Last week, I presented oral argument to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in support of the people’s right of referendum. Long story short, the Kern County Board of Supervisors banned medical marijuana dispensaries in 2011, the people protested via referendum petition, and to this day the County has refused to comply with the legal mandate to submit the ban to voters before giving it effect. The County contends that they may reenact a protested ordinance after the passage of time; however, neither the California Constitution nor the Elections Code allow for such limitation on the people’s right to referendum.
The Court of Appeal granted our motion for calendar preference in light of the upcoming March election, at which the people and the Board of Supervisors have submitted competing ballot measures on medical marijuana for consideration by the voters.
Measure D is a people’s initiative measure, meaning it originated with the people, and will be submitted to a vote of the people. If and when the people adopt this measure (it would need to get more votes than Measure E), the Kern County Board of Supervisors will not have the ability to amend or repeal it. In other words, the Kern County electorate would gain control over the issue.
Enter Measure E. The County Board has demonstrated over the past decade that it is unwilling to relinquish control over the issue of medical marijuana, and has persistently interferes with the will of the voters. Upon the qualification of Measure D for the ballot, the County Board cooked up Measure E, which would give the Board full control over the issue. If the voters approve Measure E, the Board could amend or repeal it at any time in the future.
The Board’s agenda, as shown through its actions over the past decade, is to continue to ban medical cannabis in Kern County. The Board’s proposal of Measure E is yet another maneuver to silence the voices of the electorate and maintain control over the issue.
The initiative and referendum are powerful direct democratic tools reserved to Californians to use when their institutions are unresponsive. Measure D is the people’s way of taking control on this issue and giving power their voices. We believe the voters in Kern County are smart enough to see through the County’s intentions with Measure E, and expect it to be rejected in March.