There were aspects of Tuesday's Merced County Board of Supervisors' session on marijuana law that are not covered by the narrow, but laudable focus of the article below. Yes, it should be about the poor and sick and most vulnerable.
County CEO Jim Brown and several consultants from government and industry lectured the supervisors, who must actually make some crucial decisions on local laws and their enforcement concerning marijuana. Frankly, the melange of law, rule, present and anticipated, state and federal, is a morass of contradictions, and Brown's toneless recitation of the situation of the moment was pure blithering bureaucratese. You could tell he had given up all hope of anyone understanding anything.
Yet, into the yawning gap of reason, retiring Supervisor Jerry O'Banion leapt, with the comment that he, like all those on the dais, had taken on oath to uphold and support the US Constitution, and that, as far as he knew, marijuana cultivation was still against federal law.
This elicited a conversation on enforcement of the contradictory laws -- state and federal, as well as the local ordinance required by the state law -- during which CEO Brown explained that yes, the county would have a duty to enforce.
This seemed to shock, Board Chairman Daron McDaniel, the rightwing ideologue who is Atwater's latest contribution to political nonsense. A moment after he had uttered something about the county's "right," he seemed entirely nonplused, as if he had never considered the point before, that rights imply duties.
Yes, Mr. Chairman, the whining for more rights. if successful, leads to more responsibility. Sorry. Government is not just a box of chocolates for the plucking.
A comic coda was provided when two corporate PR representatives of a group calling itself the Sisters of the Valley, who produce a line of medicinal pot remedies, lectured the board on its responsibilities to listen to the people and open up the county to marijuana cultivation. They exuded a cloying sense of moral superiority and nearly religious tone when referring to their clients, "the sisters." These "sisters," are in fact, a back-to-the-land coven, not a nunnery.
A bit tasteless, one might think, in a county nearly half Catholic. All their taste is in their munchies.
Oh well, at least we didn't have to think about global warming or the extinction of Honey bees, chronic unemployment, ICE sweeps of undocumented farmworkers, or the rise of white supremacists in the region. Or water.
Merced County plan to ban outdoor weed growth hurts the poor and sick, advocates say
By Thaddeus Miller
Merced County is making moves to reverse its stance on growing marijuana outdoors, which advocates say will affect the poorest and sickest medical cannabis users.
The Merced County Board of Supervisors gave its staff direction on Tuesday to begin to repeal its 2013 ordinance that allows patients to grow 12 plants outside. At the same time, the supervisors asked staff to come up with a plan to allow deliveries, which were previously banned.
Instead the county would rely on the provision in Proposition 64, which allows anyone to grow six plants indoors. But, growing indoors is more costly because it requires the right equipment, according to Susan Bouscaren, president of Jack’s Greenhouse Association, a delivery service co-op that serves the Merced area.
“You’re looking at poor people growing their own medicine,” she said. “They’re not going to have the facility, they’re not going to have the money to grow these things indoors.”
Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke has been an outspoken proponent of banning outdoor growing, saying it invites violence and mayhem.
The 2013 county ordinance allowed medical marijuana cultivation to 12 plants per parcel of land, regardless of the property’s size or the maturity of the plants. Prop, 64 passed by voters last year legalized recreational marijuana and earlier this summer Gov. Jerry Brown and other lawmakers agreed on a plan to blend recreational and medical marijuana laws.
State agencies also are working to build regulations for licensing marijuana businesses in 2018. Until then, marijuana cultivation is regulated at the local level.
The new ordinance may be just the beginning, according to county CEO Jim Brown, who said the county should start conservatively because “it’s easier to expand than to contract.”
In the meantime, that leaves the most vulnerable out in the cold, according to Jesse Ornelas, a Merced resident who ran for public office last year. The underprivileged may not be able to grow inside.
“I know we want to start tight, but it affects the most vulnerable in the county,” he said.
Not everyone supports outdoor growing. The Merced County Farm Bureau has taken a hard line against it, according to Breanne Ramos, executive director of the Merced County Farm Bureau. The group is concerned about water use.
“We would like to see where the feds go prior to to implementing anything,” she said.
Marijuana remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government.