Two weeks ago, we reported on the battle over Measure B in California's Mendocino County. At that time, 10 days after voters there went to the polls to weigh in on the bid to undo the county's groundbreaking Measure G, which allowed anyone to grow up to 25 marijuana plants, Measure B was leading by a margin of 52% to 48%, but more than a third of the votes had not been counted.
Well, now they have, and the results are the same: Measure B was approved by voters by a margin of 52% to 48%. Now, if the measure is found to be constitutional -- which is in doubt because of a recent California appellate court ruling -- only medical marijuana patients and caregivers can grow, and they can only grow six plants per patient.
Still, opponents of Measure B claimed a "moral victory," as Dale Gieringer of California NORML put it in a press release. "The final margin was so close that opponents would have won in a general election, where turnout is larger, younger, and more liberally inclined. Marijuana proponents intend to return to the county with more workable proposals for legally regulating the county's marijuana industry," Gieringer wrote.
Spurred in part by cultural opposition to marijuana, in part by worries over crime and quality of life issues associated with the county's $500 million a year (lowball figure) pot crop, and in part by complaints that local employers could not find workers because they were making more money in the pot trade, the initiative was expected to win convincingly. The measure was placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors, with support from the city councils of Willits and Ukiah, the district attorney, the county's leading newspaper and major media, and local development interests upset by the difficulty of paying competitive wages.
"Everything was stacked against us from the beginning," said No on B campaign director Laura Hamburg. But the No on B campaign managed to raise serious doubts about whether Measure B would have any impact on the large commercial grows that stoked much of the concern, turning the election into a horse race.
Look for a quick legal challenge to Measure B from the Mendocino activist community, which has already vowed to go back to voters with new measures aimed at taxing and regulating marijuana production and sales there.