A state and county-licensed cannabis farmer, Trinity County’s District 4 Sup. Jeremy Brown said last week he will be recusing himself from certain board decisions that may constitute a financial conflict of interest while he awaits a formal opinion on the matter from California’s Fair Political Practices Commission.
He began by recusing himself from an agenda item last week involving a proposed rezone of property in the Douglas City area to allow development of a commercial cannabis distribution facility even though the item was canceled.
Brown was elected to the board last year and took office in January representing District 4 that includes the Downriver communities and a small portion of Weaverville. Last week was the first time he has recused himself from an agenda item involving cannabis.
Brown’s predecessor on the board, Terrence Mines, and two former Planning Commissioners did recuse themselves from cannabis decisions because they were deriving income from the cannabis industry. In February, Brown announced he would not recuse, relying on what’s called the “public generally” exception claiming that any effect of a decision on his financial interest is not unique compared to a significant segment of the District 4 population (of at least 25 percent.)
He said last week that he has been working with a senior legal adviser of the FPPC who indicated “there’s a ton of gray area,” but recommended that he run every upcoming cannabis decision through the FPPC in advance, allowing up to 21 days to respond, until a final determination comes down.
Brown said last week he had not yet heard back on his inquiry involving the Douglas City project and would therefore recuse.
He said he has been encouraged overall about his ability to participate in discussions, serve on ad hoc cannabis committees and make suggestions about cannabis policies, “but if a decision would mean there is personal financial gain for me outside of the general public, then I need to recuse.”
He added that he has already initiated an inquiry to the FPPC on other cannabis matters he knows will be coming to the board soon including proposed cannabis tax measures for the March ballot and is awaiting a response.