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What Do You Want From Me?

We simply ask you to vote as follows in the November 2014 Election:

  • VOTE YES on MEASURE A - A is OK - It's adequate for for Medical Needs
  • VOTE NO on Measure B - B is Bunk - It's all about Big Bucks!

Please explain the November Ballot Choices

The key differences are :

  • Marijuana Plan Limits – Under Measure A (the board-backed ordinance), plants are limited by total canopy area, with a maximum of 150 square feet. Under Measure B (the grower initiative), plant limits go as high as 99 plants per parcel worth 100's of $1000's. This fosters the criminal pot-for-profit industry which has dramatically changed Butte County for the worse.
  • Who can complain? Under Measure A, anyone can complain. Under Measure B, you must live within 1500 ft. If you are the only one living that close to a problem grow, this makes your identity more obvious even if it is anonymous. By allowing anyone to complain, your identity is less likely to be exposed if you do complain.
  • Who can change the ordinance? Under Measure A, the board can change the ordinance through the normal public process. The proposed ordinance was developed after months of open meetings with significant public input. Under Measure B, it will require a vote of the people to make any changes. While this sounds superficially more "democratic," it undermines representative democracy by excluding the elected officials from the process. It will hamper the ability of our Board of Supervisors to govern in a flexible, timely manner. The costs and complexity of running initiatives will make it very difficult to enact changes in the future, even for routine, timely adjustments. It will remove the ability for citizens to request relief through their elected representatives. It will give an advantage to well-financed interests - and by the way, the pot industry generates LOTS of cash.

How Has Butte County Been Affected by Excessive Marijuana Cultivation?

  • Strong skunk smells, allergic reactions during fragrant mature “budding out” stage of plant growth
  • Visual blight – ugly fences, trailer encampments, slashed hillsides
  • Massive increase in vehicular traffic, water and soil trucks etc, especially on country roads, swarms of seasonal “pot trade” workers
  • Danger – influx of rude, criminal-minded “entrepreneurs” with little regard for public safety, peace and quiet; armed guards, vicious dogs, intimidation, fires and explosions due to “Butane Honey-Oil” laboratories
  • Environmental Destruction – due to wanton grading practices, use of poisons and pesticides, excess heavy traffic in sensitive areas
  • Crime – armed invasion robberies and murders associated with valuable pot products
  • Water Table Threats – Pot plants use up to 9 gal/day. Imagine 200,000 pot plants being watered at the expense of aquifers you depend upon for your household, your livestock, your life.
  • Loss of property values due to deteriorating neighborhoods and scenery
  • Loss of your peace and quiet!

How much can a single pot plant produce?

Conservatively, about 1-2 pounds, but well-tended plants can easily yield 4 lbs or more.

How much is a pound of pot worth?

Locally, probably under $2000/lb. On the East Coast, $5000-$7000/lb

Under Measure A ordinance, how much pot can a person produce?

Assuming the minimum limit of 50 square feet, two very large plants yielding nominally 4 lbs apiece, or several smaller plants with perhaps comparable yields. Depending upon parcel size, the limits double or triple to 100 square feet or 150 square feet. On lots of 1/2 acre or less, only indoor grows up to 120 square feet are allowed.

Under Measure B, How much pot can a grower produce?

Anywhere from 12 plants to 99 plants depending upon parcel size.

Hey - Isn’t Pot Legal in California?

Technically, marijuana is not legal in CA. Per proposition 215, medical use is “an acceptable defense” for cultivation, possession and transport in a court of law. Selling marijuana is illegal under CA and Federal Law.

How can the county restrict medical marijuana growing? Isn’t this against Prop 215?

According to the California 3rd District Court of Appeals, which ruled on March 26, 2014 in favor of the City of Live Oaks’ total ban on marijuana cultivation:

There is no "unfettered right to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes…Regulation of medical marijuana cultivation does not conflict with Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act approved by voters in 1996, or the 2003 Medical Marijuana Program approved by the Legislature

Will this ordinance make criminals out of regular folks?

