Members of the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee met Thursday afternoon in the Board chambers in what was supposed to be a final dress rehearsal for their presentation of preliminary recommendations to the Supervisors on Tuesday. Instead, County Counsel Dana McRae presented a proposed a new chapter to the existing ordinance that would make Santa Cruz one of the first counties in the State to develop a local license for commercial cultivation.
The C4 had come to agreement earlier that the county should permit commercial activity but had struggled with specific language around size and location. They were set to offer recommendations that the Board develop an interim license allowing commercial grows of up to 100 square feet on parcels of at least five acres and to eliminate the restriction that sellers be tied to local dispensaries and drop the 99 plant cap on all grows.
McRae said her office was paying attention to the views being expressed by the Committee. Specifically the switch from plant count to canopy size and lifting the restriction on “in county only” sales were included into the new rules.
Cooperation, Collaboration and Community Action Favored By Most
As many as 200 people came out for a public meeting in Ben Lomond Wednesday night to share their opinions and learn about new and proposed regulations around medicinal cannabis particularly as they relate to the Santa Cruz Mountains and the County in general.
The meeting began with a presentation about the new California law “The Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act” (MMRSA) from Santa Cruz attorney Sasha Brodsky and Monterey film maker and executive director of the Monterey NORML, Ryan Munevar.
A large graphic demonstrated the complexity of the new law; over a dozen types of licenses will be issued by the state, some as early as this spring*. A variety of different state agencies will play a role in creating the rules licensees will be subject to and a Chief of the new Bureau of Medical Marijuana is being sought who will coordinate the players with a goal to be up and running by no later than Jan 2018.
By Johnny Green
California’s Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced this week that the organizers of the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative (CCHI) 2016 can begin collecting signatures to qualify the initiative for the November 8, 2016 California state election. The grassroots organization has 180 days to circulate petitions and collect 365,880 registered voters signatures that must be submitted to county elections officials by April 25, 2016. The CCHI 2016 allows for the legalization of Cannabis in the state of California by citizens 21 years or older.
To raise the funds for this effort, the CCHI 2016 is launching a pledge drive to solicit funding from businesses and individuals to help the funding of the Initiative that legalizes cannabis in the state of California. The campaign has set a goal of $900,000 in pledges that needs to be raised to fund professional petition gathers across the state. Every dollar raised will go to hire the professional petitioners.
CCHI 2016 proponent and activist Michael Jolson said, “We are confident that we can qualify the CCHI 2016 with this grassroots effort with both a mass mobilization of volunteers and an infusion of financial support to hire professional petitioners. With the re-legalization of Cannabis Hemp, we can help restore our number one renewable resource on Earth as we create a billion dollar economy through the emergence of Cannabis and Hemp industries. There are over 10,000 uses for Cannabis Hemp of which 50,000 commercial products can be made”
By Lanny Swerdlow
The importance of the Shaw case cannot be underestimated on so many different fronts. In a nutshell, Lynette Shaw who opened the first legal medical marijuana dispensary in the world in the small northern California town of Fairfax in 1997, had her collective closed by the maleficently evil US Attorney Melissa Haig in 2012.
She wanted to reopen but was prevented by a permanent federal injunction that had been issued previously forbidding Ms. Shaw from opening a medical marijuana dispensary anywhere in the U.S.A. forever! Ms. Shaw fought back in court and in September the injunction was lifted by Judge Charles Breyer, the same judge that had originally imposed it. She is now free to open her collective again in the welcoming town of Fairfax.
The lifting of the injunction by Judge Breyer was based on the Rohrabacher/Farr amendment to the Department of Justice (DOJ) funding bill. The amendment prevents the DOJ from spending any money enforcing marijuana laws against medical marijuana patients and providers in states that legalized the use of marijuana medicinally.
