Let me begin by saying I understand that Marijuana brings some measure of relief, great or small, to individuals who suffer from a variety of medical conditions. I also recognize that recreational Marijuana is legal in California and no effort should be taken to deliberately nullify that which the voters in California approved.
Equally important however, is the fact that local jurisdictions have the right to set restrictions they feel best serve the citizens and communities interests. By law these local regulations may be more restrictive than the state’s regulations, but cannot be more permissive.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you may have heard that the Plumas County Board of Supervisors placed a moratorium on commercial Marijuana activity late last year. By ordinance residents are allowed to grow six Marijuana plants per residence. Absent a code enforcement officer, the Board of Supervisors placed the enforcement of this ordinance with my office.
The actions of the Board of Supervisors have been criticized by the Marijuana growing community and applauded by those who oppose commercial Marijuana activity in Plumas County.
Understanding why the Board of Supervisors took this action may shed some light on the future of commercial Marijuana activity in Plumas County. While I would never speak for the board, I believe I have some insight that may be of some benefit to both sides of this divisive issue.
It was believed, based on language originally found in the legalization, that to preserve our right as a county to regulate commercial Marijuana activity, the Board of Supervisors had to put in place an ordinance specific to our county by the end of last year. Failure to do so would have placed the State of California in a position to dictate to our county what commercial Marijuana activity would be permitted in our county.
In other words, the BOS had to act in order to establish our standing and right to self- determination on this issue.
Why a moratorium? The answer is actually very simple. The process of putting in place a permissive ordinance would have taken longer than was available to the county given we were nearing the end of the calendar year and the understood deadline imposed by the state had been clearly established. With approximately 60 days left before the deadline, the only option available to the county was a moratorium.
To pursue an ordinance that was permissive would have required mandated state processes (California Environmental Quality Act) that usually take months to complete at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. But this is just part of the reason a moratorium was put in place.
My observations cause me to believe a second reason for the Board’s action was based on the behavior of some Marijuana growers in our county in the preceding years. Note that I said “some” — not all, but “some.”
To paint an entire group with one brush is not reasonable. There are some sincere, reasoned and respectful individuals who grow Marijuana for whatever their reason, but there are enough growers who are completely insincere, unreasonable and disrespectful to be a stain on the whole group. Promises by the Growers Association to self-regulate proved laughable. Well financed outside interests arrived on the scene, bought up properties and engaged in outrageous behavior that enraged neighbors. And those neighbors gave their supervisors an ear full. Well-known and years-long growers and sellers of Marijuana miraculously became modern day Louis Pasteurs or Florence Nightingales here to save all of “their patients.” And of course, the promise of a financial windfall for the county will never materialize as so many of the growers exploit their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status exempting the hundreds of thousands (and in one case millions) of dollars as non-taxable.
Finally, when a member of the Board-appointed working group announces publicly that he’s going to conduct business as usual regardless of the moratorium — well, that’s a nicely placed shot in your collective foot.
In short, the belligerence of “some” has resulted in the loss of trust and credibility for all. Past behaviors are looked upon as indicators of future behaviors and for that reason it’s understandable that a lot of people aren’t too excited about commercial Marijuana in Plumas County. But don’t despair, there may be an opportunity here in what seems a hopeless situation.
My suggestion to the growing community, which supports commercial Marijuana activity in Plumas County as well as those who oppose the same: Conduct yourselves in a manner that brings credibility to your cause. For the growers you can start by following the letter and intent of the moratorium. Don’t try to find every creative way to circumvent or undermine the ordinance. It will be recognized and denounced for exactly what it is — a pathetic effort to continue to grow and sell as much Marijuana as possible.
Understanding that the moratorium may be temporary and can be changed by the Board of Supervisors or by a vote of the people of Plumas County, take advantage of this time to reclaim a measure of trust and respect that has been lost due to the poor behavior by some in your ranks. To date, as I see it, the problem growers are doing more to harm your efforts than the groups who oppose your efforts. And to the anti-commercial groups, I would encourage you to be accurate, factual and civil in your discourse.
With the ability to legally grow six Marijuana plants you can produce enough Marijuana to stay medicated or high all year long. With today’s strains, even a novice gardener can realize impressive yields. If you have some left over you can help a friend in need.
But understand, I take my responsibilities very seriously. If you grow more Marijuana than allowed by ordinance you will very likely get a visit from my staff. We will be fair and professional as we assist you in complying with the ordinance.