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Referendum Suspends Santa Cruz County Ban on Medical Cannabis Cultivation
by via Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz
Monday May 18th, 2015 3:18 PM
Santa Cruz, California – May 16, 2015 – The first successful Santa Cruz County referendum in 13 years has suspended an ordinance adopted by the County Board of Supervisors to ban all commercial cannabis cultivation. The ban was adopted on April 14, 2015, and was to go into effect on May 15, 2015.
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Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC) circulated the referendum and after only 21 days filed 11,210 signatures with the county. 7,248 valid signatures are required to qualify the referendum for the ballot.

The ordinance was suspended when the Santa Cruz County Clerk Elections Department confirmed on May 11, 2015, that the referendum petitions contained more than the minimum number of signatures. The county has 30 calendar days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, from the date the petition was filed, May 7, 2015, to verify the validity of the signatures. As provided in the California Elections Code, 500 randomly selected petition signatures will be verified initially. For this referendum, 71.1% of the randomly selected signatures must be valid to qualify the referendum for the ballot based on the random sample count alone.

As of 4 pm on Friday, May 15, the Clerk's office has processed 266 signatures and found 73.6% of them to be valid. Based on this trend, the referendum will most likely qualify for the ballot when the remaining 234 randomly selected signatures have been checked. If the validity rate at that point is below 71.1%, all of the signatures must be verified. To reach the minimum 7,248 required, an overall validity rate above 64.7% must be maintained in a full count.

Until the signature verification process is completed, the referendum is deemed to have qualified for the ballot and the county cultivation ban will remain suspended. If verification confirms that the referendum has qualified, the ban ordinance will remain suspended until county voters vote at the June 2016 primary election whether to approve or reject it.

Supervisors Zach Friend, Greg Caput and Bruce McPherson voted for the ordinance banning all commercial medical cannabis cultivation. Supervisors John Leopold and Ryan Coonerty voted against the ban.

The ordinance would have allowed a patient/caregiver to cultivate only on a space 10 feet by 10 feet, which must be on the property where the patient/caregiver resides. The ordinance also would have allowed only a single collective to operate in the entire county.

Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC) is a network of citizens dedicated to protecting medical cannabis patients' rights, to preserving the environment, and to guarding the health and safety of the Santa Cruz community. RCSC was formed to give county voters a direct say in whether a commercial cultivation ban is appropriate and to propose to community leaders and voters a sensible alternative solution.

RCSC board member, D’Angelo "Cricket" Roberto (co-founder of Naturally Mystic Organics), cites the analysis of CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta: "To make many of the the most effective cannabis-based medicines, large quantities of cannabis plants are required. For example, plant strains rich with CBD (cannabidiol – one of at least 85 active cannabinoids found in cannabis) have low yields. To obtain sufficient cannibidiol for concentrated medical uses, such as balms, tinctures and ingestible oils, requires significantly more space than a 10 by 10 foot plot. This makes collective cultivation necessary, on larger plots, something the Supervisors' ordinance would not allow."

Mr. Roberto also states: “The RCSC board believes that most cannabis cultivators in Santa Cruz County love and respect the environment. We share the concerns of the County Board of Supervisors that prompted this ban, such as environmental degradation and community safety. RCSC is busy creating a coalition that has held several meetings to develop sensible rules and regulations that reflect the values of our unique county. Our network is informed and diverse, and our meetings are ongoing. The outcome will be an initiative ballot measure that lets Santa Cruz County voters decide.”

With full California cannabis legalization likely to be on the state ballot next year, the coalition that RCSC is collaborating with includes not only local medical cannabis proponent groups, but also statewide activists. RCSC hopes to achieve new county regulations that will complement any changes in state law to secure the rights of Santa Cruz County patients and collectives well beyond 2016.

Eric Hammer, RCSC board member, says: "Santa Cruz County has a rich history of leading innovation in research and development of cannabis technologies and medicinal products. Continuing on this path, while preserving the environment, public safety and patients' rights, is how we make a healthier and safer community. We’re excited to work with our community to develop a well-rounded initiative for the people to vote on in 2016.” He also remains hopeful that the County Board of Supervisors might adopt RCSC's planned initiative as it's own ordinance.

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Contact:

Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz
info [at] RCSantaCruz.org
http://www.RCSantaCruz.org
tel. 831-428-5032

Paid for by: Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz, FPPC ID# 1376658, 101 Cooper Street, #258 Santa Cruz, CA 95060

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