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Hemp fight

Latest example of county leaders dropping the ball

As the latest drama unfolded on the third floor of the Plumas County Courthouse — this time over hemp — we couldn’t help but think: “We’ve been here before.” And it wasn’t that long ago.

We are talking about the board of supervisors’ failure to act on commercial cannabis — forcing citizens to step up and put it on the ballot to force some action.

When it came to inaction on hemp, the supervisors themselves admitted they had dropped the ball, with both Sherrie Thrall and Kevin Goss saying during the meeting that they should have acted sooner.

But since they didn’t, it set up a classic showdown between the sheriff, along with other county department heads, against hemp growers and their attorneys. The board was caught in the middle, but ultimately chose to abandon the elected sheriff, as well as their own appointed department heads.

We understand that they were in a difficult spot — that they were weighing the advice and information from those county officials against the protests of valley ranchers, some of whom have been here for generations and had worked with the county last year to be allowed to grow hemp. It would have been unfair to one family in particular, as they would have suffered huge financial losses if they had been unable to plant their crop. But because the board had failed to adopt policies and procedures, an outside entity came in and did what it pleased with no oversight to the detriment of the environment. Fortunately, it seems as if that group, Genius One, suddenly evacuated the land it had been working. Maybe the drama that unfolded in the boardroom did accomplish something.

But as this issue went to press, the group’s leaving was only a rumor. Calls to the sheriff’s office, the building department, and county supervisors were met with the same response — yes, we heard that rumor too, but we haven’t confirmed it.

We were set to send our county reporter, Assistant Editor Victoria Metcalf, out to see for ourselves last Friday, but were advised against it and told that a joint multi-departmental inspection of the property was being planned for this week. With all of the consternation over hemp — during the board’s meeting on the subject, an overflow crowd had to watch it online and then come upstairs to comment — it’s a little mind boggling that officials just didn’t go immediately. It’s the Sierra Valley not a foreign country.

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