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The Plumas County Cannabis Working Group listens to commentary at the Aug. 2 special meeting to discuss the draft ordinance with District 1 constituents. From left, Mat Fogarty of District 2, Supervisor Jeff Engel, Supervisor Kevin Goss, Kim Scott of District 1 and Cindy Robinson of District 4. District 5 representative Debbie Thompson was unable to attend the meeting. Photos by David Nickerson

District 1 opines on draft cannabis ordinance

The Cannabis Working Group held its fourth meeting Aug. 2 at the Portola Veteran’s Memorial Hall in a series of meetings that have been held countywide. The room was packed and local constituents from District 1 were ready to give their opinions on the Plumas County Draft Cannabis Ordinance.

Public comment is crucial

The meeting began with an introduction by Plumas County Planning Director Randy Wilson, who came prepared with a slideshow and mapping tools to share with the room.

“The Cannabis Working Group has worked through many meetings thus far,” Wilson said. “The group was appointed by the Plumas County Board of Supervisors.”

Wilson went on to explain that public input, whether verbal or written, is highly encouraged, as the input generates change and revision of the ordinance as it moves toward the point where it will go in front of the board of supervisors.

Wilson stressed the point that there were “no absolutes” at this time, because the supervisors have sanctioned the process of creating an ordinance, but again, the board does not have to approve the ordinance in the end.

The current recommendation is that cannabis activities should be taxed at the local level and that a general tax measure must be passed by voters, according to the slide show, with Wilson adding, “If there is no tax measure, there will be no ordinance.”

Wilson also spoke about how the group is working to address neighborhood compatibility issues in reference to zoning, with the repeated reminder that as this work to create an ordinance is under way, the public needs to keep in mind that if there isn’t an ordinance in place by the end of the year, state mandated regulations will automatically become effective as of Jan. 2, 2018. “We don’t necessarily want the state to control us,” Wilson added.

Multi-agency jurisdiction

There are many agencies involved in regulating cannabis activities, including the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, the Department of Food and Agriculture, the Department of Public Health, the Bureau of Cannabis Control and the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

“People need to keep in mind that there are many agencies involved here and that likely there will be fees associated with the permits potential growers would need from each separate agency,” Wilson commented.

Commercial vs. personal grows

Wilson went on to go over the maps and zones in District 1, with a side note that the county regulations will have no jurisdiction over the incorporated city of Portola.

Wilson spoke about Delleker as a residential area, which has been designated as a “new town in the plan,” and how Delleker also has a mix of commercial and industrial land use in addition to the residential use.

Wilson went on to state that he applauds those that know their zoning, and for those that wish to learn, he urges them to visit the county website, as the ordinance is based on existing zoning.

Wilson explained that the working group is trying to balance indoor and outdoor cultivation ordinance, but that it was proving to be a difficult task, which caused many in the audience to titter.

He brought up the two main factors in the conundrum — personal growing and commercial growing.

“This draft ordinance mainly deals with commercial cultivation standards,” Wilson commented. “These standards include the areas of cultivation, dispensaries and cannabis related manufacturing.” The standards also include setbacks, security, fencing and inspections.

One major objective is to provide a pathway for illegal cultivation on private lands to become legal, as well as aligning local cannabis rules with state regulations, providing a pathway from local permitting to state permitting.

Portola community comments

Supervisor Kevin Goss took his role as chairman and began the public comment part of the meeting, explaining that the time limits for each comment will not exceed three minutes, unless another audience member wanted to yield their time to the speaker for one extension of three minutes. Thus, open comments began, with many declining to give their names.

District 1 opinions regarding cannabis began with a local gentleman who declared that he was “totally against dope suckers and people who grow,” stating that the Board of Supervisors seems to think that cannabis will be some kind of gold mine, and went on to state that there are too many problems in Portola already. He stated  that “we don’t need more problems, we need solutions.” The gentleman also went on to state that he viewed cannabis as a gateway drug and that he didn’t see anything good coming of it.

