WILLITS — I am in favor of cannabis regulation in Mendocino County and that is why I am voting yes on AF. I admit it took me until recently to fully read the measure. I had heard from a number of no on AF advocates and was skeptical when some of their claims rang false: no environmental protections? Not accurate. A free-for-all zoning that would ok massive plantings? Not really. Locking our community into a non-democratic policy with no hope of revision? Not true at all. After reviewing AF and talking more with both opponents and supporters, I have chosen to vote Yes on AF, the Heritage Initiative.
My primary concern is that what we have now is a lack of regulation. There have been comments that this policy would create a “land rush” of exploitation but that is precisely what we in Mendocino County have been experiencing already. The streams being sucked dry, poisons endangering habitat and explosive rogue honey oil manufacturing is the reality that we deal with on a regular basis. Measure AF has very real and thoughtful policies to address these transgressions. The measure notes that both state and county agencies will be creating more specific regulations as the field evolves.
I have heard from one opponent that the environmental protections from the State Water Resources Control Board are insufficient and may not be properly enforced. However I have attended many of the State’s drafting sessions and they are in the forefront of this regulatory framework. That agency has gone out on a limb by delving into this legal grey area. After investing serious staff time and resources they are not going to ignore their own mandates. To aid enforcement they have designated a comprehensive program supported by hefty fees on the industry.
There is concern this measure gives “permission” to have honey oil labs in the county which worries our fire departments. Actually, AF restricts this production to industrial zoning and requires a safety and fire suppression plan. Currently this type of process is entirely unregulated and causes serious fire hazards all over our county. Mendocino County is the emerging leader in appalling explosions that risk the safety of our residents and massive forest fires. Regulation would decrease this trend.
I have heard that this is a measure created by the industry, which bypasses the public process when I know for a fact that this measure mirrors the state regulations and that the draft was discussed at length with our supervisors and key stakeholders.
While I have respect for many in the ‘no’ camp I have been discouraged with the fact that at most meetings where this is discussed the Yes on AF has not been invited to address the same group leading to one sided explanations.
Finally, AF offers comprehensive regulation that is available now. Any separate measure from the BOS or other group would not be ready for a significant time. This is a rapidly evolving area of regulation and it is prudent to be prepared to revise this initiative (which is an important provision of AF) rather than risk falling behind the rest of the State. My patience for those who exploit our community is at an end. Find out more for yourself and join me in voting YES on AF.
Holly Madrigal, Willits Ca 95490
This letter appears as originally published in the Mendocino Voice on October 17, 2016