SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California went against the green on Election Day as voters in San Diego County and Palo Alto nixed the idea of allowing medical marijuana dispensaries, and Arcata residents adopted a stiff new tax on electricity to push large-scale indoor pot growers out of town.
On the same day that voters in Colorado and Washington approved initiatives legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and Massachusetts became the 18th state to allow its use, the state that started it all took a dimmer view of the drug.
Voters rejected initiatives that would have paved the way for medical marijuana dispensaries to open and be taxed in the cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Lemon Grove and Imperial Beach. Existing laws in all four cities ban medical marijuana clinics.
In Palo Alto, 62 percent of voters in Tuesday's election rejected Measure C, which would have allowed three pot shops to open and imposed a 4 percent tax on their sales.
The measure would have reversed a 1997 ban on medical marijuana shops. City leaders opposed it despite the promise of additional revenue.
More surprising, perhaps, was the passage in Arcata of Measure I, which will require households using three times the normal amount of electricity to pay a 45 percent tax on their energy consumption.
The measure was aimed at growers who set up indoor marijuana gardens in residential neighborhoods.
Mayor Michael Winkler said the vote shows even though people in Arcata are pretty liberal about marijuana, they want the large indoor growing operations out of their neighborhoods.
If growers don't leave, Winkler says he will ask voters to raise the tax even more.
He also hopes to persuade neighboring communities to take similar steps.
Medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, when the state became the first to allow patients with doctor's recommendations to possess the drug. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.