Many chose to speak, with a majority of attendees from the Sierra Valley, and many from the Portola area, voicing concerns over grows in the Maddalena Road area, with one gentleman asking, “Why are we even considering the possibility of putting dope in the Sierra Valley? I don’t want it here, and you guys shouldn’t either.”

The man also highlighted that the Sierra Valley came in first place after a national competition for funding related to the Feather River Land Trust and repeated that he was totally against the proposal.

Another man stated that he could see both sides of the whole situation and that he would let Google talk about tax revenue and property values.

“I majored at UC Davis in agriculture,” the man said. “I think that the pros outweigh the cons, and that [cannabis] is incredible for creating tax revenue for small towns.” The man also stated that cannabis would increase real estate values, especially in rural areas, and that there is plenty of room in Plumas County. “I don’t see the negatives if this was properly regulated,” the man concluded.

Many that approached the podium pointed out that they had no issue with private, medical marijuana users, but that county cannabis cultivation was not a viable option for them, as many opined that cannabis leads to the decay of the moral fiber of the community and could also lead to more drug experimentation with the area’s young people.

One individual emotionally stated that the Board of Supervisors needs to “do the right thing, right now, for this community.” Another man stated that cannabis cultivation had already affected and decreased his property value at his home in the Sierra Valley, and voiced his distress and concern over the greenhouses “going up.”

Concern was voiced over potential abuse of medical marijuana cards and another individual stated quite clearly, “The county will be on the hook for any decrease in property values.”

A man from Chilcoot stated that cannabis was something he considered to be a very beautiful thing and that people should have a right to medicine, such as people with epilepsy and Crohn’s disease. “A lot of the current medications are just no good,” the man said. “Everyone has someone that is sick in their family.”

District 1 Supervisor Michael Sanchez speaks to the room, ensuring that all were aware that they are welcome to send in feedback and input, with a guarantee that all would be reviewed.

One attendee pointed out that cannabis was a controversial topic and that any change needs to be controlled. At this point, District 1 Supervisor Michael Sanchez took the stand and informed the room at large that he was looking forward to receiving comments via letter or email.

“I know that it is a lot to review and discuss, but I promise that I will take the time to review them all,” Sanchez stated.

One individual spoke to the fact that several states have already begun legalizing cannabis or have legalized it already, and that in his opinion, there was no evidence that those states are now “bad states,” claiming that the states that have already begun this process have less use and abuse of opioids, not more.

One woman stated that “our kids will be the ones to suffer” if cannabis cultivation becomes widespread and voiced her concern over the moral issue at hand. “I call this a deceitful proposition,” she stated firmly.

An employee with the National Forest Service spoke eloquently, speaking about the fact that he had been with the Forest Service for nearly a decade and that he has seen the cartel [cannabis grow] damage first hand, “destroying the forest that we love.”

“We’re fighting a losing battle,” he continued. “We need the public’s help to combat this problem. I have spent months out there trying to clean up tons of garbage, miles of drip lines, all kinds of junk. It’s a disgusting thing, and I want to see it stop. If cannabis is legalized, I’d like to see help from the community. Rise up and stop these criminals. Please report any suspicious activities to the Forest Service, because I love this area. It’s my home.”

Comments and discourse went on late into the evening, and after each individual had a chance to speak their piece, Goss thanked one and all for participating in the democratic process, and the meeting was adjourned.

For video recordings of all meetings, access to mapping tools or a copy of the draft cannabis ordinance, visit countyofplumas.com. Comments are being accepted by Becky Herrin of Plumas County Planning Department at [email protected] or by phone at 283-6213.

One thought on “District 1 opines on draft cannabis ordinance

  • Cannabis makes you a second class person, you can see by the way your neighbors marginalize you. Plumas is so pretty but the folks are too old in general. Old people suck

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