On October 25 2011, Butte County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to ban dispensaries in all unincorporated areas of the county. Residents of the beautiful Chico, nestled in the Northern Sacramento valley of California, say the new ordinance outlaws medical marijuana dispensaries and safe access. Dispensary operator, Andrew Merkel responded by saying, “we’re not going to put up with the way they’re handling this.”
To this end a signature collecting referendum is underway, with advocates gathering signatures as of last Sunday. If enough signatures are collected they will go before the Board of Supervisors to inform their decision on whether the ordinance should be repealed or put on the June ballot. According to Merkel, thousands of signatures have already been gathered – 7,605 are required by November 23 2011.
Merkel is the vice president of the last dispensary in Butte County to stop dispensing marijuana; he’s had to lay off all employees. He is also president of Citizens for Compassionate Use Butte County. He’s got a fight on his hands though. Butte County counsel, Bruce Alpert said that as the zoning code doesn’t allow dispensaries, the use of medical marijuana is prohibited; he went on to say, “We’re still not going to allow dispensaries to operate with or without the ordinance. It’s against federal law.”
Because growing medical marijuana in the county is outlawed on plots of land less than half-an-acre, without dispensaries most patients cannot get the medicine recommended for their medical condition by the physician.
Tables where you can sign the petition are stationed at Chico State University and near businesses throughout the county