Irony of all ironies: California’s Grand Experiment With Weed Legalization where everyone — growers, state and local governments, and One-Percenter investors — just knew they were going to get RICH, are now, thanks to Gov. Gavin Newsom, about to receive nearly $750 million in subsidies from a new-found surplus in the state treasury.
The pot industry and local governments with regulatory schemes, are not supposed to be taking tax dollars from the state, it’s the other way around.
Mendocino County alone is slated to receive approximately $18 million from the surprise surge in tax receipts ostensibly to fix their unfixable Pot Ordinance.
County officials have proven over four-plus years they are incapable of fixing their Ordinance even with all the gold in Fort Knox — I think there’s still a Fort Knox, isn’t there?
The County is now in its fifth year of attempting to resuscitate its failed and chaotic Pot Program. Even the Supes themselves have gone on record and called it a “failure” and “unworkable.”
They have spent more time and money on this issue than any other in County history. They’ve also said that on the record.
So what’s their solution?
Well, we’ll probably find out next Wednesday, June 2nd, when they are supposed to discuss and take final action on their latest attempt to repair all the damage done by all their previous amendments, changes, tinkerings, and tweakings to the existing Failed Ordinance.
The primary emphasis of the new proposed Phase 3 Ordinance is it opens up our County to unprecedented expansion of cannabis cultivation on a scale never imagined by anyone familiar with the history of pot in this area and era.
Of course all this proposed prodigious growth is to occur in a county that everyone knows is saturated with weed.
The planned expansion comes on the heels of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board), the State Water Board’s main enforcement arm on the North Coast, recently issuing an Investigative Order that found, “The North Coast Region is inundated with cannabis cultivation in headwaters and main river systems, with active, developed sites in steep and rugged terrain. Cultivation and related activities throughout the North Coast Region have resulted in significant waste discharges and losses of instream flows associated with improper development of rural landscapes on privately-owned parcels, and the diversion of springs and streams, to the cumulative detriment of the Regional Water Board’s designated beneficial uses of water.”
The Supervisors’ plan —keep in mind that only 3rd District Supe John Haschak is totally opposed to this insane proposal — is an in-your-face rejection of the historic pot farming economy of the so-called “Mom and Pop” model that has sustained local economies for 60 years. The Four Supes (Ted Williams, Dan Gjerde, Glenn McGourty, and Maureen Mulheren) pushing the proposed Expansion Ordinance are fully on-board with the bigger-is better corporate economic model that they believe, and have said, County revenues will be enhanced with expansion. They argue that it’s not their responsibility to protect small growers through the mechanism of a Cannabis Ordinance.
That’s what this proposed Ordinance is all about: It’s Big versus Small.
It appears that about 80% of County residents, who include growers, non-growers, ranchers, farmers, small business owners, workers from all sectors of our economy, and a mix of community organizations and municipal advisory councils, support the long-established small economic cultivation model. An idea that Supervisor Williams, a vocal booster of the super-sized expansion model, says “reeks of a communistic cannabis economic model.” I never knew that Commies devised cannabis economic models. I’ll do some research and get back to you.
Williams, also argues that, “Using public policy to create a monopoly, essentially rigging the market to only allow legacy cultivators [so-called “Mom and Pops”], lacks legal foundation …”
I don’t need to do any research on that misstatement. It’s perfectly legal to construct regulatory frameworks that restrict, constrain, or cap the size of operations. He wants to “rig” the market so it favors industrial and corporate cultivators. He thinks that’s OK.
If the Supes approve their 10% expansion proposal — or anything close to it — on June 2nd , it’s going to guarantee that a referendum to repeal the Expansion Ordinance will occur.
I don’t have time to explain all the history that has led up to this moment, but let me share this with you.
For several months now I’ve been working with individuals and different organizations preparing and planning a referendum to repeal this proposed Expansion Ordinance. I’ve formed a loose coalition centered around the 10% expansion rule in the proposed Ordinance.
For months now I’ve been working with Traci Pellar, of Layonville, and Charles Sargenti, of Covelo, preparing a referendum to repeal this proposed Ordinance. Unknown to me at the time while I was working on preparing a referendum, Sargenti several months previous had already been at work on it. When we found out, Traci and I joined forces with him, and we’ve been working together since.
The four Supervisors neither represent nor protect or advocate for the best interests of County residents.
We believe since the four Supervisors obstinately refuse to do their jobs which is to create an Ordinance and related public policies that do the most good for the most people, we must do their jobs for them.
That’s the purpose of a referendum. It allows the people to override dysfunctional government and correct the mistakes of elected officials.
I’ll have more for you on this subject next week as we’ll know by then what decision the Supervisors have made on the proposed Phase 3 Ordinance and whether a referendum will be required.
Here is Charles Sargenti’s explanation of where the referendum stands now.
Dear Concerned Citizens:
Out of strategic considerations, and after lengthy consultation with Jim Shields, and many others, both in and out of the cannabis community, I have decided to drop the 10% Referendum. As you all undoubtedly are aware, the Willits Environmental Center has been pursuing a separate Referendum opposing the entire proposed new Phase 3 ordinance. It has become clear that the existence of two competing Referenda will only work to the advantage of those supporting the proposed ordinance. There would be a distinct possibility of a scenario where a minority of voters support the ordinance but neither Referendum garners enough support to get the largest number of votes in such a three-way contest.
The good news is the Referendum will be only the first step in the overall plan we envision. Step 2 will be a citizen-sponsored initiative to create a cannabis cultivation ordinance that truly reflects the will of the voters of Mendocino county. The PROCESS for developing such an initiative will be worked out in the coming weeks and perhaps months, but basically the initiative will be to take the best elements (or perhaps remove the worst elements) of the existing and proposed ordinances and go from there.
Step 3. In my dealings and conversations with folks from all walks of life and all parts of the county one refrain has echoed repeatedly – county government is dysfunctional. The county has failed with the cannabis ordinance and the legacy growers, the county has failed with criminal grows, the county has failed with code enforcement, the county has failed in adhering to the General Plan, the county has failed in regard to water issues, the county has failed in regard to mental health (Measure B), and the list goes on. Ultimately, we aim to create a Citizen's Oversight group backed up by a coalition of everyone who is part of the current effort to force the county to respect our wishes, and all the others who are sympathizers but who may not have gotten involved with this strictly cannabis related issue.
The way this ordinance was thrown together with apparently willful disregard for the vast amount of input from the community is a glaring example of the dysfunction of the county. The fix is not just to create a decent ordinance - the problems run much deeper. The fix for those is in our hands. Please join me as we continue to build the kind of community movement we need to TAKE OUR COUNTY BACK.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)