When California voters first passed Proposition 64 — the Adult Use of Marijuana Act — in November 2016, the measure gave the state two years to come up with a regulatory framework, rules and regulations for the expanded legal marijuana industry.
At that time we feared that was an extremely tight time frame, a sentiment echoed by many both in the industry and government. Most everyone seemed to be in agreement it would be closer to 4-5 years to get everything in working order, and 2-3 more to smooth out the rough edges.
Well, we’re less than a month away from that 5-year mark. The state is still tweaking its cannabis operations and starting to smooth out the edges, and Trinity County, let’s say they’re slowly lurching toward, well, something.
The long-awaited and much-delayed Cannabis Department Transition Plan — which one cannabis consultant accurately pointed out should be well past transition, and more of a full execution plan — was supposed to be presented to the Board of Supervisors on Oct. 5. It wasn’t. Planning Director Kim Hunter, who also tendered her resignation during the same meeting, said the plan is final draft form undergoing legal review before presentation to the board and public.
Given the county has now lost two lawsuits regarding its lack of environmental review in issuing cannabis licenses, hopefully county counsel will make sure the plan meets all state and local regulatory review requirements.
In the last ruling, the judge was particularly critical of the county, in essence telling them (and we paraphrase) to ‘Get your act together.’
We couldn’t agree more. Trinity’s efforts in regulating cannabis in the county has come in fits and spurts, and results can only be described as lackluster at best. Nobody seems to know what the rules are. Greenhouses — both legal, but many illegal — pop up at whim just about wherever there’s a level piece of ground, regardless of how much excavation takes place to level it. Some are uncomfortably close to existing neighborhoods and except for opt-out zones, one has to wonder if there’s anywhere in the county you can’t grow.
The county’s usual set of excuses — we have no money, we’re understaffed, there’s higher priorities — don’t hold up here. The cannabis industry through licensing fees have provided more than enough money. Staffing should have been ramped up long ago (it’s hard to believe among the thousands of planning graduates each year some wouldn’t want to get their start working in a county cannabis department within the Emerald Triangle).
And there’s no higher priority than getting this done, and getting this right. Marijuana/cannabis has dominated county activities for decades. It’s time to get it done and move on to other important items — the economy, housing, water rights, infrastructure, wildfire prevention. Certainly the county could use the anticipated cannabis revenue expected beyond licensing fees.
We’re hopeful once presented — and both the board and the public have a chance to review and comment — this plan is more than just transition. It’s past time to get this right, to get this done.