Technically, it is a land-use ordinance handled by Code Enforcement, similar to other land-use laws. It is intended to protect neighborhoods and the environment, not put people in jail. Growing pot for profit is already a crime under state and Federal laws.

How Will Legitimate Medical Marijuana patients Meet Their Needs?

The proposed ordinance put forth by the Board of Supervisors allows from 50 to 150 sq ft of cultivation depending upon parcel size. According to testimony by the Butte County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s office, 50 sq ft can sustain 1-2 plants yielding upwards of 4 lbs apiece. This should suffice for most medical patient’s needs. A hardship clause allows special-needs cases to be appealed.

Why switch to area-based vs. plant count-based?

Plant yields can vary from 1 lb to 10 pounds under ideal conditions, depending upon the particular strain, how much area the plant is allowed, etc. Limiting the total canopy area restricts the total plant mass and thus the effective yield. Fifty sq. ft. can support two very large plants or a number of smaller ones. Effective yields of 8 lbs. should be achievable, enough for most personal medical needs. Larger parcels can supply medical pot for several patients’ needs. However, the potential for $100’s of thousands in tax-free illegal profits will be eliminated.

What is the history of this issue?

OK, you asked. it's a rather long story...
In 2013, just before the marijuana growing season, the Butte County Board of Supervisors passed a Medical Marijuana Growing Ordinance, with the hope that it would restrict the wide-open marijuana growing industry that was gaining a foothold in the hills surrounding the east side of the county. The Board was following the lead of many other north state counties in restricting outdoor marijuana grows through its zoning powers. The Board stipulated that if the ordinance didn’t work to lessen the problems associated with large outdoor grows, it would bring the ordinance back for revision.

It didn’t work. Pot Profiteers, from far and wide, descended on Butte County in a new “Green Rush” in 2013: flattening forests, bulldozing huge gashes into the fragile wild land hills, diverting streams and creeks, sinking water wells at an unprecedented pace which caused long time neighborhood wells to go dry, and the harvest-time stench to become unbearable. Violence escalated to unimaginable heights: vicious dogs roamed free to guard their masters’ commercial crops, guns and gunshots became common, quiet country roads became major thoroughfares for drug traffic, patch rip-offs and home invasions and murders tied to the medical marijuana “trade” escalated. Enforcement of the ordinance was virtually non-existent, as the ordinance, at the pot profiteers insistence, required that before there could be enforcement that anyone who complained had to sign their name to a complaint. Few, out of fear, did.
In January 2014, the Board, recognizing the 2013 ordinance allowed too many unregulated commercial marijuana grows, voted for more reasonable restrictions on outdoor grows to cut out the commercial profiteering which was driving many of the environmental and criminal problems of the 2013 ordinance. The new 2014 ordinance reduces 99 plant plantations to 50, 100 or 150 square feet garden plots (depending on acreage) which still allow growers to harvest up to 10 to 30 pounds of marijuana bud for their personal medicinal needs. It also does away with the requirement that citizens have to sign a complaint before county code enforcement officers can do their job.

The growers responded with a referendum petition. They spent $65,000 and paid a professional agency to gather more than the required 7600 signatures, possibly using less-than-honest tactics in some instances. The petition succeeded in putting the new ordinance on hold, forcing the Board of Supervisors to put it on the November 2014 ballot for voter approval. Thus the 2014 growing season was allowed to continue under the 99-plan maximum, continuing the trend. Subsequently, in May the growers filed an Initiative (Measure B) with their own version of the Ordinance. This initiative will be on the November ballot alongside the one passed by the board of supervisors (Measure A).

The Grower’s Initiative is very similar to the 2013 ordinance (which didn’t work) but with one glaring difference: The ordinance cannot be changed by the Board of Supervisors, it can only be changed by a vote of the people. This defeats one of the main benefits of representative democracy: allowing our elected representatives to make intelligent decisions on our behalves. Butte County has a fairly lean process to enact changes, our supervisors are responsive and accessible. Forcing ordinances to a popular vote is very expensive and time-consuming. It will make routine adjustments or improvements extremely difficult and expensive to enact. It will erect financial barriers and basically give power to those who can afford an expensive campaign.