Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Passion and Progress at County Cannabis Committee Meeting

Jim Coffis

The Board of Supervisors may soon get a recommendation from their citizens committee to create a clear path to legitimacy for cannabis businesses in the County.  Twenty three years after 76% of voters approved local Measure A, providing that citizens should be allowed access to medical marijuana, the County may soon make legal the process which provides the ability for patients to gain that access without having to grow and process themselves.

At the 6th meeting of the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) all thirteen appointees expressed agreement that their focus should be on establishing an acceptable local licensing scheme to permit commercial cannabis cultivation.  In the first vote they’ve taken to consider a specific policy recommendation the group unanimously decided to move toward a County administered licensing system that would likely include at least cultivators and processors.  They will begin working on the details at their next meeting.

In another vote the committee was split on whether or not to invite Sheriff Jim Hart to a future meeting.  After considerable discussion they decided to request that he meet privately with a sub-committee to be headed by Eric Hammer.  

As momentous as their decision to pursue licensing over other options was, the most impressive and dramatic moments of the four hour meeting came later.  After a presentation from a south county cultivator and product producer who narrated a slide show that demonstrated the high level of sophistication and expertise involved in his ten year old operation.

Near the end of his presentation he described how Sheriff’s officers raided his home and business, destroyed his crop and confiscated personal property including his phone.  He described himself as a “refugee from the war on drugs”.

His statement elicited a passionate response from committee member Pat Malo who said that people who are dedicated to producing medicine “for our parents, our friends and our community live in constant fear.  We are not all equals at this table." he said  "Some of us go to sleep each night wondering if tomorrow will be the day they come for us.”

Two of the attorneys on the committee, Rahn Garcia and Steve Premo expressed their personal appreciation for his efforts drawing applause from the rest of the committee.

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