Why you should vote NO on Measure B

I am writing to you on behalf of the Cannabis Citizens Group and asking that when receive your mail-in ballot in the second week of October, you vote no on Measure B. More than 1,000 of our resident citizens have now entrusted us with their names in our effort to ban commercial cannabis in Plumas County.

I joined the Cannabis Citizens Group in the summer of 2017 after witnessing in public meetings the hubris and condescension of the growers. I also came to believe that commerce in cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, processing, testing, retailing, transporting, distributing and marijuana event organizing, through a variety of venues is antithetical to the quality of life in Plumas County. I did not make up all the commercial activities listed above, they are found in MEASURE B’s, Medicinal and Adult Use of Cannabis Ordinance.

When I consider a public policy, for me both the merits of the arguments and whom I can and cannot trust decide the issue.

The Cannabis Citizens Group has been satirized by local growers and their cohorts, as a small elite group of primarily retired citizens. We were said to not care about or understand young people who were just getting started and trying to make a living. The facts put that charge to rest.

I am a semi-retired Feather River College history and political science teacher. I still oversee two out-of-county programs that I brought to the college in the 1990s.

Our leadership team includes a structural designer, an addiction counselor, a berry farmer, an online educator/counselor, our hospital administrator and doctor, a Feather River College trustee, the congressional aide for District 1, a former Les Schwab Tires shop owner, a former banker, a ground source heat pump installer, a civil engineer, a Maidu indigenous community organizer, a land-law attorney, a journalist and a part-time college administrator.

Does this seem like a group of out-of-touch elitists?

Those who have joined with us are people you know and trust. All you need to do is examine the (alphabetical by last names) supporters list of those who are standing with us against Measure B in this week’s paper.

They are working people: young, middle-aged, older and working and retired. They are parents of young children,  are of differing ethnic backgrounds, republicans and democrats, some religious and others not. Ranchers, farmers, mill workers, local business owners, online entrepreneurs, medical professionals, sworn safety officers, volunteer fire fighters, first responders, bank tellers, teachers, people who cut your hair, care for your health, handle your groceries, serve you food, process your taxes, remodel your homes, work on your cars, grow local organics foods … they are people you know and trust.

They are against commercial cannabis and are asking you to join them in voting no on Measure B. We are all local people who will not financially profit if Measure B fails. And every cent of the money our political action committee has spent has been locally raised (while about 50 percent of the Pro-B money has come from one out-of-county person).

Measure B is not about implementing Proposition 64, which decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana, as the proponents have argued. Measure B was written by and for persons seeking financial gain. California law guarantees the medicinal or recreational use of cannabis; it does not need Measure B. We may grow it, or share it or buy it from an out-of-county distributor. We do not need Measure B.

Apart from liberty to use cannabis, another argument needs consideration. If commercial cannabis were proven to create thriving economies, why would every city and county not embrace it? Two-thirds of California counties and municipalities have banned commercial cannabis activity. And this has taken place in California, the hub of technological innovation in our nation. Are the Measure B advocates wiser than the local government leaders in most of California?

In essays like this one, Measure B backers say that if you were just more civic minded and educated you would come to their side. Civic minded? Let’s examine the behavior of many growers concerning our county’s cannabis cultivation moratorium.

Following CA law, Plumas County permits adults to grow up to six plants (per residence), for medicinal or recreational use, but has banned all commercial cannabis activity until October of 2019.

If the growers wish to be believed and trusted by the general public why are so many of them defying the ban and cultivating? Sheriff Hagwood told me recently that his department has so many illegal grows to investigate that he can only process a small number of them. 30 have been found and abated since July when he was empowered by the Board of Supervisors to enforce the moratorium, something the Citizens Group had been advocating since mid-March of this year.

Do the growers not understand that this is illegal? I don’t think so. As sheriff Hagwood has opined: “the growers will obey the laws that they write.” Why does Mr. Hagwood publicly oppose Measure B? He does for many reasons, including the experiences of his colleagues in similar rural counties.

He has stated that any specific standard of commercial growing cannot be enforced in Plumas County, because it is 90 percent forests and 75 percent public lands. If Measure B passes his officers would still be responsible for abating black market and cartel grows, and would be “constantly engaged going from sanctioned grow to grow checking licenses and counting plants.” He would need several more deputies to keep up with regular police work. Who do you trust, Sheriff Hagwood or local growers?

Finally, Supervisors Sanchez and Engel, the chair and vice chair of the Plumas County Board of Supervisors have joined the supporters list as opponents of Measure B. They believe that commercial cannabis would be injurious to the culture and budget of our county. So has Robert Meacher, long time member of the county board of Supervisors and in recent years city administrator of Portola. Again, whom do you trust?

My wife Margaret and I raised three children in Quincy. Our family and friends love coming here because of the uniqueness of Plumas County. We do not anticipate ever leaving Quincy and we do not wish to see its quality of life degraded.

In my 47 years living in Plumas County, I know of no previous public matter of such importance as this one. We hope that you will agree and join us in opposing commercial cannabis and VOTE AGAINST Measure B.