District II Government Update
By Supervisor Ed Scofield
The County is in the middle of creating a new cannabis ordinance following the “no” vote on Measure W in 2016. Currently the basis of the ordinance is being formulated through a Community Advisory Group (CAG) which is scheduled to present their recommendations early next year. The premise of the CAG is that all sides of the cannabis issue will be presented and a compromise recommendation will be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors.
With the “no” vote on Measure W, I have tried to be more open minded about cannabis cultivation in our County; however, keep in mind that my initial stance was a strong support of Measure W, which called for no outdoor cultivation of cannabis.
Compromise: an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. So I’m ready to compromise.
I’ll concede that cannabis represents a significant level of economic activity in Nevada County. Will the cannabis industry concede that cultivation too often leads to quality of life issues, concerns for safety, and can result in young families not wanting to migrate to Nevada County or even leave our County because of cultivation activities?
I’ll concede that there are cannabis growers that want to be legitimate business owners that will willingly begin to follow regulations and good business practices of a respected industry. Based on the results of counties currently beginning to implement a permit system, will proponents concede that we’ll only be able to permit some of all our growers; and, that many growers will continue to pay no attention to government, environmental, and neighborhood ethics? I note a news article I recently read with a statement from Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman who stated, “Please do not continue to say that cannabis is a totally harmless herb that God put on this Earth, and we don’t know why we’re fighting over it.” He points to a suspected homicide, an alleged armed robbery and kidnapping, and an explosion at a cannabis extraction lab all within the past 30 days. Sheriff Royal and District Attorney Newell will tell you that we have similar crimes involving cannabis here in Nevada County. I’ll concede there is potential for the cannabis industry to create a substantial revenue stream for the County. Will cannabis proponents concede there is a very real threat of cost to the County—especially in new positions needed to enforce regulation of cannabis?
I’ll concede that a permit system is needed; and that a permit should be relatively easy to obtain. Will proponents concede that a permit must address neighbor safety and nuisance issues; and that, the cost needs to be adequate to pay for the permitting process, including personnel and site inspections?
I’ll concede that there may need to be a transition period. Will proponents concede that the transition period is to be used for violations of building codes or other parts of the ordinance that do not pertain to plant count or garden size? Can we agree that a time period must be reasonable on both sides; in that, ten days may not be reasonable, but neither is three years? Can we also agree that items concerning health and safety may need to be corrected immediately?
Can we all agree that there is a way of reaching this compromise? We need to start with the points we all can all agree on first and then work together to resolve the differences thereafter.
It is my hope that the CAG will bring back to us the basis for a strong ordinance that involves compromise from both sides. I’m willing to make concessions; however, I must continue to make a strong stand for neighborhood quality of life issues. I also wish to see law enforcement’s support of the CAG recommendations. It will not do any good to create an outstanding ordinance if, when put to use, is found to be unenforceable. It would be great if cannabis proponents would agree to both neighborhood quality of life and an enforceable ordinance. Then we could begin to work together in resolving the differences.