We realize you may be tiring of our “priority resident” discussion about Measure B. We’d like to let it go, but Measure B backers keep bringing it up. In fairness, they do so for good reason.
They’re right to be concerned because, like it or not, the unconstitutionality of Measure B’s priority resident provision is a glaring weakness in their plan to create a commercial cannabis monopoly in Plumas County.
That’s why they’re fighting tooth and nail to disprove our busting of their myths regarding priority residents in Measure B. Fortunately, we have a supporter who’s also a legal expert. In response to the attempt to bust our MythBust below, I asked him a question that went like this:
A Measure B backer is trying to bust our MythBust about the unconstitutionality of the “priority residents” provision. Does he or she succeed?
First, here’s their attempt to bust our MythBust:
And here’s our legal expert’s answer:
No. Here’s why: Valid exceptions to the Fourteen Amendment’s equal protection provisions require that there be a compelling government interest, which in the case of Measure B, can only be satisfied by a limited and temporary distinction between residents and non-residents.
In this instance, the Measure B backer claims that the county’s “compelling interest” is in preventing or mitigating problems related to population increases due to Measure B commercial cannabis activities. As he or she also points out, to be constitutional the government’s actions in protecting this “compelling interest” must be “done in the least restrictive way.”
One less restrictive way would have been to issue the licenses to anyone who applied for them (thereby avoiding violating the Constitution entirely) and dole them out slowly in annual increments, such as twenty total licenses per year, until all were taken.
This would result in the vast majority of licenses, at least for the first year or two, going to local property owners, whether residents or not, because of the time lag to buy land here and get set up for licensing, as well as the uncertainty of winning the annual license lottery. But then, that approach wouldn’t have helped the prospective “priority resident” licensees much, would it?
There is a couple of Alice in Wonderland aspects to this whole discussion. First off, the Measure B backer talks about the distinctions made in Measure B between county residents and non-county residents and why that distinction might be legal.
Ignored is the elephant-in-the-room Illegality:
The distinction between residents and priority residents not only poses Fourteenth Amendment questions, but also questions under California’s constitution, statutes, and business regulations.
For instance, California has some of the most stringent fair trade and anti-monopoly rules in the nation. With that in mind, it’s hard to believe that the razor-thin rationale the Measure B backer offer for protecting, nurturing, and providing monopoly protection to their “priority resident” privileged class would hold up in court.
There’s also the troubling time element. Whenever legality and lawsuit issues are brought up, Measure B folks like to talk about their proposed ordinance’s sunset provisions. The fatal flaw of that is this: There is no effective sunset for priority residents because of the way Measure licenses would be renewed. The original holders (or their heirs) would almost certainly still be in control and in possession of their licenses thirty years from now.
Final Note: Contrary to popular belief, Measure B does NOT require that even a single initial license be issued to a non-resident, or for that matter, to anyone—resident or not—who is not a priority resident.
And that—legal scholars, neighbors and fellow residents who want to keep commercial cannabis out of our county—is the ball game.
Vote NO on Measure B. Help us preserve all that we love about Plumas County … including our Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection under the laws.