CA: Mendocino County Cannabis Measures AI, AJ Winning Voter Approval

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Voters on Tuesday night appeared to have soundly defeated a measure written by marijuana growers to regulate the cannabis industry in the county, opposing the initiative by 65.4 percent to 34.6 as of midnight, with 19.8 percent of ballots counted.

Separately, voters seemed likely to overwhelmingly approve a pair of measures drawn up by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors to tax marijuana cultivation and use the proceeds for an array of county services, voting 64.9 percent to 35.1 percent to pass the tax and 70 percent to 30 percent to pass the advisory measure, as of midnight on Election Night.

Measure AF, which was failing Tuesday night, would have authorized the county to issue permits for the cultivation, manufacture of edibles and topical solutions, laboratory testing, dispensing, distributing, and transporting, legally sanctioning all nodes in the countys network of cannabis enterprises in line with the regulatory framework passed by the state last year.

It would have expanded growing in all land use zones including residential and increased the number of plants allowed. It would also have prohibited enforcement of its provisions by police or sheriffs deputies.

Under Measure AF, permit applicants would have been required to be a resident of at least two years and own at least 51 percent of their business, a provision intended to prevent a so-called green rush of investment from outside the county.

The Yes on Measure AF campaign argued that prospective entrepreneurs in the countys cannabis industry, which spokeswoman Sarah Bodnar called the most important economic engine for the future of this county, need certainty regarding the regulatory status of their industry before they can invest and expand the industry. Passage of the measure would have ended what the campaign argued is de facto prohibition, she said.

Opponents decried the lack of environmental review (which is not required for ballot initiatives) and the reduction in minimum distances required between cannabis businesses and parks, schools and other residences. Supervisor John McCowen predicted that the measure would put neighbors in conflict with one another and introduce noxious environmental effects that would be difficult to remedy.

The Board of Supervisors continues to work on its own regulatory framework for marijuana, building on the countys 9.31 program, which has been in place for several years.

I believe that there was a wide understanding that this was special-interest legislation of the worst kind, said Mike Sweeney, a member of the No on Measure AF committee. The people of Mendocino County accept commercial marijuana, but it must be regulated in the interest of the entire community.

Bodnar, the spokeswoman for the Measure AF campaign, could not be reached for comment on Election Night.

Measure AI will authorize the county to tax cannabis cultivation sites in unincorporated areas of the county at 2.5 percent, which the Board of Supervisors will be allowed to increase starting in 2020 in 2.5-percent increments up to a maximum 10-percent rate.

Measure AJ advises the board to spend the majority of revenue on enforcing marijuana regulations, providing mental-health services, repairing county roads, and providing fire and medical services.

Both Measures AI and AJ were receiving voter approval in early returns on Election Night.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Mendocino County Cannabis Measures AI, AJ Winning Voter Approval; Voters Saying ‘No’ To AF
Author: Erick O’Donnell
Contact: (707) 468-3500
Photo Credit: Glen Stubbe
Website: The Ukiah