Susanville City Council approves commercial cannabis ordinance

Despite strong opposition and little support from a roomful of city residents to commercial cannabis activities and dispensaries within the city limits and numerous pleas from members of the public to put the issue on the ballot to let the city’s residents make the call, the Susanville City Council approved a proposed city ordinance that allows those activities at its Wednesday, May 4 meeting.

Mendy Schuster, Susanville’s mayor, said she received calls from many residents expressing concerns the ordinance allows cannabis activities to be conducted too near day care centers, schools, public facilities such as the historic Railroad Depot on Richmond Road and churches. Schuster proposed revising the ordinance to address those concerns before its final approval, but a motion to that effect failed by a 3-2 vote. Another motion to put the issue on the ballot for the voters to decide also failed by a 3-2 vote.

The approved ordinance, which takes effect June 4, will permit indoor commercial grows and up to three dispensaries within the city limits.

But hold on — maybe it’s not a done deal yet
The ordinance’s supporters may have approved the controversial ordinance, but if the public’s opposition is strong enough, they have a way to stall the effective date of the ordinance, bring it back to the council for further consideration, and if the council upholds its decision again, get the question on the ballot for the people to ultimately decide. Some city residents say they plan to do just that — seek a referendum on the council’s approval of this ordinance.

According to the state election code, “If a petition protesting the adoption of an ordinance … is submitted to the elections official of the legislative body of the city … within 30 days of the date the adopted ordinance is attested by the city clerk or secretary to the legislative body, and is signed by not less than 10 percent of the voters of the city according to the county elections official’s last official report of registration to the Secretary of State … the effective date of the ordinance shall be suspended and the legislative body shall reconsider the ordinance.

“If the legislative body does not entirely repeal the ordinance against which the petition is filed, the legislative body shall submit the ordinance to the voters, either at the next regular municipal election occurring not less than 88 days after the order of the legislative body, or at a special election called for the purpose, not less than 88 days after the order of the legislative body. The ordinance shall not become effective until a majority of the voters voting on the ordinance vote in favor of it. If the legislative body repeals the ordinance or submits the ordinance to the voters, and a majority of the voters voting on the ordinance do not vote in favor of it, the ordinance shall not again be enacted by the legislative body for a period of one year after the date of its repeal by the legislative body or disapproval by the voters.”