By Mike Liszewski, Americans for Safe Access
By now, everyone in the medical marijuana reform movement has seen the results in Ohio, where the commingled recreational and medical cannabis voter initiative (Issue 3) put forth by ResponsibleOhio was defeated at the polls by a nearly 2:1 margin. Aside from sanctimonious hand wringing from recreational proponents treating patient access as a political weapon against those who had concerns with the implications of Issue 3’s licensing structure (which has been talked about ad nauseam and won’t be discussed in detail here), nobody has yet asked the question, “is it fair to patients to anchor their safe and legal access to a measure that also includes non-medical use?” Given the 2:1 failure of recreational couple with the fact that support for medical-only was 84% in at least one recent state poll (28 points higher than Issue 3 in the same poll), it seems like safe access was doomed more by the anchoring to recreational than the non-merit based oligopoly.
ASA has long maintained a position of neutrality on the issue on recreational cannabis reform, and only evaluates them based on their impact upon patients. As an organization, ASA did not come out for or against Issue 3 based largely on its recreational focus, but looking at the polling data, it seems extremely likely that the commingling of recreation held medical back from passing.
The Board of Supervisors may soon get a recommendation from their citizens committee to create a clear path to legitimacy for cannabis businesses in the County. Twenty three years after 76% of voters approved local Measure A, providing that citizens should be allowed access to medical marijuana, the County may soon make legal the process which provides the ability for patients to gain that access without having to grow and process themselves.
At the 6th meeting of the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) all thirteen appointees expressed agreement that their focus should be on establishing an acceptable local licensing scheme to permit commercial cannabis cultivation. In the first vote they’ve taken to consider a specific policy recommendation the group unanimously decided to move toward a County administered licensing system that would likely include at least cultivators and processors. They will begin working on the details at their next meeting.
New Headquarters For 2016 California Legalization Efforts Opens Upon Closure Of The All American Cannabis Club (A2C2)
SAN JOSE, CA (Oct. 28, 2015) – The All American Cannabis Club (A2C2) lost its case against the city of San Jose, based on the proximity of a church, and was forced to close last week. In the past year San Jose has shut down more than 85% of the storefront cannabis clubs in the city. Dave Hodges, founder of A2C2, has decided to maintain the lease and convert the location to a Headquarters for the 2016 legalization efforts in California.
“It’s unfortunate the city has decided to give money to street drug dealers and limit access for medical marijuana patients,” said Hodges. “With the small number of locations, unlawful age restrictions, and constraints on available products, there is more ‘weed sold on the streets’ in San Jose than ever before. This needs to change, and full legalization is the only answer.”
The Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) will consider local licensing as a way to bring county regulations into line with new state laws as they hold their 7th meeting on Tues, 9am at the Simpkins Center.
At their last meeting the committee voted to begin discussing licensing as specific policy they might recommend the Board of Supervisors consider. The committee agreed to push back or eliminate some additional planned presentations from outside experts and county staff in order to begin substantive discussions.
Currently all commercial cannabis cultivation is illegal in Santa Cruz County. Some protection from prosecution exists for growers who abide by a list of restrictions. In Sacramento new legislation has been signed that will provide growers as well as other commercial cannabis operations with state issued licenses. Local jurisdictions can still be the ultimate arbiters as they can ban or enforce more stringent regulations than the state has prescribed.
By Lanny Swerdlow
There has been a little noticed and for the most unheralded paradigm shift in the ongoing battle to free the weed.
Cops have come on board the License, Regulate and Tax Train. The genie is out of the bottle and they have apparently given up trying to put her back in.
California’s recently enacted medical marijuana regulation bill, AB 266, set up a system for the legal distribution of marijuana and the cops not only supported it, they helped write it. Granted AB 266 sets up a distribution system that is expensive, unwieldy and unfair, but it is workable.
The Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) could begin focusing on policy recommendations at their next meeting on Tuesday which will begin at 9 am at the Simpkins Center off of 17th St.
Since Governor Brown has now signed into law the trio of bills creating the statewide Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation the committee will review the legislation with an eye toward identifying the necessary steps that will need to be taken to bring local ordinances into line.
Also on the agenda for the fifth meeting of the 13 citizen appointees will be another “study session” this time featuring Kristen Kittleson, Resource Planner with the Fish and Wildlife Commission and Matt Johnson, County Environmental Coordinator.