The June 7, 2016 elections on Measures T and U in Siskiyou County are the result of referendum petitions filed by a grassroots coalition of medical cannabis supporters who are now campaigning to encourage people to vote.

Siskiyou County residents will have the opportunity to vote in a special election on June 7 to determine whether two ordinances related to medical cannabis cultivation will be approved.

The elections on Measures T and U are the result of referendum petitions filed by a grassroots coalition of medical cannabis supporters who are now campaigning to encourage people to vote.

A yes vote is a vote in favor of the growing bans established by Siskiyou County in December 2015.

The ordinances only apply to unincorporated areas of Siskiyou County. Cities within the county have their own cannabis ordinances.

Both measures require a vote of 50% plus 1 to pass.

Local laws

In December 2015, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors passed ordinance 15-18, which establishes code enforcement procedures, and 15-19, which establishes new restrictions and bans outdoor cultivation of cannabis.

In January, referendums were filed to bring the ordinances to public vote.

Measure T

If Measure T passes, it will approve Ordinance 15-18, which changes the definition of a marijuana plant, updates building requirements, prohibits mobile delivery, and states that no person can cultivate cannabis without obtaining a license from the county.

The ordinance also points out that the county’s natural climate favors cannabis cultivation, stating, “marijuana growers can achieve a high per-plant yield because of the county’s favorable growing conditions.”

It states that general enforcement provisions have been ineffective, “and procedures specific to marijuana are necessary to address flagrant and pervasive illegal cultivation.”

Formal or informal complaints are not necessary to initiate enforcement of this ordinance because, “the board of supervisors recognizes that persons affected by code violations are frequently reluctant to file complaints, for fear of retaliation.”

Siskiyou County Code currently exempts any plant under 12 inches in height from the definition “marijuana plant.” Measure T deletes this exemption and makes all marijuana plants subject to the total number of plants allowed.

Current law allows for cannabis cultivation on a parcel while a permanent residence is under construction. This measure requires a legally established, occupied residence connected to an approved sewer system.

The enforcement process involves a notice to abate violations within five days, unless there’s an immediate threat to public health or safety. Penalties are up to $500 per day for the first violation and up to $1,000 per day for subsequent violations.

Measure U

If Measure U passes, it will approve Ordinance 15-19, which establishes new limits, conditions and restrictions related to cannabis cultivation. It prohibits outdoor cultivation of cannabis, stating cultivation must occur indoors, in an uninhabited accessory structure or greenhouse built to specified standards.

The greenhouse must be completely enclosed and constructed of solid materials that cannot be easily broken through. The ordinance states that plastic sheeting, regardless of gauge, doesn’t satisfy this requirement. Additionally, the greenhouse must be surrounded “by a secure solid minimum six-foot high fence located within ten feet of the greenhouse, and equipped with a lockable gate.”

Accessory structures cannot be located in the front yard, and must maintain minimum setback of 12 feet from all property lines.

The maximum electrical panel for the cultivation area is 50 amps, and light systems cannot exceed 2,000 watts.

Accessory structures must be equipped with odor control filtration and ventilation systems.

Currently, Siskiyou County Code determines the number of plants allowed by parcel size. A maximum of 6 mature plants are allowed on parcels less than on acre, and a maximum of 24 are allowed on parcels over 20 acres. This measure would limit the number of plants to 12 on any parcel, regardless of size.

Assembly Bill 21

Those in the cannabis community who worked to get the measures on the ballot say they are campaigning now to educate the public about the election.

Mount Shasta Patients Collective owner Elizabeth Tabor, a dispensary owner, said she needs to keep track of frequent updates to legislation at the state and local level.

Tabor said California Assembly Bill 21 is an example of a recent update that changed everything for cities and counties struggling to implement cannabis ordinances by March 1, 2016.

She said the deadline was a major factor leading to cultivation bans in cities and counties throughout the state.

Approved by the Governor in early February, AB 21 removed the March 1 deadline and declared cannabis to be an agricultural product. It also states that cultivation licenses must be obtained from both the state and the city or county, and that a person cannot apply for a state license if it’s in violation of a local ordinance.

The complete text of AB 21 is on the web at: https://legiscan.com/CA/text/AB21/id/1323457

Tabor said AB 21 bill relates to the local election because if the county passes a cultivation ban, people won’t be able to obtain licenses to grow cannabis.

AB 21 does allow qualified Proposition 215 patients to grow their own cannabis as long as it’s within a canopy of 100 square feet, and the patient is consuming all of the medicine. It also allows caregivers to grow for up to five qualified patients in an area not to exceed 500 square feet.

More information

Tabor said anyone with questions or concerns is welcome to attend Siskiyou Alternative Medicine meetings at the Mount Shasta community center on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Meeting schedules and more information can be found at http://www.siskiyoualternativemedicine.com/

A question and answer session at the Fort Jones community center is scheduled for Saturday, April 2, from noon to 4 p.m.

Election information can be found on the county’s website: http://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/content/current-election-information