It is a given that marijuana is here to stay. Is it a good business?

I listened to the complaints. I listened to the growers and I had concerns of my own. For instance, I’d heard from a Stockton man that RJ Reynolds tobacco company was in Calaveras County, promising people seeking permits, to fund them. The deal: they fund the permit and the expensive set up for the grow. The grower could run the farm for 4 years, collect the profits and then turn over the farm to RJ Reynolds for a preset price. The corporate profile of RJ Reynolds tobacco company, with a desire to take over  the new “smoke” was  believable.

From the audience,  growers and designated speakers, both trounced RJ Reynolds interest as a false rumor.

Another guy griped, they plan to do background checks and fingerprint all the employees?  That’s ridiculous. Why don’t they do that for asparagus farmers, or furniture makers?

I don’t know that fingerprinting employees is overboard. You get fingerprinted for civil service work. Wells Fargo wants your fingerprint before they’ll cash a third-party check. Fingerprinting is quite common. I get the “Big Brother Is Watching” comparison. There are security cameras everywhere. I expect a marijuana grow should have security cameras.

Obviously Marijuana is a different crop than asparagus. Marijuana is an addictive substance. There are those who argue it isn’t.  But anyone using it and using machinery, whether on a farm or a public road presents a danger to himself and others.

Rules proposed should be strict.  If someone has a criminal background, should they be trusted to obey strict rules? I once owned a grocery store in Murphys. I sold beer and had to have a background check and a license to sell it. I was fingerprinted.  I hired a young high girl to run my store on periodic days off and she sold beer to a high school chum, a minor, and put me in jeopardy. I believe it is smart to have a background check. Cannabis growers should have permanent employees receiving minimum wages and paying taxes.  Fly by night employees, with no record of payments, or being paid in cash, is a bad idea.

In Oregon, I own a house across the road from a grower. That grower can have six plants for each registered patient. The grower is very careful because if he is caught with any infraction of the rules, his permit is yanked, his stock is confiscated, and he can never get back in the business again. That is strict. Plus, inspectors can make surprise inspections any time of the day or night. This grower plants five plants per patient on the off-chance that a card is withdrawn and he would be six plants over his allowed amount if he had a surprise inspection.

That brings up another gripe.  How can a personal grower have 99 plants for his own use?  One plant will supply a pound of marijuana, way more than enough for one person. Even six plants is more than one person needs for  personal use.  Are they subject to the same rules as a big grower? They have to be selling it or giving to their friends who in turn may sell it to their friends and minors? I believe the Callaway/Stevenot initiative will solve that problem.

At the meeting, one angry guy, who came in late, shouted out a question and he was shouted down for not following protocol. After the meeting, my friend asked him what the problem was. He explained that he has, (I think it is six plants), he paid his permit fees and found out that the landowner he rented from had to sign as the grower and his landlord didn’t want to sign. Now he is stuck with the plants, he wants to be legal, but his landlord won’t sign. It isn’t surprising that Callaway/Stevenot and crew couldn’t think of everything. I understand his dilemma.

Here is what I consider a problem. Why is it that Liquor stores must have permits and their employees are required to be over 21 to sell liquor?  Why is it that a limited number of licenses are available for bars who are dispensing spirits? If you want to open a bar, or a restaurant where you dispense hard liquor, there is a limited number of licenses allowed according to the size of the population you serve? Yet, Calaveras County accepted, from last count, over 900 applicants. This county has a small population, but a great growing area. Are we to become a Mecca for marijuana users?   Callaway said, “I don’t see how any of you are going to make any money.”

One couple my friend and I talked to, burned out by the Butte Fire. They had a wonderful tree business on their property. Their livelihood was stripped from them in one day. They’ve decided to become growers. I hope they make it. They are the type of people who will be solid citizens and help legitimize a volatile substance so it doesn’t endanger our kids and invite cartels into the process.

The illegal growers hiding in canyons don’t want regulation and they will vote it down. Our sheriff has complained he needs a law to go in and take them out. The county adopted an urgency ordinance, a temporary ordinance until the voters speak.

Electricity is a problem. Three fires were caused this past week on marijuana grows. One, while working on a generator and another while trying to hook up a well. The third fire, cause unknown. We need infrastructure, better roads, more power. Plus strict controls.

I’m a supporter of legalized cannabis with strict regulations. I suspect we’ll muddle through, but it won’t be easy. Supervisor Oliviera attended the meeting and he exhorted people to study the issues before they voted. Good advice, but it is a tough call.



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