Mendocino County marijuana activists are campaigning to defeat an anti-pot measure placed on the June 3rd ballot by the county board of supervisors in the midst of a county-wide backlash against illegal marijuana growing.
The measure, aptly dubbed Measure B (=Bad) would overturn the county’s landmark Personal Use of Marijuana Initiative, Measure G (=Good), which was approved by 58% of the county’s voters in November 2000.
Measure G declares the county’s support for decriminalization and directs law enforcement not to arrest personal use marijuana growers medical or otherwise – for 25 plants or less.
Measure B would repeal Measure G and reduce the county’s cultivation limits for medical marijuana patients from 25 plants to the state minimum of 6.
Opponents (“Noobies”) have formed a No on Measure B campaign committee www.nomeasureb.org. In their ballot argument, they call Measure B “a backwards step towards marijuana re-criminalization that targets small-scale, personal use growers instead of large-scale commercial operators and organized criminals who are actually causing the problems in Mendocino County.”
Measure B was placed on the ballot in response to mounting public complaints against illegal marijuana growers, who are accused of abusing Prop. 215 for personal profit, invading residential neighborhoods, trashing the environment, annoying neighbors, not paying taxes, and attracting crime.
Noobies reply that these problems are due to large-scale commercial growers, not small-time personal use gardeners or patients, who under Measure B would be subject to felony charges for cultivating just seven plants.
“Mendocino County will not be made safer by cracking down on small personal use growers,” they argue. “Instead, it will be made less safe by diverting police resources. Sheriff Tom Allman has said that reducing patient plant guidelines to six plants would be ‘a burden on law enforcement’ under which his deputies ‘will not be able to focus on any other public safety issue.’ (Press Democrat 3/17/07.”
Noobies are facing a tough battle, as powerful interests have lined up in support of Measure B. One leading proponent is Ukiah City Councilman John McCowen, sponsor of the city’s notorious anti-marijuana-odor ordinance , which restricts medical marijuana gardens to enclosed spaces only within city limits and limits cultivation to six plants. McCowen is joined by a majority of county supervisors and city council members in Ukiah, Willits and Fort Bragg, plus a self-styled “libertarian” businessman, Ross Liberty.
The county’s leading newspaper, the Ukiah Daily Journal, has also endorsed Measure B, reversing its previous tolerant stance on marijuana. “We do this because we believe that Measure G is in large part the reason marijuana growing in this county has gone from a tolerated underground business for people living in the hills to massive commercial operations for hundreds of people living not only in the hills, but in our residential neighborhoods,” the paper editorialized (Dec. 13th).
Noobies agree on the need to control underground growers, but say that the way to do so is to license and regulate commercial gardens, not crack down on small-time growers.
Noobies must work to convince the voters that Measure B is a bogus diversion from the county’s problems. Although most Mendocino residents benefit from the marijuana economy either directly or indirectly, resentment of out-of-control growers is strong. “I know a lot of people who are voting for Measure B, even though they support legal marijuana,” says one long-time supporter, who says she herself was upset when illegal growers trashed her rental property.
Defeat of Measure B is a high priority for marijuana reformers. “This marks the first serious challenge to a voter-passed decriminalization initiative,” says California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer. “We need to send a message to the politicians that the solution is regulation, not criminalization.” California NORML is supporting the No on Measure B campaign and strongly urges its supporters to do likewise. Donations should be sent to:
No on Measure B
705 N. State St #115
Ukiah, CA 95482