Chico: Say no to a ban

The City Council must act wisely—not hastily—in regard to medical marijuana

While cities throughout California scramble to react to a deadline in a new state law, Chico will be better served if it sits back and takes a more thoughtful approach. The law is part of a package of three bills, collectively known as the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), that went into effect Jan. 1 and creates a framework for licensing and taxing the drug for commercial sale. Unfortunately, the bills came with a deadline of March 1 for local governments to enact laws relating to cannabis cultivation in order to maintain local control. This has cities and towns—including every other municipality in Butte County—acting brashly and outright banning growing, selling and delivering medical marijuana.

What many of these cities’ attorneys have told their councils seems to be disingenuous. Many have recommended a ban on growing despite those municipalities already having laws in place regulating the practice, and they’re citing recommendations from the League of California Cities. Thing is, just as Chico City Councilman Randall Stone, who’s a member of that organization, told us, those recommendations say that an outright ban is prudent only if a municipality has no existing law on the books.

Making all this even more contentious is the fact that Assembly Bill 21, which calls for a repeal of the March 1 deadline, already has passed the Senate and has widespread support in the Assembly and by Gov. Jerry Brown.

With the Chico City Council poised to take action regarding medical marijuana in relation to MMRSA on Tuesday (Feb. 2), we urge discussion and thorough consideration of the future of medical marijuana in our city. Chico already has a functional law on the books. All the council needs to do is stand behind it.