Humboldt Supes Endorse Prop 19 – October 26, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Daniel Mintz

Eye Correspondent

HUMBOLDT – Despite recommendations from two of its members to be silent about the Proposition 19 marijuana legalization measure, the Board of Supervisors has voted to take a position in support of it.

A majority of supervisors advocated for passage of Prop 19 at the Board’s Oct. 19 meeting, with Supervisor Bonnie Neely leading the charge.

Neely changed the direction of an agenda item sponsored by Supervisor Mark Lovelace which recommended not taking a stance on the controversial ballot measure.

Lovelace is a member of a California State Association of Counties’ marijuana policy task force and is also on a supervisors subcommittee that’s drafting a new county medical marijuana ordinance.

He said Proposition 19 is problematic because it doesn’t spell out how legalized marijuana will be regulated. “The reason to legalize it is because having it be illegal has been a deterrent to effective regulation – it’s prevented the ability to regulate the most significant impacts,” Lovelace continued.

He told his colleagues that despite doing extensive research on the measure, “I’ve ultimately felt like there’s just not enough there for me to be able to recommend a position of either support or opposition.”

But Lovelace would later join the majority vote supporting Prop 19. Neely was the first of three supervisors to vouch for it. So did those who spoke during a public comment period.

The initiative’s most obvious result would be make it legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow it in a 25-square-foot area. It leaves regulation up to local governments but also allows for action by the state legislature.

Responding to Lovelace’s concerns about leaving regulation to local governments, Timothy Crlenjack said he thinks supervisors are up for the job.

“I believe you have a tough job and you should be paid for that tough job – and one of the tough jobs is dealing with the passage of this proposition,” he told supervisors.

Syreeta Lux of the Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel (HuMMAP) acknowledged qualms about Prop 19 but urged “support with reservations.”

She said that’s the stance of her group and it’s largely based on economic considerations. “Humboldt County is a wholesale marijuana center and under Prop 215 we’re not having enough room to maneuver and compete with what’s going on in the urban markets,” Lux continued.

Neely described “a little bit of a different take on this item” and made a motion to support Prop 19. She said it’s unrealistic to expect the initiative to set forth a specific regulatory scheme and praised its approach.

“I would say that allowing local jurisdictions to exercise local control is a very positive thing,” said Neely.

Her motion was seconded by Supervisor Jill Duffy and approved with a 4–0 vote. Supervisor Jimmy Smith, the second member of the Board’s medical marijuana policy subcommittee, had agreed with Lovelace. Forced to vote one way or the other, Smith stuck to the spirit of the “take no position” recommendation and abstained.

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