Mendocino Supervisors Insert Clarifying Language into Zip Tie Ordinance

Today, the Mendocino Board of Supervisors has inserted an amendment into the 9.31 Ordinance (the medical marijuana Zip Tie program.)  The new language, according to an email sent out several days ago by Supervisor John McCowen, “is intended to clarify that it has always been the legislative intent of the Board” that information gathered or created because of the Ordinance was intended from the beginning to be regarded as confidential medical information.  (See below for the exact language inserted into the ordinance.)

Last January, the U.S. Attorney’s office warned that the groundbreaking program which allowed participants to pay a fee and undergo a permitting process to grow marijuana violated federal law. Then, last fall, a federal grand jury subpoenaed “any and all” the records relating to the program.  In mid December, the county of Mendocino filed a motion to quash the request.  Americans for Safe Access (ASA) and the Emerald Growers Association supported this motion with a joint amicus ‘friend of the court’ brief. 

According to ASA,

“Despite telling Americans that medical marijuana patients are not being targeted, the Obama Administration’s contempt for them and its intent to undermine California’s medical marijuana law has been laid bare with this subpoena,” said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who co-authored the amicus brief filed today. “Mendocino County is completely justified in its refusal to cooperate with the grand jury subpoena and we’re proud to support the county officials in that effort.” The amicus brief called the subpoena “needlessly broad” and argued it would have “serious and longstanding repercussions” by “reveal[ing] privileged and confidential medical information…[and] undermin[ing] the County’s considered and thoughtful attempts to regulate medical marijuana pursuant to state law.”

The Zip Tie program has been the subject of multiple instances of federal scrutiny and intervention. In particular, the first farmer to register, Joy Greenfield, was arrested and her medical marijuana destroyed in 2010. Then, in 2011, 99 plants belonging to Northstone Organics and Matt Cohen were raided by the DEA. 

A hearing regarding the motion to quash the federal subpoena was postponed and is scheduled for January 29th.


Language inserted into the 9.31 Ordinance

Sec. 9.31.015

Confidential Nature of Medical Marijuana Information
Legislative Intent.

Pursuant to the California Compassionate Use Act of 1996, enacted by the voters of the State of California on November 5, 1996 and implementation statutes such as California Health & Safety Code section 11362.71, the County of Mendocino Board of Supervisors hereby finds and declares that all medical marijuana use information received by and/or generated by the operation of Chapter 9.31 has always been intended to be treated and held by the County of Mendocino as confidential medical information to the fullest extent authorized by California and Federal law from 2008 to the present as well as prospectively. This is a declaration of past, current and prospective legislative intent for all versions of Chapter 9.31 dating back to 2008.

UPDATE 8:04 P.M.: John McCowan Supervisor sent out an email saying “The amendment that I sent out earlier was further amended to clarify that all information submitted was confidential, not just medical information.”


Hat tip to Tiffany Revelle of the Ukiah Daily Journal, who tweeted this morning about the Supervisors’ meeting.


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