This summer has been difficult for me to grasp. This summer was hard on families, veterans, elderly, the sick, and also hard on small business owners. Within three months, I’ve watched six businesses on Main Street close their doors in Chester, three families become dependent on government subsidies to just feed their children. I’ve read about two possible overdoses, and one large meth bust. Oh and don’t forget the hundred or so DUI/alcohol related events in the blotter.
THIS ISN’T NORMAL. THIS ISN’T HEALTHY, THIS ISN’T A PROSPERING PLUMAS. This is Plumas in paralysis. This is a County with serious sustainability issues, such as not paying the Sheriff’s asked $100,000 for enforcing the cannabis moratorium. Whack-a-mole enforcement, does no one any good. While enforcement may temporarily cease a business’s operations, it does not curtail the consumer demand that drives both the legal and illegal markets. It’s believed the total demand for cannabis in the United States, including the illegal market, is $45-$50 billion. It’s not leaving, and it has the possibility of enhancing life for citizens where it’s regulated.
Besides the demand for cannabis, I’d like to point out four more reasons why Measure B is a green deal for Plumas.
1. Commercial Cultivation. Measure B makes it loud and clear cannabis businesses must partake in uses properly matching their zones. Cultivation is limited to only 50 licenses. No large cultivation is allowed, also no volatile manufacturing. Measure B does not allow any cannabis businesses in residentially zoned properties. Cultivation is only allowed in agricultural zoned properties, which is what the county code has stated for uses since the mid 1980s. The notion that a farmer isn’t allowed to farm on their designated zoned farming property is preposterous. Measure B can’t change the situation of six plants in your neighbor’s yard, that law is statewide. Measure B can however offer access to cannabis so someone isn’t forced to grow their own, indirectly reducing the backyard personal grows.
2. The Gateway to Children. The Institute of Medicine found that cannabis use does not appear to cause or be the most significant predictor of serious drug abuse. The American Journal of Psychiatry also found drug abuse is not determined by preceding use of cannabis, but rather by a user’s individual tendencies and environmental circumstances. Similarly, RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center suggests “that it is not marijuana use but individuals’ opportunities and unique propensities to use drugs that determine their risk of initiating hard drugs.” Colorado and Washington has had no increase to youth usage. Measure B implements setbacks from schools, odor and light restrictions, along with restrictions on marketing, security, and other variables that may influence minors. The notion that minors will have an easier time accessing cannabis with Measure B is a farce.
3. Priority residency. A lot of time was spent on research and development for Measure B. I’ve met with all but one of the Supervisors to talk about their concerns. Many were quite firm in their worry about a “Green Rush” and not being able to maintain the welfare and safety of citizens. They worried people would come to Plumas for the cheap land, similar to Calaveras, and disregard agricultural best management practices, hurting the land, water, animals, and environment. Some supervisors expressed the Sheriff wouldn’t have the staff or budget to maintain order. This continues to play out, with the Sheriff unable to collect on the money he’s already spent doing abatements.
Measure B included a temporary local priority residency statute, one which requires proof of prior operation (proof of paying cannabis taxes) since 2016. There are many instances where local priority policies such as the one in Measure B are employed, for example, many state colleges use a local priority policy for their enrollment process. California made priority applications for cannabis companies in order to streamline the process of obtaining the new state licenses, recognizing these companies have always been in compliance.
4. Initiatives by the people, for the people. The citizen initiative process has been around since 1911, and is why Measure B will be on your upcoming ballot. It’s presented to the people for a vote, written by the people. Tax measures, government regulation, education, prohibition, have always been a part of the initiative process for laws to become reality. Measure B is direct democracy, it’s part of the democratic decision making process, used for many reasons. This approach isn’t new, or uncommon.