Marijuana mix-up

When it comes to medpot, the city is totally spaced

The medical-marijuana business is growing, you might say. The U.S. Justice Department’s announcement this week that henceforth it will not prosecute medpot growers and sellers who are in compliance with state laws has opened more doors to legal sales.

Medpot dispensaries are popping up like mushrooms after a rain. There are hundreds in the Bay Area; ditto Los Angeles. Locally, there are several growing collectives and storefront dispensaries in such places as Red Bluff and Corning. Yes, Corning.

Here in Chico, the City Council is struggling to come to grips with the consequences of pot’s semi-legalization. At their Oct. 6 meeting, council members worked themselves into a knot trying to come up with a way to regulate backyard grows that neighbors said stank up the place so badly that, in some cases, they became ill. In the end, the council gave up in frustration—the hour was late—and sent the matter for unraveling to its Internal Affairs Committee.

The council needs to get with the program. The CN&R has heard from credible sources of plans to open a dispensary in Chico in the coming weeks. Others will follow. But so far the city has done nothing to prepare for this, and individual council members—judging by their comments on Oct. 6—seem largely ignorant about marijuana and the legal issues it raises.

Time to celebrate: There was a party going on in Dry Creek Canyon Saturday afternoon. About 20 folks who live in the pretty little valley were gathered at the home of Rich and Darlyne Meyers, hoisting champagne flutes in celebration of their recent court victory over Butte County and the New Era Mine. The 12-acre gold mine is at the north end of the two-mile-long canyon, which is off Messilla Valley Road east of Butte College.

Barbara Vlamis was there, too. Early on she brought the Butte Environmental Council, which she led at the time, into the effort, offering professional support to the group of fired-up ad-hoc activists who became known as the Dry Creek Coalition.

These people had a lot of moxie. First off, the effort was expensive, forcing each of them to pony up major cash. (Fortunately, an anonymous benefactor gave a large donation to the cause.) Then they were hit with a bogus $1 million countersuit; instead of freaking, they hired the best anti-SLAPP lawyer in the state and got the suit thrown out of court. They also had to take on the county, which approved the mine’s continued operation in what we now know was defiance of state environmental and mining laws.

The members of the coalition gave full credit to Keith Wagner, their attorney, but the guy receiving the lion’s share of praise Saturday was Rich Meyers, the retired school custodian who led the 18-month effort. “The General,” they called him.

They were justifiably proud of their effort, believing it set a precedent in environmental and mining law and has led county staff to take their jobs as mining watchdogs more seriously.

Harriet Spiegel, who teaches English at Chico State, expressed it this way: “I’m just so proud of my little canyon!”