Trinity County’s Dist. 4 Sup. Jeremy Brown of Burnt Ranch received an opinion last week that he has been waiting for from California’s Fair Political Practices Commission on recusing himself from certain board decisions that may constitute a financial conflict of interest with his cannabis business.
Brown was elected last year to represent the Downriver district that also includes a small portion of Weaverville. He is a licensed commercial cannabis farmer, and until this month, has not recused himself from any board decisions involving cannabis.
He requested advice on the matter from the FPPC and has been in contact with a senior legal adviser there.
He specifically asked about three upcoming decisions heading to the board: an application to rezone four highway commercial parcels to allow a commercial cannabis storage and distribution facility in Douglas City; the draft Environmental Impact Report for the county’s commercial cannabis program; and board authorization of a cannabis tax initiative now slated for the March 3 ballot.
In an eight-page letter from the FPPC legal counsel, Brown received a mix of advice, mostly in favor of his participation.
On the rezone in Douglas City, the lawyer concluded that the rezone application will not have a reasonably foreseeable and material financial effect on Brown’s interests, and he may participate in the decisions.
On the cannabis program EIR, the FPPC conclusion was that the document will affect a significant segment of businesses in the county and does not appear to have a unique effect on Brown’s financial interests. He therefore may participate under what is called the “public generally” exception on decisions involving the EIR “to the extent that the decisions do not have a unique effect” on his financial interests.
On the third question, Brown was advised to recuse himself from voting on the cannabis tax initiative decision because it involves a specific tax rate applicable to his type of business “and thus has a unique effect” on his financial interests.
To that end, Brown recused himself from voting on the board’s agenda item last week to accept the county Election Officer’s certification of the proposed tax measure and place it on the March 3 ballot.
Though he didn’t vote, he was able to participate as a member of the public, speaking from the audience under a limited exception allowed within the Fair Political Practices Act for the sole owner of a business entity or property.