Opinion Piece by Jesse Davis – January 17, 2016 –
The wheels of Sacramento are rolling commercial medical cannabis out to the people of California and in about two years time Del Norte county will have an ordinance that reflects the wishes of the local population. What are these wishes, you ask? Well the County Supervisors are dying to know! They’re all up for election over the next two years. This isn’t Humboldt; but it’s not Idaho either.
Is the conservative base anti-cannabis? Perhaps rightly fearful of the unknown side effects of cannabis becoming a bigger part of our economy and community? Are the benefits people get from cannabis worth the risk to others? Are there religious convictions that will always be in conflict with it. Can a county with an economy and culture based largely on corrections and government industry then integrate cannabis without being disingenuous? Are there people here, in power positions, who will never stop fighting against it? Sargent Griffin of the Drug Task Force is known for his heavy hand, yet is often more permissive than he could be with small private gardens. The City Council is trying to temporarily ban all cannabis activity due to lack of confidence in our State Representatives’ and Governor’s promise to correct an unintentional legislative deadline. The council has stated the effort is not ‘anti-marijuana’.
Can Del Norte afford to continue to be relatively isolated from the economic benefits of participation in the huge cannabis economy of the north coast? Should adults have the right to access or cultivate cannabis safely without risk of arrest when done in compliance with every law, on private property with owner consent, and with no neighborly objections? Is it moral to support a legitimate medical use for a person while not supporting a safe realistic mechanism for access. Is cannabis so dangerous that we can find no place for it and trust no one with it? Can we have it in the economy while increasing responsibility for youth?
The Board of Supervisors, the Sheriff’s Dept., the District Attorney, Drug Task Force, the Community Development Dept., and everyone else who I would expect to weigh in have all been very quiet on this topic. Maybe they’re waiting to hear from us so they can integrate their personal opinions with what their constituents ask of them. CAO Jay Sarina has indicated there has been some discussion in private but with no info for the public. Supervisors Howard, Finigan, and Hemmingsen have attended CSAC meetings on the subject but with little indication to us of their direction as leaders. Other counties near by have had several public meetings about cannabis ordinances. No one in Del Norte is ready to be the ‘weed’ candidate. Maybe there just aren’t enough people who care about this topic to get a fruitful discussion going. I hope that is not the case. Supervisors, please communicate with us!
I am generally conservative leaning toward libertarian ideals on some issues. I support private property rights. I support the right to live free from any nuisance caused by activities of others. Often these two ideals clash. I support communication, due process, and constitutional consideration when solving most issues. I think cannabis can be in our world without holding us hostage from achieving any community goals and examples we share . Total prohibition of cannabis has prevented real discussion based on experience. We lose the ability to deal with the reality that cannabis exists currently, it affects a lot of people, and it will never go away. Prohibition is an expensive way to affect price through limited supply, with few other options. A regulated industry can pay for the cost of enforcement and mitigation rather than burdening us. This sends the powerful message that we’re in control, not fighting for control.
Please join this discussion at any public venue possible such as: BOS meetings, ‘Lunch with the Law’, town hall meetings, your favorite local establishment, and any local media who will publish your message. If you’re afraid to speak in support of cannabis then let’s accept our new sheriff, D.A., and judge in their declared commitment to transparency and progress by exercising our free speech obligations locally. Two Supervisors (Gitlin and Finigan) are up for election this summer (and three the next year) so they will be eager to know what you want from them this year. Please remember to be respectful of each other. Every viewpoint has a valid seat, and when we spend time trying to truly understand divergent thoughts, then powerful solutions come to us!
Many thanks to Crescent City Times for providing this valuable public service.