Mendocino County Supervisors Call for Legalization, Taxation, and Regulation of Marijuana

Ukiah, Jun. 5. The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors joined a growing list of California communities calling for an end to the war on pot. In a 4-1 vote, the Board approved a letter by Sup. John Pinches calling on Congress to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana. Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Cruz have also passed measures endorsing the "tax and regulate"concept.

"Whether you love marijuana or hate marijuana, in my opinion, it makes little sense to have it in the status that it's in right now,"declared Pinches.

"Communities throughout the nation are in turmoil over the legitimate used of medicinal marijuana, while also living in fear of criminal activity associated with large illegal marijuana grows and the abundance of high power weapons in small rural communities,"the letter states.

"California residents exist in a state of a 'tug-of-war' over the interpretation of federal, state, and local law,"it continues. "Calling upon local jurisdictions to adopt individual guidelinesŠis not the solution. The time has come to call upon our leaders in federal government to initiate, sponsor, and support legislation that calls for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of this multi-billion dollar crop."

North Coast Congressman Mike Thompson replied that legalization legislation would be a "long shot,"given that Congress has so far resisted even efforts supported by himself to legalize medical marijuana.

Mendocino county is a leading producer of marijuana, both medical and otherwise. The value of the county's crop was estimated at $5 billion in the board's letter, though California NORML regards this to be inflated, being closer to the value of the total crop in the state.

The county has been racked by chronic prohibition-related problems, including robberies, shootings, and large-scale grows on public lands. Many of the latter are attributed to so-called Mexican "cartels,"some alleged to be involved in methamphetamine and other drugs.

Marijuana enforcement has been an ongoing issue in Mendocino elections. Voters recently elected replacements for two good friends of the marijuana community, retiring Sheriff Tony Craver and deceased District Attorney Norm Craver. The new sheriff, Tom Allman, has good relations with medical marijuana advocates, while the new D.A., Meredith Lintott, is viewed as considerably more conservative than her predecessor.

Opposition to marijuana has been led by conservative Sup. Michael Delbar, who cast the sole vote against Sup. Pinches' letter. Sup. Delbar is sponsoring a measure to lower the county's limit for medical marijuana growers from 25 plants and 100 square feet of canopy to the state limit of 12 immature or 6 mature plants. Marijuana advocates oppose the measure, noting that 25 plants was the number adopted in the county's Personal Use of Marijuana Initiative, Measure G, approved by 58% of the voters in 2000.

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