Marijuana ordinance raises “yeas and nays” from localsBy: Carol Percy, Reporter
THE CITY OF COLFAX
Shall the City of Colfax adopt an ordinance which allows and regulates marijuana dispensaries, cultivation, delivery and use, and imposes a sales tax of up to fifteen percent (15%) on the sale of marijuana and marijuana products, which shall be in addition to established municipal and state taxes on such sales, and dedicates all revenues derived from such tax to reduce City business and residential sewer service charges.
When citizens go to the polls to vote during the fast-approaching Nov. 8, 2016 Presidential General Election, marijuana measures will appear on both state and local ballots.
Currently, marijuana laws fall within the purview of three jurisdictions: federal, state and local.
At the federal level, marijuana is prohibited by law. Under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 Controlled Substance, just like heroin and other dangerous narcotics. As such, federal law treats any use, cultivation or distribution to be a criminal act, which can subject the violator to prosecution and imprisonment, according to a document prepared by Stephen J. Beede, founding attorney with BPE Law Group. The real estate law firm has offices in Fair Oaks and Lincoln.
“While this excerpt explains the current ‘legal’ designation at the federal level, it is important that this be stated in conjunction with current federal ‘policy,’ which provides that the federal law will not be enforced where the state has a sufficient level of marijuana control laws,” Beede said Monday. “Local communities, such as Colfax, certainly can adopt their own ordinances, which can be more stringent than state law but not less.”
On the state level, California Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, will be on the Nov. 8 ballot as an initiated state statute. Supporters refer to the initiative as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
Proposition 64 asks voters to support legalizing recreational marijuana for persons aged 21 years or older under state law and the establishment of sales and cultivation taxes, according to ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_64,_Marijuana_Legalization_(2016).
Locally, Measure H is a Colfax City-initiated ballot measure that was placed on the ballot by the Colfax City Council. Measure H is a vote to adopt the proposed ordinance and allow medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation, delivery, transportation, manufacturing and related businesses to be permitted in Colfax and a special sales tax of up to 15 percent to be imposed on medical marijuana sales and manufacturing. The proceeds of the special sales tax would be used to reduce city business and residential sewer service charges, according to placerelections.com.
A 10-year resident of Colfax, Haines helped co-write the argument in favor of Measure H for the Placer County Elections’ voters' guide.
Measure H would limit the use of taxes raised from medical marijuana sales for reducing the bills that Colfax residents and businesses are paying for sewer plant upgrades made a few years ago, Haines pointed out.
“I have been impressed by the diligence of council and city staff in crafting an ordinance that would meet the needs of Colfax residents and beyond and would also safeguard the residents,” Haines said. “For example, city staff and council had discussions with other states to learn what works and what doesn't. Their research has enabled them to learn by others' mistakes.”
Haines stressed that Measure H only focuses on medical marijuana in Colfax.
“The state's proposition on the November ballot to legalize all marijuana use (also known as “recreational”) in the state is not what the Colfax ordinance is about,” Haines said. “Again, Colfax will be in control of what happens in Colfax.”
Haines recommends that Colfax residents read the Measure H ordinance available at Colfax City Hall and on the city website at colfax-ca.gov.
Below, two Colfax City Councilmen discuss why they favor or oppose the ballot measure.
Colfax council member Tony Hesch opposes Measure H
Hesch has served on the Colfax City Council for four years and was Colfax mayor from 2012 to 2013.
Why Hesch opposes the measure
“I am strongly against Measure H, the medical marijuana issue for Colfax. Here are only a few of the reasons I will vote no.
Special interest groups have been lobbying for this for over nine recent months. During the last nine months, (the Colfax City) Council has wasted all of its time on this single issue. That means we did nothing for you the citizens during those nine months.
In making up your mind, please ask yourself the following questions: What will this cost us the tax payers in increased cost for services and staffing? Ask why the city staff has not released an estimate of cost for the council to review before voting on what will certainly cost us all more tax money.
Ask why the city has not released how much the average rate payer for sewer services will see in their cost reduction as promoted by medical marijuana special interests.
Why didn’t the mandatory set aside of the proceeds go to roads instead of a negligible reduction to our sewer bills? Better yet, why not into a special fund for emergencies at the sewer plant or better yet into a long term fund and a goal to hook up our sewer system to the Lincoln plants, thus getting out of one of more costly services that we provide.
How did confidential attorney client information clearly marked, intended for City Council, fall into the hands of the attorney who was speaking to the council on behalf of the medical marijuana special interests?
Why did the special interests lobby on the council reject the idea of some revenue being used be directed to the community youth to help provide them information with guidance on these issues?
These are only a few of the many issues that I have raised both in writing and verbally at council meetings that continue to go unanswered. I am proud to say I will not support this issue on the November ballot. I voted against it when in front of the council and I will do the same on my November ballot.”
Colfax council member Will Stockwin favors Measure H
Stockwin was appointed to the Colfax City Council in October 2015 when Ken Delfino vacated the position. Previously, Stockwin served for two years in the late ’90s as the city’s Farmers Market manager. Stockwin was also the District 5 representative on the Placer County Civil Service Commission from 1996 to 2003, he said.
Why Stockwin favors the measure
“I support Measure H because it will give us local control over medical marijuana, which already has a presence in the city via outside delivery services. It will also provide some relief for sewer ratepayers because it allows the city to tax dispensaries up to 15 percent and use the revenue to lower local sewer rates that are among the state’s highest.
Measure H also marks the first attempt by City Hall to help citizens pay their sewer bills since saddling us with a wastewater treatment plant that we can’t afford.
Medical marijuana is nothing new in Colfax. We already had a dispensary in town for eight years with absolutely no problems, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.
In the 20 years since state voters approved the Compassionate Use Act, medical marijuana has been shown to have numerous therapeutic applications. Because of that, a thriving medical marijuana economy has developed in California.
Measure H is recognition that medical marijuana is an established reality in the state, in the county and in Colfax. Our previous marijuana dispensary operated for eight years with no problems and we can do it again, this time helping not just medical marijuana patients but sewer ratepayers as well.
I’ve been walking door-to-door handing out Measure H flyers, talking to local voters in the process and it has occurred to me that the fact that medical cannabis dispensaries are already so tightly regulated makes it difficult to educate people as to what dispensaries are like, simply because they can't just walk into one like any other store and see for themselves.
When I hear concerns about children ‘getting in and buying whatever they want’ and tell the speaker that while children simply aren’t allowed into dispensaries, no adult can get in either without a valid doctor’s recommendation and prescription for medical cannabis products. Thinking about marijuana as something other that a criminal enterprise is clearly a new and unsettling experience for some people.”