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City Of Vallejo Asks Court To Prevent Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

vallejo medical marijuanaCitizen initiatives are one of my favorite things about democracy. Politicians are supposed to represent the will of the voters that elected them, but I think anyone with a brain knows that politicians rarely follow through on what they are supposed to be doing. That’s why citizen initiatives are so important. They are the one true way that voters can impose their will on the political process.

So it makes me very sad to hear that the City of Vallejo in California is trying to prevent its city’s citizens from even pursuing ballot initiatives that would challenge the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. Per the Times Herald:

The City of Vallejo has filed lawsuits against two proposed MMD ballot initiatives, asking the court to declare both initiatives invalid.

In an email to the Times-Herald on Monday, Donna Mooney, Chief Assistant City Attorney, stated that the city will also ask the court to order that a ballot title and summary for each initiative is not required.

In documents submitted to the Superior Court in March, the city contends the (first proposed) initiative is “facially invalid on both constitutional and statutory grounds, and if garnered sufficient signatures and the voters approved it, would prevent its enforcement.”

According to the proposed initiative, MMDs which have paid the Measure C tax, are located at least 600 feet from the nearest school and are in compliance with the state law would be allowed to continue operation. The ballot measure would force any marijuana business operating in Vallejo prior to March 10 that seeks to relocate, and any new marijuana business that wishes to open, be subject to land use ordinances, rules and regulations the city council may adopt.

In 2011, around 76 percent of city voters approved Measure C, which imposes a business license tax rate of 10 percent on the sale of medical marijuana products within the city.

The council in January voted to shut down all MMDs operating within the city — even if they were paying the Measure C tax — and to stop collecting the tax altogether.

So the citizens of Vallejo voted for a measure that allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to exist, and it passed by over 3/4 of the votes. The Vallejo City Council then overrode the will of the voters by declaring all medical marijuana dispensaries illegal. Now the citizens of Vallejo want to challenge the City Council’s decision, and re-establish what they have essentially already approved, and the City Council is suing to try to prevent such an effort from even getting off the ground. This is America right? Don’t we have a democracy? How is this situation legal? I hope reverse lawsuits are filed against Vallejo, and I’m hopeful that justice will prevail.

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  • Gabe

    It’s up to the voters to vote them out of office. It’s happening State wide in PA when 88% of voters polled favor MMJ, but the politicians refuse to act. It makes you wonder who is funding their campaigns. The Pharmacuetical companies, the private prison industry, law enforcement lobbying groups, you name it! Until they all figure out a way to profit from legalization more than prohibition, they have no incentive to change things.

    A counter suit should absolutely be filed against the City Council, they are supposedly there at the will of the constituents. The voters have clearly spoken once.

    • Morgan Hannigan

      it’s happening. savemeasurec.com vallejopatientscoalition.com

  • Don’t think for a second think that PotHeads will support the Johnny come latelies

    To the victor go the spoils
    This should apply to the Marijuana revolution as well.

    No licenses should go to the anti-pot people that were against this victory.

    Only those PotHeroes who were incarcerated, lost jobs or assets etc etc etc… should get our support $$$ Period. We are a cohesive group (numbering in the 100’s of MILLIONS) and when we boycott the oppressors shops, they will soon be out of business.

    I read about one investor that owned over 60 licenses. Boo and boycott.

    Expensive pot licenses will be worthless real fast.
    http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pot-warriors-only-need-apply/x/4440681

  • EvanRavitz

    If three quarters of the people are being thwarted by the council, then it should be easy to recall the members.

    • Victronix

      In another city I would say yes, but here, there is very little communication amongst people — there is no free weekly, only one paper which few read, the city has been through a bankruptcy and the 2008 crash turned over many of the community.

      • Morgan Hannigan

        i believe it is being worked on, from what I hear… the recall on em all, that is… as is a referendum for their bad ordinance… We’re doing it all. savemeasurec.com, vallejopatientscoalition.com, and #savemeasurec #savevallejommj… thanks everyone

    • Dude

      Except Vallejo government is so bad that nobody cares anymore. The town is for all intents purposes abandoned. I think there was 12% election turnout for the Council Members/Mayor.

      It is a City with a great, waterfront location in the Bay Area, but the incompetence of the elected officials resulted in being the largest City to file bankruptcy, but Detroit has now taken that title.

      • LeslieZ

        Surprise! Vallejo voters DO care & there are recall petitions about to hit the streets for the mayor & 3 councilmembers. This mayor & his cohorts have pissed off so many factions in this town. Won’t they be shocked when all those independent factions come together & recall their sorry butts!

  • Morgan Hannigan

    http://www.savemeasurec.com please go there and stay up to date on this city’s medical cannabis fight.

  • newageblues

    Keep the booze flowing, Vallejo, and the cigs, and big pharm’s opiates. Who needs a stinkin’ safer alternative?

  • Fester

    The Vallejo Mayor is a religious whack job who’s done serious damage to the city but keeps getting elected by spewing scripture. The city can’t afford a full time police force but they should definitely stop businesses that employ people and pay taxes.

  • parmentano

    City Council members, including the Mayor. each received an extra one-year term in the last election so there will be no new votes for council members any time soon.

  • The situation in Vallejo is one of the more ironic in the state, but I’d frame the discussion differently. It’s not whether the City Council is wrong a) to ignore the will of the city’s voters, and b) to file suit so voters don’t get another crack at the issue. Those are both no-brainers.

    The larger issue, which looms large for Legalization 2016, is whether the state or the local yokels should be in charge of cannabis regulation. To me, this is another no-brainer: Consistent statewide regulations haven’t happened in the 19 years since Prop. 215 passed, and if anything the divide between state law and local ordinances is getting wider. Whether you’re talking about the state Legislature or the “local control” freaks on your City Council or Board of Supervisors, the biggest pipe dream being sold these days is that the locals have the ability to effectively regulate cannabis, and that’s assuming they have any interest in doing so. From the East Bay through most of the Central Valley, dispensary and cultivation bans are the norm. Just how legal will adult-use cannabis be if we adopt a similarly chaotic and confusing system?

    The good news for 2016, both for MMJ and adult-use cannabis, is that California voters have the ability to change this. We can say, right there in black and white, that cannabis regulation is NOT a municipal affair, as that term is defined in the California Constitution, but is instead a matter of statewide concern. We can choose not to “encourage” the Legislature to pass comprehensive regulations, but pass them ourselves with the full weight of the California initiative process. We can observe that alcohol sales, the state Vehicle Code and even solar power installations cannot be ignored or undermined by local regulations, and we can write pre-emptive state laws that would limit Vallejo’s ability to undo what state voters have done.

    Or, we can sit on our collective hands and pretend that this is a local problem, forcing patients and would-be business operators to go it alone in 58 counties and 500-plus California cities, one ordinance or local initiative at a time. That may sound like good public policy to some — mainly sheriffs, police chiefs and local elected officials — but those aren’t the folks who will win or lose the next election. It’s folks just like you who will weigh the next legalization measures, not just for what they say but for how and where they will be applied. Statewide cannabis regulations: Ask for them by name, and accept nothing less.

  • Dude

    Always smart for a Bankrupt City to prevent revenue from coming in.

    That kind of logic gets you on the Forbes Top 10 most miserable cities in America list. http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mli45lmhg/6-vallejo-calif/