Referendum backers submit signatures; South Lake Tahoe marijuana regulations delayed (updated) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Referendum backers submit signatures; South Lake Tahoe marijuana regulations delayed (updated)

FILE - In this Sunday, April 23, 2017 file photo large jars of marijuana are on display for sale at the Cali Gold Genetics booth during the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino, Calif. Consumers eager for the coming of California's legal recreational marijuana market should be ready for sticker shock. An array of new taxes and fees will be attached to pot sales, driving up prices.

Supporters of a referendum on South Lake Tahoe's cannabis ordinance submitted enough signatures Wednesday to temporarily prevent the regulations from taking effect.

The development marks the latest turn in the ongoing cannabis saga in the city. Proponents of the referendum say their effort is intended to fix regulations they deem unfair and favoring large cannabis companies, while opponents say the referendum effort is a deceptive ploy intended to benefit the city's lone medical cannabis dispensary: Tahoe Wellness Cooperative.

Signature gatherers hit the streets over the course of two weeks in order to meet the statutory deadline for submitting signatures for a referendum petition.

A receipt from the South Lake Tahoe City Clerk's Office shows that 1,687 signatures were submitted. Under state election laws and according to the most recent registered voter roll, backers needed approximately 1,019 valid signatures.

The El Dorado County elections department has 30 days to determine through random sampling if enough valid signatures were gathered. During that time the city's cannabis ordinance — which would allow for a limited number of cannabis businesses — will not be implemented. The ordinance was passed in August and was set to take effect Thursday.

If enough of those total signatures are deemed valid, City Council will have to decide whether it wants to put the matter before voters or repeal the ordinance.

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Should it choose the latter, council would be unable to enact that same ordinance again for a year; although it would be able to adopt a new ordinance addressing cannabis regulations at any time.

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Wendy David told the Tribune she would refrain from commenting until the signature verification process was complete.

The effort was spearheaded by James Anthony, an attorney who specializes in cannabis issues and represents Cody Bass, executive director of Tahoe Wellness. He and Bass have argued that the city's ordinance is deeply flawed and designed, whether intentionally or not, to benefit large cannabis companies.

The referendum effort sparked a backlash from some local residents, including a handful who hope to establish cannabis businesses in the city.

One of those residents, Oliver Starr, was left with plenty of questions when contacted by the Tribune Wednesday. Starr asked, among other questions, if hopeful businesses could still submit applications to the city while the signature verification process takes place.

The short answer, according to interim South Lake Tahoe City Manager Dirk Brazil, is "yes" but city staff can't and won't process the applications until the signature validation process is complete.

The county election department has until Nov. 1 to verify signatures.

As for the chances of the referendum's success, that depends on who you ask.

"I have doubts that the signatures are good," Starr said while pointing to issues raised about misleading information shared by some signature gatherers.

Anthony, on the other hand, told the Tribune he is cautiously optimistic that the effort has enough valid signatures.

"Referendum campaigns are hard and we very much appreciate the support of the voters of South Lake Tahoe," he said.

ORIGINAL POST

Supporters of a referendum on South Lake Tahoe's cannabis ordinance submitted enough signatures today to temporarily prevent the regulations from taking effect.

A receipt from the South Lake Tahoe City Clerk's Office shows that 1,687 signatures were submitted. Under state election laws and according to the most recent registered voter roll, backers needed approximately 1,019 valid signatures.

The El Dorado County elections department has 30 days to determine through random sampling if enough signatures were gathered. During that time the city's cannabis ordinance — which would allow for a limited number of cannabis businesses — will be delayed. The ordinance was passed in August and set to take effect tomorrow.

If enough of those total signatures are deemed valid, City Council will have to decide whether it wants to put the matter before voters or repeal the ordinance.

Should it choose the latter, council would be unable to enact that same ordinance again for a year; although it would be able to adopt a new ordinance addressing cannabis regulations at any time.

South Lake Tahoe Mayor Wendy David told the Tribune she would refrain from commenting until the signature verification process was complete.

Proponents of the referendum say their effort is intended to fix regulations they deem unfair, while opponents say the effort is a veiled attempt to benefit the city’s lone medical cannabis dispensary: Tahoe Wellness Cooperative.

The effort was spearheaded by James Anthony, an attorney who specializes in cannabis issues and represents Cody Bass, executive director of Tahoe Wellness.

Anthony told the Tribune he was cautiously optimistic that the effort had enough valid signatures.

“Referendum campaigns are hard and we very much appreciate the support of the voters of South Lake Tahoe,” he said.

The county election department has until Nov. 1 to verify signatures.

This is a developing story that will be updated.