First of all, thank you. Thank you. Thank you for keeping our economically depleted county going for all of these years. Thank you for all of the money you bring into local businesses. Thank you for providing local jobs, jobs that pay a living wage. Thank you for providing our medicine. Thank you for doing all of this while carrying the burden of prohibition on your shoulders.
I am writing to offer you an invitation. To transition. To grow a small business. To become civically engaged. To leave prohibition behind. To protect your hard won heritage.
Last year the state passed MCRSA, the Medical Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act. State law now says that cannabis is an agricultural product, and that you have a right to commercially cultivate and earn an honest living doing so. Counties surrounding us have moved forward and joined the regulated cannabis market.
I’m not not suggesting this will be easy, or even successful at first. Launching a business is expensive and very hard work. Launching a business with onerous regulation and high tax rates even harder perhaps. But I do suggest you think about what it would feel like to reintegrate. To pay local taxes that will help your community. To belong to trade associations openly as a grower or manufacturer of cannabis. To not have to worry about law enforcement, or child protective services. To have a brand. To celebrate your life’s work openly. To leave your business to your children.
Regulation is here. MCRSA is law. The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board says that if you are cultivating 2000 sq ft or more of cannabis, that you are mandated to register with their Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program. The Adult Use of Marijuana Act is on the state ballot. Prohibition is coming to an end.
The thing is, if you want to join the regulated market and get those new licenses from the state, you have to get county permits first. Community stakeholders worked hard with the County Board of Supervisors over this past year to come up with local permits, but to say that the process is complicated is an understatement. Our community’s work educating government about the cannabis industry has been going on for years. This very complicated process continues on. County government’s draft ordinance, which is only for cannabis cultivation & nursery operations is currently under environmental review. We don’t know when this review will be complete. We also don’t know if the resulting ordinance will be subject to lawsuits just like the Urgency Ordinance we saw this summer.
So, what to do? Vote yes on Measure AF. Written by and for the people of Mendocino County, based off of state law, Measure AF is a local voter initiative to regulate commercial cannabis activity. ALL commercial cannabis activity. It offers permits for; cultivation, nursery, processing, manufacture, transportation, distribution, lab testing & dispensaries. The very same licenses that state is offering. You cannot get state permits WITHOUT a county permit.
AF goes into effect immediately after it is passed into law by the voters of Mendocino County. Voter initiatives are way less vulnerable to lawsuits, so AF offers us a better chance at regulatory stability. Measure AF is the best shot we have at getting county permits in a timely fashion, so we can join surrounding cities and counties in moving forward with regulation and participation in a vigorous statewide market. This is our time.
Regulation is the path to legalization. We as a county can take this first step together. Vote yes on Measure AF.
Cannabis Educator & Advocate, Mendocino County Resident