Citizen initiatives are one of my favorite things about democracy. Politicians are supposed to represent the will of the voters that elected them, but I think anyone with a brain knows that politicians rarely follow through on what they are supposed to be doing. That’s why citizen initiatives are so important. They are the one true way that voters can impose their will on the political process.
So it makes me very sad to hear that the City of Vallejo in California is trying to prevent its city’s citizens from even pursuing ballot initiatives that would challenge the city’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries. Per the Times Herald:
The City of Vallejo has filed lawsuits against two proposed MMD ballot initiatives, asking the court to declare both initiatives invalid.
In an email to the Times-Herald on Monday, Donna Mooney, Chief Assistant City Attorney, stated that the city will also ask the court to order that a ballot title and summary for each initiative is not required.
In documents submitted to the Superior Court in March, the city contends the (first proposed) initiative is “facially invalid on both constitutional and statutory grounds, and if garnered sufficient signatures and the voters approved it, would prevent its enforcement.”
According to the proposed initiative, MMDs which have paid the Measure C tax, are located at least 600 feet from the nearest school and are in compliance with the state law would be allowed to continue operation. The ballot measure would force any marijuana business operating in Vallejo prior to March 10 that seeks to relocate, and any new marijuana business that wishes to open, be subject to land use ordinances, rules and regulations the city council may adopt.
In 2011, around 76 percent of city voters approved Measure C, which imposes a business license tax rate of 10 percent on the sale of medical marijuana products within the city.
The council in January voted to shut down all MMDs operating within the city — even if they were paying the Measure C tax — and to stop collecting the tax altogether.
So the citizens of Vallejo voted for a measure that allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to exist, and it passed by over 3/4 of the votes. The Vallejo City Council then overrode the will of the voters by declaring all medical marijuana dispensaries illegal. Now the citizens of Vallejo want to challenge the City Council’s decision, and re-establish what they have essentially already approved, and the City Council is suing to try to prevent such an effort from even getting off the ground. This is America right? Don’t we have a democracy? How is this situation legal? I hope reverse lawsuits are filed against Vallejo, and I’m hopeful that justice will prevail.