The Butte County Board of Supervisors will begin a discussion on Tuesday that could lead to the crafting of new marijuana cultivation regulations, less than two months after a previous ordinance was defeated.
County staff will ask the supervisors to consider appointing a committee to work out a new ordinance that would specify how the county would regulate marijuana grows, according to a report attached to the meeting agenda.
Community members and county staff would sit on the committee, which would be expected to come up with the new ordinance by Dec. 31, under the staff's recommendation.
This recommendation comes after Butte County's marijuana cultivation ordinance was overturned by Measure A's defeat in the June 5 primary by a 55 percent majority, leaving the county without a clear way forward in the struggle to regulate marijuana grows.
The ordinance would have restricted how many marijuana plants Butte County residents could grow based on the acreage of their plots and required potential growers to submit medical information as part of the permitting process, according to the report.
The prohibition on growing marijuana on parcels of land less than half an acre and the requirement to submit medical information were unacceptable to voters, according to the staff report.
Staff also listed other options for the supervisors, including modifying the previous ordinance and submitting it for reconsideration, or banning marijuana cultivation altogether.
However, banning the growth of medical marijuana would conflict with existing state law that allows the limited cultivation of medical marijuana, according to the staff report. The countywide ban would likely be challenged in court and defeated.
Modifying and resubmitting Measure A for consideration is also problematic, due to a law that prohibits reintroducing similar ordinances within a year after they are defeated by voters, according to the report
The board could also wait to take action until pending California Supreme Court cases are resolved, but that option could take up to two years and could result in vague interpretations of state law, according to the report.
The California Supreme Court is expected to interpret state marijuana law within the next nine months, said Scot Candell, a San Rafael-based attorney who has represented a Butte County marijuana growing collective.
The court will likely set a framework for marijuana regulation that includes zoning regulations on where marijuana dispensaries can be opened, Candell said. Dispensaries will probably be zoned like adult entertainment parlors that must be a certain distance from schools.
The court's interpretation will probably not provide for a specific plant limit on personal medical marijuana growers, and will instead base the amount of plants allowed on a case-by-case review of the grower's needs, Candell said.
The board also will decide whether to approve the adopt some additional expenditures the 2012-2013 county budget, according to the agenda.
The expenditures include an additional $32,000 to the county library and an additional $55,000 to the county's economic development budget. The $55,000 will help compensate for an $87,000 loss to the economic development's budget, according to the report.
The public also will be able to comment on the presentation of Butte County's 2011 agricultural crop report when it is presented to the board. The board will also hear an update on Butte County's capital improvement program, a ten-year plan that includes service and transportation infrastructure.
The board also will decide whether some of Butte County's prisoners can be housed in the Sutter County Jail, as provided for in a three-year agreement between the Butte and Sutter sheriff's offices. The only prisoners eligible for the transfer would be non-violent, non-sexual, "non-serious" offenders with less than 180 days remaining on their sentence.
Butte County Board of Supervisors
25 County Center Drive,
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