Dec 12, 2018
At the December 11th public hearing and meeting, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted to include all Class 1 trails - such as West County and Joe Rodota Trails - as linear Regional Parks to afford them the 1,000-foot setback protections from cannabis operations that were established as part of the Cannabis Ordinance. This topic came to a head after Friends of Graton organized to protest Jackalope Gardens who purchased land split through the center by the bike and pedestrian trail for their proposed CBD cannabis garden and processing facility.
Many locals wanted to make it clear that they are not opposed to cannabis, but that they are opposed to growing and processing it near homes, schools, and places where people walk and bike for recreation. The main cause for concern is crime. As Irene Durham testified at the public hearing, the cannabis business near her home has been victimized even before their permit has been approved. This new designation of trails as being part of the parks system, and not just transportation corridors, should provide protections for neighbors as well as people enjoying these trails. People are still asking for similar setbacks to protect residential properties.
The challenge for cannabis continues to be where it can be grown without offending nearby property owners. People complain about lights, the smell of cannabis, and noise from a production facility, but most of those complaints also apply to other agricultural businesses such as pigs, chickens, dairy and meat cattle, etc. Even vineyards and apple orchards can be noisy, farming equipment running from the crack of dawn, poisonous herbicides and insecticides sprayed on crops, etc. But none of these agricultural products are subject to crime the way cannabis attracts criminals.
Just like alcohol prohibition fostered black market sales, crime, syndicates, etc., prohibition of cannabis products created black markets, cartels, crime and FEAR of cannabis as a mind-altering substance.
The difference is that alcohol prohibition lasted from 1920 to 1933 – a mere 13 years. Cannabis prohibition started in 1906 when it was labeled a poison, then in 1920, it became part of the alcohol prohibition. But as alcohol became legal to consume in the mid-1930s, cannabis was declared a narcotic and by 1937 became a regulated drug. By 1970 it became a controlled substance. It wasn’t until 1996 that laws started recognizing the medical benefits of cannabis and even the fiber markets started opening up.
That’s enough time to fully-develop illegal operations, crime and a heightened sense of FEAR. It's easy to steal and sell, and because is still illegal under federal laws, operating a cash business adds to the risk factor.
Where this crop can be grown and how the products can become part of normal commerce will be determined over time. Other states are grappling with the same issue and in time, federal law will likely change. Can we adopt a policy that defines this as an agricultural crop that has to be grown away from homes and public recreation/schools, etc. UNTIL all the laws against it are dropped?
Is there a time-limit that can be placed on these restrictions much like a prison sentence with potential parole for good behavior?
Can we say – grow your plants outdoors but please don’t light the night because we have light pollution laws in Sonoma County?
Right now, in this atmosphere of FEAR, whatever will make people feel SAFE will make them accept this crop and products over time. We need TIME to change this fear into comfort. I believe the many benefits this plant offers can survive the test of time.
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