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New year, same story: Commercial cannabis in Plumas is still a loser

Three years into California’s cannabis legalization, Sacramento is still bungling efforts to cash in on a withering Green Rush. An estimated 80 percent of the state’s pot product is black market. Yet California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control keeps tweaking the rules to entice growers to get licensed and legal.

Why would they? Getting licensed is a pain in the bud and prohibitively expensive for all but the largest growers. Most would rather take their chances than jump through all the hoops.

Yet in a recent Where I Stand article, a fellow resident winsomely suggests that, despite “minor setbacks,” Plumas County is poised to profit from a “robust legal cannabis industry in California.” Robust and legal? He also mentions our state’s “incredible accomplishments” in the industry in 2019. Like what?

The reality is that California has mangled its marijuana money-making plan. It’s nowhere near ready or able to realize a robust cannabis industry. Growers are not getting licensed and the state is being outmaneuvered at every step by black marketers — just as many warned would happen.

Our fellow resident is one the few remaining voices for commercial cannabis in Plumas. Powering ever onward, he points to hemp and its legalization here and nationally as a model for another try at something we shot down nearly 2-1 in November 2018.

I’m with him on hemp, but another go at commercial cannabis in Plumas is a nonstarter and, frankly, a poor excuse to beat a dead horse. That ship sailed when Plumas voters rejected it by voting down Measure B nearly 65-35 percent.

Even if we wanted it, it just wouldn’t work here. We have a limited growing season — for cannabis AND hemp. Hemp-growing families in Sierra Valley face a particular set of climate challenges that limit their success. Bottom line: Plumas is simply not a good spot for commercial cannabis.

For my money, no place is. Who wants more crime, a lower quality of life, higher risks for our children, water and wildlife, and decreased property values — and all the other negatives that come with commercial cannabis?

Not Plumas. Nearly two thirds of us voted against it and Measure B.

Yet our fellow resident encourages us and the county to revisit the idea of allowing it here. He warns us that to do otherwise risks having it “dictated to us by decisions made in Washington D.C.”

This is nonsensical. The chances of the feds forcing any state to legalize cannabis and dictating how they do so are fatter than a fat spliff. California leaders consider themselves mavericks when it comes to legalizing anything — vice or virtue — why would they be bullied by bigwigs in D.C.?

Our fellow resident advocates that we dust off the ill-conceived and ill-fated 2017 Cannabis Working Group’s ordinance draft and use it as a starting point for “revisiting” commercial cannabis. Why would we go back to considering something a healthy majority of residents and voters soundly rejected?

He also asserts that had hemp been federally legalized in 2017, Plumas voters would have been much more open to allowing commercial cannabis here. This is wishful thinking and a non sequitur.

Low-THC hemp may look an awful lot like cannabis, but it’s a totally different animal — and debate. Most Plumas voters who strongly opposed commercial cannabis in our county then will always oppose it no matter what the feds do regarding hemp legalization.

Our fellow resident says Plumas would be wise to heed his calm and compassionate advice. He exhorts us and the county to trust him and other “skilled local business persons” to do their free-market magic.

It’s a real quid pro quo: We let him and others realize their commercial cannabis dreams in Plumas and enrich themselves at our expense. In return, we get “clean & sustainable” new jobs in a magically revitalized local economy.

Haven’t we already heard and seen this song and dance? With all due respect, sir, please let it go.

I and others in the Cannabis Citizens Group invite you to roll up your sleeves and help us promote Plumas in ways that highlight our little hamlet’s true worth: Its natural beauty and potential as a Sierra Nevada gem and tourist destination.

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