As the City of Mt. Shasta refines local cannabis regulations, outside, big money interests are trying to turn back the clock and end the possibility of reasonable debate. We should not let that happen.
Last November, 72% of city voters favored Measure S, the cannabis retail tax. Both state and city voters endorsed Prop. 64 in 2016 allowing recreational sales. All decided strong regulations, balancing cannabis’ benefits and drawbacks, were far preferable to failed policies of the past.
Recently, after an initial mass mailing, the planning commission rejected proposed ordinance amendments – on a minor zoning matter.
Next, we saw ads and professional mailers from Van Nuys, California announcing two anti-cannabis rallies. “Take Back America” – a group of primary funders for the losing side of the Prop 64 campaign (such as anti-Semitic author Roger Morgan) – was a sponsor.
Costs easily ran to the tens of thousands of dollars to produce and promote the one-sided events of February 2, featuring outside speakers and two county officials, with no challenging questions allowed.
Planning and Economics
The most appropriate agricultural land for this industry is within Siskiyou County’s jurisdiction, yet there it is not permitted. The sheriff claims to have removed $157 million in cannabis. With a declining population estimated at 43,603, that works out to $3,600 for every person in the county. Even assuming such numbers were true, who would be proud to do that much damage to a struggling economy?
Siskiyou County now ranks 56th of California’s 58 counties in median household income. Factually, just 7 cannabis businesses generate about 20 Mt. Shasta jobs. Economically, however, the city’s “brand” will also suffer when portrayed as a backwards-thinking area.
Good environmental science (including the work of rally speaker Dr. Mourad Gabriel) shows unregulated grows on public and private lands do, in fact, damage our forests, watersheds and wildlife. But discussion can’t stop there.
Problems remain precisely because excessive restrictions (such as the county’s) fail to provide a complete economic path to legality. And that harms all of us who value the outdoors and like to hike freely. We all want to stop the outlaws. Yet we remember: Al Capone’s gang wasn’t much of a problem after alcohol prohibition ended!
We are united in concern for our children, and in countering the negative effects of addiction. There is no substitute for good parenting. That means telling them the truth at home and elsewhere. Effective social systems don’t only involve law enforcement, they must include schools, activities and other community resources that help children learn to think, reason and become good citizens.
Here we have cultural challenges from alienation, corporate resource exploitation, domestic violence, and poverty. Everywhere, lack of community connection is a primary cause of addiction. We can do something about that, without spending huge amounts of money on failed policies more likely to re-traumatize and extend the suffering.
First, the 72% of Mt. Shasta voters who endorsed the city ordinances can again offer their support for elected officials, as they continue to refine and improve these. Please email, write or attend the March 11 city council meeting. Local citizens, not outside big money interests, should come to the table with facts to discuss zoning and other details.
And second, though courts have ruled money is speech, Mt. Shasta can join 148 California cities in creating a simple lobbying expenditure disclosure ordinance. We hope this proposal will at least identify which special interests seek to divide us.
References below FYI: