Group announces intention to fight zoning change

Skye Kinkade

Those who oppose the reduction of the buffer zone between some cannabis businesses and schools were quick to take action Tuesday, announcing they have begun a referendum campaign to overturn the Mount Shasta City Council’s Monday evening decision.

The council took the final step to reduce the buffer between marijuana businesses involved in the wholesale manufacturing of cannabis-related products with no public access and schools, daycare centers and youth centers from 600 to 450 feet.

The Keep Cannabis Away From Kids coalition has 30 days to collect the signatures of 10 percent of Mount Shasta city voters. If a sufficient number of signatures are submitted to qualify the referendum, the ordinance reducing the buffer zone would be suspended until the council takes action to either repeal the ordinance, place it on the next general election ballot or call a special election for voters to decide the issue.

If the council decides to repeal it, the buffer zone would remain at the current 600 feet. If the council chooses to put the ordinance on the ballot, the city would pick up the tab, said Deputy City Clerk Kathy Wilson.

The coalition includes “several hundred citizens of Mount Shasta, including educators, law enforcement, first responders, parents, teachers, medical professionals and taxpayers,” according to a press release from Keep Cannabis Away From Kids.

The Mount Shasta City Council approved the ordinance’s amendment at a second and final reading Monday evening, April 22 by a vote of 3-1, with Mayor Pro Tem John Stackfleth casting the no vote. Mayor Barbara Wagner and councilors Jeffrey Collings and John Redmond voted yes. Paul Engstrom recused himself.

Mount Shasta had 2,225 registered voters as of Feb. 10, 2019, said Siskiyou County Clerk Laura Bynum, so proponents of the referendum would need to get the signatures of 223 registered Mount Shasta City voters to be successful. Once the signatures are presented to Wilson they would go to Bynum’s office to be certified.

Wilson would then present the results of the referendum to the council, she said, before they make their decision on how to proceed.

“We are very disappointed that the city council has ignored so much public opposition to their ordinance to reduce the buffer zone to protect children,” said Tom Scovill, Chairman of the Keep Cannabis Away From Kids coalition. “Voters were promised in Prop 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, a 600 foot protective buffer between marijuana businesses and sensitive areas where children are present such as day care centers, schools and youth centers.Many cities in California are going beyond a 600 foot buffer to require a 1,000 foot buffer. It is virtually unheard of for any city to enact just a 450 foot buffer.”

Scovill pointed out that throughout the city’s consideration of the proposal, many opponents attended council meetings to express their opinion.

He also pointed to the fact that the Mount Shasta Planning Commission did not recommend the action.

Scovill is a retired educator who spent 32 years as a teacher and administrator with the Siskiyou and Shasta County Offices of Education, living in the Mount Shasta area since 1975, according to the release.

“Our opposition to this ordinance is not about opposing cannabis per se, but about reducing the protective buffer zone protecting children that citizens were promised would by maintained by licensing authorities such as the city of Mount Shasta,” said Scovill. “We want to keep cannabis away from kids. It is concerning that in a fairly short period of time the city has gone from a 1,000 foot buffer, to a 600 foot buffer and now to a 450 foot buffer, and that city staff has proposed a 300 foot buffer. We need to draw a line at 600 feet so that children and youth have a safe space to learn and play.”

For more information about the Keep  Cannabis Away From Kids coalition contact Scovill at or (530) 918-8163.