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West County Trail passes property purchased to grow cannabis in Graton

Regional Parks Class 1 Trail Systems are Designated as Linear Parks with Protections

Dec 12, 2018

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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.  

Sonoma County Bike Trail Map

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.

Prohibition Created Fear of Cannabis.

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. 

Our Cannabis Ordinance is in Flux

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.



LINKS to MORE INFORMATION: 

Dec 11: Supervisors Move Towards Chanate Sale, Tweak Trail Setbacks for Cannabis Projects, Approve Housing Funding Plan, More

Dec 3:  OPINION: Jackalope Gardens in Graton - Friends of Graton (FOG) Objections

Dec 1:  Growing Cannabis: Are Park Trail Systems Considered Parks?

Nov 30: Jackalope Gardens Proposal for Cannabis Operation in Graton FAQ for Concerned Residents

Nov 29: Feeling Graton column: West County & Joe Rodota Trails - Parks or Transportation Corridors?

Nov 3: OPINION: A perspective on the wild side about proposed cannabis farm in Graton

Nov 2: “Permitted Cannabis” What does it mean?

Oct 30: Feeling Graton column: “NO” TO COMMERCIAL CANNABIS CULTIVATION IN NEIGHBORHOODS AND PARKS

Sept 21: Sonoma County Targets Unpermitted Cannabis Operations


CANNABIS SEARCH on Gazette website: 85 articles:  https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/Default.aspx?CCID=43340&FID=953457&ExcludeBoolFalse=True&PageID=21691813

Comments:

Dec 20, 2018
I'd like to offer some thoughts on the cannabis fear issue. To assume that the opposition to this commercial grow is based on fear is to ignore the very real and serious problem of neighborhood compatibility and land use. Friends of Graton (FOG) have have posted their concerns in the past so I won't repeat them. FOG has also posted the only factual plan, the one submitted to the County, the others are not accurate. They mis-label the office/employee/processing buildings and the number of parking spaces. The Incomplete Letter sent by the County Planner has noted 25 application materials that have not been submitted by the applicant. The Planner also lists the concerns of over 100 people who contacted him about the Project. Please feel free to read it- UPC18-0044. Unfortunately, at the moment cannabis is not just another crop that can be left in the field to ripen - being stolen is a very real possibility. The recent break-in of an indoor grow 1 mile away illustrates the problem only too well and demonstrates the need for the 8ft fences, night lighting, and cameras. Maybe one day things will change but this is the reality today. Today we had a large burly gentleman in Anna Ransom's yard and asking if this was where the cannabis is! The addresses on the permit are incorrect so he went to the address listed. Is this what we all need? I really don't see why it matters which strain of cannabis is grown THC or CBD - surely no one would oppose a vineyard depending on whether it's Pinot or Chardonnay or an apple orchard - no Gravensteins, Granny Smiths only please! Jackalope Gardens has told us that they will be coming up with new plans that will be better suited to the community, all good, but until then we should focus only on what is on file with the county, it's not so much the product as the buildings, parking, noise, traffic, lighting and yes the crime. I would ask people to look at the site and read through the application and the Incomplete Letter from the Planner and then ask yourselves is fear of cannabis really the reason? Several hundred people have done all that and decided it's the wrong project in a neighborhood, Quite a few people came to the information table we had and then shared that they were in the cannabis industry - they all signed the petition feeling that the Project it was just in the wrong place. I KNOW that they are not afraid of cannabis.
- bridget beytagh
Dec 22, 2018
Bridget: in response to your statement “To assume that the opposition to this commercial grow is based on fear is to ignore the very real and serious problem of neighborhood compatibility and land use.” - FEAR is ONE of the factors that people brought up over and over in the NEXTDOOR posts. It's why I addressed fear because although people expressed their fear of criminal activity, they didn't identify it as their main reasons for wanting the trail to be protected by the 1,000-foot setback. Irene brought up the fear factor when she spoke of coming home to police activity near her home which is close to the second facility applying for a permit. But most other people spoke about the negative consequences of growing and processing cannabis near family recreational activities, and residential neighborhoods. They are not afraid of the plant - they are afraid of the criminals. They don't want security fences and lights being activated by motion detectors. They don't want to think that criminals will be lurking about their homes in search of this property. If cannabis had not suffered 100 years of prohibition, this would not be an issue. Alcohol's 13 years of prohibition left a black market economy behind. Cannabis still suffers from its own black market. It will take a long time for this plant to come out of the dark into the light. Why does it matter which strain is grown? Because THC plants get people high. CBD pants are another breed entirely just like hemp cannabis is another plant. It's not the same as Merlot vs. Chardonnay. All wine grapes - even apples - can become alcoholic beverages if processed for alcohol instead of juice. Criminals see a pot plant and they don't know if they can sell the buds of one vs. the other. All they see are dollar signs in their eyes and they aren't the kind of people who will take the risk of going into business to develop a product and customer base through legal channels. They do not respect people's personal boundaries nor personal property. It's why neighbors will target grow houses, pot gardens, etc. among their homes. It's not the plant - it's the criminal activity. That's the Fear factor and it will exist as long as cannabis has a profitable black market.
- Vesta Copestakes
Jan 3, 2019
I think there is a difference between fear of an activity that might threaten your safety or your ability to enjoy your own property or your investment in your land. Bridget is referring to the insinuation that Friends of Graton (FOG) is fearful of change and that that fear motivates our actions to protect the trails and our properties from the downside of cannabis production. What a specious charge meant to dismiss the very real opposition to this threat. I'd say the majority of FOG supporters backed new trail when it was built, the new pocket park in Graton, the new redevelopment of downtown Graton and Orrin Theissen's new infill development in town. Fear of change is the new mantra of the very few supporters for a cannabis project along the trail. Really.
- Anna Ransome

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