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Mendocino Sheriff: No Stance On Pot Vote


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Ukiah, CA - An escalating war of words is being waged over Mendocino County's Measure B, which if passed in the June primary will repeal the nation's first initiative to legalize personal marijuana use.
By refusing to take an official position on Measure B, Sheriff Tom Allman had hoped to stay out of a divisive debate. Emotions are running high over an underground marijuana economy that now dwarfs legitimate agriculture production including timber harvesting.

But because a pro-medical marijuana group decided to include past Allman comments in its ballot argument against Measure B, the sheriff has reiterated his stance:

"I am not taking any position. That's not my job," Allman said.

At issue are Allman quotes in a ballot argument submitted by opponents of Measure B.

Allman is quoted as saying that if county voters were to adopt more restrictive state standards, it "would be a burden on law enforcement."

Allman is also quoted as saying his deputies "will not be able to focus on any other public safety issue."

The sheriff doesn't deny making the statements reported in The Press Democrat a year ago. But he said they've since been taken out of context.

"We've already stepped up our enforcement against major marijuana growing. It's already a burden," Allman said.

Measure B proponents argue that marijuana cultivation in the county is "clearly out of control." They want Measure B passed in hopes of keeping crime-related problems in check, while erasing the county's national reputation as a haven for marijuana growers.

Measure B would repeal a 2000 initiative that legalizes personal use of marijuana, and makes enforcement of pot-related laws the "lowest priority" for local law enforcement.

The 2000 pot initiative was passed by a large margin, which led medical marijuana advocates to lobby former Sheriff Tony Craver and the late District Attorney Norman Vroman. Craver and Vroman eventually agreed to adopt a local standard allowing up to 25 plants per individual for medical use. In comparison, state standards called for no more than six plants per person.

Since 2000, marijuana production has soared in Mendocino County, as it has statewide despite continuing state and federal efforts to crack down.

The ballot argument in support of Measure B contends that the relaxed county standard "has made us a magnet for get-rich-quick growers who hide behind medical marijuana as a cover for commercial marijuana production."

Opponents in their ballot argument said they fear Measure B "is a backward step towards marijuana re-criminalization that targets small-scale, personal use growers."

Note: Official's statements used by opponents of measure to repeal marijuana law.

Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2008 The Press Demorat
Contact: letters@pressdemo.com
Website: Santa Rosa Press Democrat
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