The Napa City Council may have nixed its medical marijuana dispensary ordinance, but that does not mean it’s dead.
On Tuesday, a grassroots group calling itself Napa’s Compassion Referendum Committee announced it would seek to overturn the council’s early December decision to effectively ban dispensaries in city limits.
Were their proposed referendum to make it to the November 2014 ballot and win favor with voters, the city’s ordinance that would have allowed one heavily regulated dispensary to open in Napa would have new life.
“Napa’s Compassion Referendum Committee is composed of concerned citizens that believe patients in Napa should have access to their medicine,” said group spokesman Spencer Smith.
The group formed this month after the City Council voted 3-2 on Dec. 3 to repeal the ordinance to allow a dispensary inside the city limits. The ordinance had been unanimously adopted in 2010 by an earlier council, but never implemented because of legal concerns.
On Tuesday, the council finalized the decision, again voting 3-2, with Councilmembers Peter Mott and Scott Sedgley voting in dissent.
“We believe patients in pain should have safe access to their medicine,” Smith said in a news release. “We believe most Napa voters agree with us. This referendum will allow the voters to decide.”
The group said the city’s ordinance was “a very strong regulatory ordinance that would’ve kept the dispensary away from schools, neighborhoods and limited the outside advertising.”
Ultimately, the majority of the council balked at implementation over concerns it would be challenged in court, and make it easier for local teens to gain illegal access to the drug.
If the referendum is successful, the tabled ordinance would be revived, opening the door for a local dispensary.
While the group is confident it can gain favor with voters based on Napa’s support of the 1996 statewide proposition that legalized medicinal marijuana in California, the clock is ticking for volunteers to act.
Citizens have 30 days from the date of a council’s act to gather signatures from 10 percent of voters to place a referendum on a ballot, said City Clerk Dorothy Roberts.
Napa has just over 37,500 voters, according to the registrar of voters and the council’s decision was finalized this week, so, the group has until mid-January to collect roughly 3,750 signatures.
Smith said the group plans to immediately head out to shopping centers and other public areas and begin signature gathering. They are seeking volunteers to assist in the grassroots effort.
Anyone interested in assisting with signature gathering should call 707-418-8024.