Cannabis Message from the CEO
August 15, 2017
Cannabis Message from the CEO
Every California citizen should read this message. It applies to you if you pay taxes.
The Chamber Board of Directors received a presentation by County Counsel at their July meeting. As a result, our Board asked me to speak before the Board of Supervisors, who wanted to know what the Chamber recommendations would be as to how they and the county should govern cannabis businesses.
You'll recall the voters of this state made recreational marijuana legal to smoke in November of 2016 by a Ballot Initiative. This new law says every "resident" can have six plants growing either in their home or outdoors on their property, but in an odor controlled enclosure. And with that initiative and ensuing legislation a new estimated $50 billion industry is launched. The state is leaving the "How to Do It" to the individual counties....kind of.
The counties can decide to authorize the license to operate a cannabis business or not. Supervisor Miller said she thinks 38 out of the 59 counties already have to some degree moved on some decision to license. San Joaquin County, (SJC) can decide whether or not to license cultivation (growing), processing (into food or candy-like products) testing labs, transportation & distribution and retailing. This is only for the unincorporated parts of the county. Each city, Tracy, Lodi, Ripon etc. get to decide what happens inside the cities limits with those types of businesses. Stockton has already legalized retailing to some degree.
Our Chamber Board's message was not to hurry in, but learn from the early adopter counties on what to do or not do. But if the Supervisors do decide to begin licensing here in SJC, your board has suggestions and here they are below, along with other comments that may surprise you...
➢ No outdoor growing. The odor has been known to travel on the wind and permeate the skin of a grape. It stays in the flavor of the wine, rendering the wine deficient and no longer commercially viable. We had three prominent growers one board member, one former board chair and the Chair of the Ag Committee. All three were in agreement. With 110,000 acres of wine grapes in the county it would obviously become very damaging to many acres of grapes. The profitability of cannabis could easily drive the size of grows and number of cannabis grows into the thousands of acres now growing a crop of far less value than that of cannabis.
➢ Therefore all commercial growers should be limited to indoor, never outdoor. The breadbasket of our country might be on its way to becoming the Pot Bag of the country. Some 19 states have legalized cannabis. It is a changing world, probably not for the better, as the cost of legalization will be very high. No pun intended.
➢ We also recommended confining the growing to Industrial Zoned Areas, and for the county’s convenience for inspection, monitoring, testing, code enforcement and the many calls for service the Sheriff’s Department will get.
➢ We also told the supervisors that farm labor, construction workers, low wage jobs and even mid-level skills jobs will be negatively impacted as workers opt for budding pot plants paying up to $50 per hour, with the option of being made in cash or “product.”
➢ Manufacturers, and really all businesses are worried about employees being impaired on the job. With the greater availability and crop abundance frequency will increase and bleed into work hours. Not a good thing.
The meeting started at 1:30 pm. At 4 PM they opened it up to Public Comment, I’d got there early knowing from experience I could be there half the night. I delivered the board’s views as stated above. But in the 2 ½ hours from 1:30 to 4 PM, I heard things that I found Saddening, Discouraging, and Amazing.
First, Amazing and Saddening… I heard the District Attorney come to the lectern and say, “I never would have believed I’d ever come before the Board of Supervisors and ask you to please allow the permitting of cannabis businesses to go forward as soon as possible in our county.” The reason for her statement was because in her opinion “We have lost the war against marijuana, and if legalized I (she) can go after the black market illegal operators allowing greater focus on meth and heroin.” She said an overwhelming majority of high schoolers today smoke pot, some up to 21 days out of the month.
The next remarks lay testament to sadness of the state of our society, with the next speakers being three different county-wide non-profits who help children and families through domestic violence and abuse and other painful things that hurt kids. These groups want to legalize pot and hope that they will receive some of the perceived quantities of monies filtering back to our county from the state’s collection of taxes from cannabis sales. These organizations are indispensable to the community and the population they serve. They all do a good and needed work, but they need money, money to fight the negative impacts on kids and families. These are sad days for self-control and character.
Our Supervisor Chuck Winn asked county counsel a question for clarification. He understood the State of California and the new law said any resident of the state could apply for a license to own a cannabis-based business. Then he said that he’d heard the state changed that requirement since the election, to allow anyone from anywhere in the world to be eligible and could be licensed, and asked if that was correct. The counsel responded saying that this was indeed correct. Now, we hope the state would do extensive background checks, but don’t you think individuals or organizations outside our borders that are currently trafficking illegal cannabis into the US would rush to plunk down millions across multiple California counties to buy licenses and protect their current market share?
Then they would be a legal business, getting the protection of the law instead of running from it. Aren’t you excited about your taxes going to this new state-wide industry? The state also told our supervisors that if they choose not to license business in San Joaquin County before January 2, 2018 then we’d receive no tax money from the taxation of cannabis, zero. And those last two items via our state government are quite Discouraging. Pat Patrick
President & CEO
Lodi District Chamber of Commerce