordinance.
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None of these Ordinances mentioned above were reviewed under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Even though prohibiting cannabis cultivation is known to exacerbate the environmental consequences of unregulated cultivation.
The Board of Supervisors declared they were mandated by the voters to oppose legalization of cannabis to any extent. The votes were 12,192 against Proposition 64, which included many cannabis growers and advocates that saw the flaw in the law, to 11,995 for Proposition 64. The difference was 697 votes. And that’s what they’ve hung their hats on. 27 of the 46 precincts that voted against were out in the rural areas, however 19 urban precincts, found in the Cities of Corning and Red Bluff actually voted for the proposition. Even so, today neither city has approved cultivation or commercial cannabis uses.
In the County, hundreds of people were served abatement notices and levied tens of thousands of dollars in fines in 2017. The County’s actions caused quite a stir. A local Political Action Group called Tehama Tomorrow established a subcommittee called the Cannabis Research Committee (CRC) whose purpose it was to collect information about cannabis and what other jurisdictions are doing about implementing Proposition 64.
As the word spread throughout the County, the CRC became a group of nearly 100 members and supporters. CRC members accountant Kenn Rieders and retired teacher Carol Parsons were instrumental in developing the group. Jason Browne was brought in to the CRC as our resident consultant on all things Cannabis. I was invited to CRC to share my expertise as a freshly retired Planner for the County, adept at writing zoning ordinances. Having served as the senior planner for the County with nearly twenty years of experience, I felt confident that I could help draft an ordinance that would preserve the welfare of the County and meet the spirit of the newly enacted State Law. The group spent several months drafting a proposed ordinance and eventually presented it to the Board of Supervisors. The Board of Supervisors showed no interest in accepting the ordinance; however they did put together an Ad Hoc Committee to meet with the public in order to review their regulations.
IT WAS A SET UP! Almost every person that showed up to support regulation of cannabis were summarily abated the next grow season. But that is another story to be told in a future Blog.
Kenn, Carol, Jason, and I decided to continue the fight for what is right and we created The Cannabis Liberation League-CA as a reiteration of the California Liberty Alliance. We are a 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation whose purpose is to protect and defend the property rights’ of qualified individuals, organizations and businesses within California; to protect and defend the privacy rights’ of qualified individuals, organizations and businesses within California; to protect and defend the medical rights’ of qualified individuals domiciled within California, and; In furtherance of these ends, to engage in all forms of educational, legal and political action that are in accordance with State and Federal laws.
Next: PROPOSED ORDINANCE FOUND TO BE SUBJECT TO CEQA WHILE EXEMPTED BY THE STATE. CRC FACED WITH AN $80,000 BILL TO CONTINUE.