Zip the Ziptie Program or Else, Feds Tell Mendocino
UPDATE 12/5/2012: Mendocino Board of Supervisors seeks outside Counsel to deal with Federal subpoena of Ziptie Program records.
A flurry of rumors scuttled across Mendocino and spread throughout California this last week. First the Press Democrat announced the pioneering Mendocino ziptie program suspended. Then the Ukiah Daily Journal and the Times Standard declared it hadn’t been suspended. Today, Michael Montgomery of the California Watch explained that according to drug enforcement officials,
Last week, federal prosecutors stepped up the pressure… by informing Mendocino officials that the program was in violation of federal drug laws and that the county faced litigation and other enforcement actions if it continued…
Today, Mendocino’s County Counsel issued a press release addressing what was happening with the ziptie program. It stated that “[i]n response to the threat of litigation made by representatives of the U. S. Attorney’s Office and and ongoing concerns regarding the effect of the recent court ruling in the case of Pack v. SuperiorCourt of Los Angeles” the Mendocino Board of Supervisors have decided to review the program on January 24th. There, county counsel, Jeanine Nadel, will present possible amendments to the program that will “conform to the Pack decision and the concerns expressed by the U.S Attorney’s Office.”
As of now, the program is suspended and will not take any further permit applications until an amended ordinance is passed. This could take place as soon as March 15th— in time for the outdoor growing season.
Chair John McCowen who was an author of the current version of Chapter 9.31 said in a strongly worded response,
The 9.31 permit program [ziptie] created an above ground regulatory framework that balanced safe access to medical marijuana with public safety and environmental protection. The Pack decision and the Federal crackdown will have the effect of driving medical marijuana back underground making it more illegal, profitable and dangerous….If the Federal government is not going to provide the resources to eradicate all the marijuana that they consider illegal, then they should not interfere with local regulatory efforts to protect public safety and the environment.”
UPDATE, 7:20 p.m.: Just as this posted, John McCowen sent out a further statement:
The 9.31 ordinance, including the permit program to grow up to 99 plants subject to an inspection by the Sheriff’s Office and compliance with numerous conditions designed to protect public safety and the environment, has been a landmark program and a model of an ground regulatory framework for medical marijuana.
The effect of the Pack decision and the Federal crackdown will be to drive the production of marijuana back underground making it more illegal, more dangerous and more profitable for the black marketeers. In the face of overwhelming evidence that the Federal war on drugs squanders public money, endangers our communities, corrupts the criminal justice system, and enriches outlaw drug trafficking organizations, the federal government continues to pursue these failed policies.