Advocates push to repeal Lake County marijuana ordinance

Glenda Anderson, The Press Democrat

Marijuana advocates on Wednesday submitted thousands of signatures in an effort to qualify a Lake County referendum for the June ballot.

The referendum is aimed at repealing a Lake County marijuana ordinance they consider too strict.

Referendum promoters turned in an estimated 4,222 signatures, about 50 percent more than they need to qualify for the June ballot, said Lake County Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley.

The signatures now must be verified as belonging to registered Lake County voters. At least 2,115 of the signatures must be legitimate to qualify for the ballot, Fridley said.

The referendum was launched by a group calling itself the Community Alliance to Ban Illegal Cannabis Cultivation. A member of the group, Michael Horner, said it is working with the Green Farmers, Patients Rights Coalition, Emerald Growers Association and Americans For Safe Access.

He said the group believes the best way to rid the county of “transient criminal growers” is to enact responsible regulations. He said advocates are working on an alternative ordinance.

At issue is a Dec. 17 revision to the county's existing pot ordinance. The revision has been suspended pending the outcome of the referendum.

It would have banned outdoor marijuana cultivation in residential neighborhoods in the unincorporated county. Those seeking to overturn the ordinance say medical marijuana patients find that it's too difficult and expensive to grow indoors.

Many cities on the North Coast have banned outdoor growing in order to control the odors and crime associated with marijuana growing.

The revised Lake County ordinance would have allowed outdoor growing on parcels larger than an acre, with up to a maximum of 48 plants on agricultural parcels larger than 20 acres.

The ordinance includes rules intended to prevent electrical fires at indoor marijuana-growing operations and control environmental damage from erosion and pesticides.