by Patricia Smith former Community Relations Director Twin Rivers Group
In full disclosure, I worked with Paul Rogers and company A group of greedy carpetbaggers with the help of Paul Rogers, a local cannabusiness owner, have submitted a proposal to the Yuba County Board of Supervisors to approve 140 acres of marijuana cultivation. Jeff Lake, the San Diego attorney and partner of this group (formerly known as the Twin Rivers Group), plans to purchase the Timbuctoo Ranch to grow 40 acres of marijuana.
I’ve heard them plot to corner the markets in Yuba, Sutter, Butte and Colusa Counties by controlling cultivation, processing, manufacturing, distribution and sales, squeezing out the small family farmers who supplement their incomes growing and processing medical marijuana.
To justify this insanely large cultivation, they are promising the county pie-in-the-sky numbers of good paying jobs and up to $6.5 million in taxes and permit fees. The only thing they didn’t include was a free mule. They fail to recognize that most of these jobs already exist even if they are currently underground.
They also fail to take community standards into consideration. How many times have we voted on marijuana cultivation rights already? If the community vetoed 99 plants, why would they accept gardens that could grow 16,000 plants each (400 plants x 40 acres)?
What kind of risk would they be exposing our community to? What would grows this size do to the water supply of nearby neighbors? How could they control the odor from this many plants?
These investors stand to make a king’s ransom and will promise anything to advance their agenda. They believe that the lure of big money will sway enough Supervisors to come on board and we need to watch closely who approves this cockamamie idea. We can raise money for the county without supporting this out-of-control plan.
How? MCRSA AND AUMA (Prop 64) have some good guidelines to follow. They give the County complete latitude to adopt some or all of the license types that will be offered by the state thereby limiting the number and size of grow sites allowed. The sweet spot lies somewhere between a complete ban and full adoption of the recently passed state regulations that allow up to 4 acres of cultivation for the most liberal license type. For starters, every qualified patient should be able to grow 6 plants for their own use (inside or outdoors as long as they are not a public nuisance). This will cut down on demand at a retail level. Selling excess product without a license would still be illegal. Exceeding the six plant limit without a permit would still be subject to the fines already in place.
For those wanting to embrace the retail opportunities now allowed by state law, the county could set up a permitting operation or cede that authority to the State. Fees should be variable according to license type to include opportunities for small farmers. I was pleased to see that the State now allows a micro-business license for small farmers to cultivate, manufacture (without volatile substances), distribute, and sell their product legally to licensed dispensaries - and we now have two in our backyard.
It’s obvious the times have changed. It’s up to us how we adapt. Together, we can find a reasonable solution, but first we have to sideline greedy profiteers who have no concern for this community.