Signatures submitted for Mount Shasta referendum

Skye Kinkade
Keep Cannabis Away from Kids chairman Tom Scovill signs paperwork for Mount Shasta Deputy City Clerk Kathy Wilson on Monday morning, when the group submitted triple the amount of signatures necessary to move their referendum effort forward. The signatures will now go to Siskiyou County Clerk Laura Bynum to be certified. Also pictured is referendum supporter Ed Pecis.

A group of citizens dedicated to preventing the adjustment of Mount Shasta’s buffer zone around cannabis businesses submitted 751 signatures to Mount Shasta’s Deputy City Clerk on Monday – more than triple the amount necessary to make their referendum effort successful.

“The response to our referendum drive has been extraordinary,” said Tom Scovill, chairman of the Keep Cannabis Away From Kids coalition. “In just three weeks, a third of the community stepped forward to sign the referendum. This is a clear indication that voters oppose the decision of the city council to reduce the buffer zone ... We call upon the city council to repeal this ordinance at the earliest opportunity.”

Siskiyou County Clerk Laura Bynum will now have the task of verifying the signatures to ensure that at least 10 percent of Mount Shasta’s registered voters have signed the referendum.

Mount Shasta had 2,233 registered voters as of Feb. 10, 2019, so proponents of the referendum would need to get the signatures of 223.3 registered Mount Shasta City voters.

If they meet that threshold, the referendum would be presented to the Mount Shasta City Council to take further action. In addition, the ordinance, which was passed on April 22, would be suspended.

The council would then have the choice to repeal the ordinance altogether, place it on a special ballot, or place it on the next general election ballot, which is in November of 2020.

In both cases, the city would be responsible for election costs.

Jefferson Soul, which runs a cultivation business on South Mt. Shasta Boulevard, recently purchased an 8,400-square foot building at 1119 Ream Avenue to expand its operations. The building is 530 feet from the “I AM” School in an area zoned for industrial use, prompting the city to consider reducing the buffer zone so they may expand their operation.

Changes to the ordinance 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 coalition expects that the referendum will easily qualify for the ballot,” said Scovill on Monday.

California voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana and other cannabis products with the passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, in 2016.

“A key element of the Prop. 64 initiative was the establishment of a 600 foot protective buffer between marijuana businesses and sensitive areas where children are present such as day care centers, schools and youth centers,” said Scovill. “Many cities in California have gone beyond a 600 foot buffer to require a 1,000 foot buffer. Despite this, in a virtually unheard of move, the city council of Mount Shasta has acted to reduce the promised protective buffer to just a 450 feet.”

Scovill said the Keep Cannabis Away form Children group does not oppose cannabis per se, but they want the buffer zone to remain unchanged.

“Children need a safe and protected space to learn and play,” said Scovill. “The citizens of Mount Shasta have spoken loud and clear that they do not want marijuana businesses operating in close proximity to children who are in school, day care or at a youth center. The city council should listen to the people and move swiftly to repeal this ordinance. Failing that, we will mount a vigorous and effective campaign to overturn the ordinance once it is placed on the ballot.”