Allowing outdoor commercial cannabis grows in Plumas would be unwise and shortsighted—and potentially disastrous. So would permitting the production of “honey oil.” Heard of it? Honey oil is the highly THC-concentrated ooze that’s produced when pot is treated with butane. Users coat their weed with it to boost the level of THC they ingest for a turbo-charged, super high.
Producing honey oil is dangerous—even for folks who know what they’re doing. Think about it: Pot buds are crammed into small spaces such as PVC pipes and then treated with flammable gas. Good idea?
Imagine a pseudo cannabis chemist filling his garage with butane in a half-baked, homemade honey-oil operation. People have blown themselves up doing this. All it takes is firing up a fateful fat spliff, and BOOM! Wasted.
Yet our Plumas County cannabis ordinance draft allows for honey oil production and virtually unlimited commercial cannabis grows. And here’s the kicker: A group of well-organized and proactive pro-grow people—folks with financial dogs in the fight—are writing the draft. Call me crazy, but tasking a “working group” packed with people on one side of the issue with creating a crucial county ordinance is like letting the foxes design the hen house.
I’ve been watching the pro-grow people at the supervisor and working group meetings. Some seem well meaning and fair-minded, but others are much too hot to hop on the money train. At times, I can practically see dollar signs in their eyes and imagine a ka-ching in the lilt of their voices.
Fellow Plumas residents: If you’re not sure how commercial cannabis could affect your quality of life and your county’s future, imagine these scenarios:
From your backyard you see your neighbor carefully tending his up to 2,500 square-foot grow. That is if you can see him over the seven-foot fence he’s erected—the one inside of and in addition to his property fence. Or this: You’re driving along Quincy Junction Rd when you’re assaulted with the powerful pungency of scores of pot plants. Your once mountain-fresh olfactory system is slapped silly by the skunky stink of a humongous hemp grow. How humongous? Imagine the size of a freaking football field.
Here’s a sobering factoid: Cannabis grows require an ungodly amount of water. A forestry expert described one good-sized pot plant’s water guzzling as enough “to make a tree cry.” If this is accurate, it’s a virtual certainty that water diversion will happen. Inevitably, this will negatively affect folks who live downstream and compromise the hydration of existing plants and trees.
The straight dope
Let’s get to the burning question: How have other counties fared in states where commercial cannabis growing is a fact of life?
A commenter on facebook.com/plumasgrow described the changes cannabis has brought to her Colorado county. She writes of jobless people who come with hopes of scoring marijuana handouts and food stamps. When offered work, their drug habits make them short-term and unreliable employees. And “there are panhandlers everywhere.”
At a recent supervisor meeting, a former resident of a county that allows commercial growing spoke of shady outsiders, increased crime, socioeconomic issues and other “unforeseen” consequences. Yet a pro-grow proponent assures us that new criminals can be controlled with high fences, guard dogs and hired guns—exactly what we don’t want in our county.
Here’s the straight dope: Boosting the bottom line of Plumas growers is what this draft ordinance is truly about. And we’re where we are on the issue because of a failure of leadership from our supervisors. They can talk all they want of fair and open working group solicitations. They create ordinances and approve working groups—not their constituents. And in this absolutely critical issue, they are not representing the will of the people.
By farming out their responsibility to opportunistic pro-growers, they have failed to ensure a balanced working group. In order to move forward on this emotional and ultra-divisive issue, the only reasonable next step for our supervisors is to reset the process. Now is the time to proceed not merely with good intentions, but with real leadership and action. What we do now—or fail to do—will affect our county and its character for generations to come.