Approaching mid-November 2017, this is where Plumas County stands on cannabis. The deadline to retain authority to enact an ordinance or a moratorium has been met by approving a 45-day temporary moratorium. The Board of Supervisors scheduled their last meeting of 2017 for November 27 and they will discuss extending the October temporary commercial cannabis moratorium for a year. This holds off state jurisdiction that would have begun on January 1.
The County Planning Commission is expected to soon be at full membership and will review the proposed ordinance from the citizen-formed CGRCO (Citizens Group for a Responsible Cannabis Ordinance). The normal procedure after review would be to send that document back to the supervisors with or without a recommendation. The supervisors will then decide its fate.
The Board’s appointed Cannabis Working Group held its last meeting on November 9 and has finished their ordinance document. The CWG voted to send their ordinance to the Planning Commission.
New opposition group
A new citizens group in support of CGRCO was formed in Chester and had its first public gathering the evening of November 9. Speakers were Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood and retired Plumas County Chief Building Official John Cunningham. The new group’s coordinator is Chester’s Tracy DuBord.
Sheriff Hagwood gave a history of cannabis cultivation in Plumas County—enforcement actions, doubts about the validity of some medical scrips, and comparisons with other counties’ experience. He made a distinction that bad actors in the cannabis enterprises are not universal, but there are problems associated with the manufacturing of honey oil, and with local concentrations of marijuana product and cash. These problems have been worse in counties that are more lenient, he noted. Cartel activity is now increasing on private lands, probably because recent flexibility enacted through state law helps to mask its arrival in the area.
Mr. Cunningham discussed the features of the CGRCO ordinance document and noted that it establishes strong regulatory control on cultivation and commercial marijuana activities. But it does not alter state law that permits recreational or medical consumption of marijuana. Both men assured attendees that they have no objection to cannabis use as prescribed by state law and that they support the six-plant rule for recreational or medical consumers to grow their own.
Restrictive ordinance draft
The CGRCO has worked to keep its ordinance strict for a variety of reasons. Original drafts of the Board-appointed group’s ordinance were permissive to the point of unwinding provisions of the county’s General Plan, including special use permits and limitations on the rights of adjacent landowners to challenge commercial-scale cultivation or flexible siting of other commercial cannabis activities. In reading about unexpected outcomes in other counties that were permissive on cannabis, we did not want to see the same unforeseen results in Plumas County and we noted that some of those jurisdictions are trying to roll back their regulations to assert greater control on marijuana activity. No logical assumption says the outcome wouldn’t be the same here if we are too permissive. Commercial cannabis activities would produce risks to our environment, our economy, our safety and our quality of life.
We believe it would be prudent to start with a more restrictive ordinance, then, if circumstances dictate, loosen it, rather than approaching it the other way around. Tehama County (the model we used to produce the CGRCO code) found it necessary to tighten its ordinance twice to combat problems that surfaced after their first implementation. Growers face a “bait and switch” situation that is unfair to them if replacement ordinances impose greater restrictions than those that were in place when they undertook their operations. A more restrictive initial ordinance avoids that situation.
Help us keep Plumas safe
We urge all Plumas County citizens to review the information here at PlumasGrow.com and to join us in the effort to see that cannabis activities become strictly regulated. Our adult citizens can obtain their cannabis supply from a variety of sources as they always have, or they can grow their own. CGRCO sees no reason why Plumas County should become the location for multi-million dollar cultivation businesses that place all the risks and impacts on us, while serving out-of-area consumers and parking grower cash in offshore banks, avoiding taxation. There are California counties that accept commercial growing of cannabis—there is no reason for Plumas to be one of them.