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Sonoma County Gazette
Cannabis Farm

OPINION: Cannabis Advisory Board Meeting

Nov 21, 2017


By Gail M. Adams

This is a personal account of the Cannabis Advisory Board Meeting held at the Permit Resource Management Department(PRMD) in Santa Rosa on Wednesday 9/27/17. I was delayed in writing this because of the fire, but I believe my personal perspective is of value to readers.

There was a diverse group of people with personal, community, health and environment concerns around growing Cannabis. We sat quietly for 1 ½ hours, listening to the committee discuss the process of getting the legal cannabis industry up and running in Sonoma County by January, 2018.

Someone talked about permits and applications, code enforcement, and the penalty relief program. As of this writing, 119 applications have been filed. This seems like a very small number in comparison to the thousands of marijuana growers in the county. Is this any indication of the size of the Black market to come?

Complaints have increased against growers. There are 350 complaints. Several illegal operations were shut down. The Code Enforcement hot line umber is 707-565-1922. Complaints can be left anonymously.

Through the Penalty Relief Program, Illegal growers have the opportunity to work toward legal status. All requirements and regulations must be met by January 1, 2018. Outdoor growing sites have been limited to agricultural areas.

More outreach was suggested through the use of workshops. The October meeting focused on the creation of sub-groups.

The public had 3 opportunities to comment during the meeting, but no dialogue was permitted between the committee and the public (Robert’s Rules of Meetings?). The lines were clearly drawn between committee seated at the tables in the front and the public placed at the back of the room…two separate cultures with two separate agendas. Board members did state that they could have discussions and answer questions outside after the meeting.

Voiced Concerns:

- Destruction of the natural and peaceful quality of neighborhoods

- The impact on neighborhood wells

- The fear of parents for their children

- Safety

- Restricted outdoor play for children because of vicious dogs being used to protect grows

- Barking dogs and guard dogs

- The right to be notified before a grower moves next door

- The frustration of two organic growers who are in compliance with new regulations, but are not allowed to increase the size of their crop

- Anger of an organic farmer who uses good practices and exhibits respectful behavior and yet she is impacted by bad behavior and disrespectful attitude of some growers,

- The destruction of health and quality of life by pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in a residential neighborhood.

The growing of cannabis is a complicated issue made more complicated by ignoring public concerns. The marijuana industry is a 4 to 7 billion dollar business – large enough to warrant a comprehensive approach to policies that balance the concerns of the public with that of the industry. Legal or illegals, the impacts are significant. It is time to remove the blinders and focus full scope on the enterprise.

At one point a PRMD board member acknowledged that they were not talking about the “Elephant in the Room”…the illegal Black market. The other elephant they were not discussing was public impact.

The Black Market and Public Impacts must be added to the agenda of this advisory board. Solutions must be found and all possible safeguards put into place or this industry will destroy the environment and stampede the population.



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