Kirk: Opt-Out of Commercial Marijuana
At the BOS meeting on January 21, 2020, Jeff Muzio and around twenty marijuana supporters addressed the board. One of the supporters was Jaron Brandon who is running for District 5 Supervisor.
The supporters appeared to be very concerned that something was going to happen to Muzio’s business if we, the BOS, did not do something to “keep it from going away.” They spoke about how marijuana helped them with their medical needs.
At the State of Jefferson forum on January 22, 2020, Dameion Renault and Kathleen Haff, both candidates for District 4 supervisor, were specifically asked about their stance on Marijuana Cultivation. Renault summarized by saying, “It’s not worth it.” Haff did not address cultivation.
Muzio’s entourage appeared to be unaware the laws they were passionately fighting for are not under attack. Haff did not answer the question about cultivation; she deferred to the safe answer, medicinal use. A week later, at the League of Women Voters forum, Haff answered the question about cultivation by stating she was for medical dispensaries only. The next evening at the forum at the Game Room in Sonora, the question was asked again about cultivation to which she responded she did not have enough information.
It is for this reason, I feel compelled to explain to those supporters as well as Brandon and Haff what the issue is.
THE ISSUE IS NOT MEDICINAL, NOT RECREATIONAL. Those are both legal in California (although it remains illegal at the Federal level). It’s about commercial cultivation and allowing commercial pot shops in every neighborhood.
The conversation needs to stop being perverted with the Medicinal and Recreational conversation. That is a smoke screen to get large-scale cultivation and pot shops on every corner of our community. Medical and recreational marijuana is here under California law. However, cultivation is NOT granted by Prop 64; it is optional. Counties and cities have the choice to opt-in or opt-out. Over two thirds of California municipalities ban commercial marijuana activity – they have decided to opt-out.
The premise of Muzio and Brandon’s argument is cultivation will bring in more tax revenue.
On the contrary, Marijuana Cultivation will hurt the county budget.
For every $1 generated in taxes, more than $10 in costs to society go unfunded. “Such a conclusion is also consistent with well-established information about alcohol and tobacco, two legal drugs whose costs to society are at least 10 times the tax revenue their sale generates for the state.” (1, 2, 3) There is so little information available about the long-term effects of marijuana that even these estimates may be low.
At the BOS meeting on January 21st, Jaron Brandon gave a speech supporting Jeff Muzio’s business plan. He talked about how hard our recent budget cuts were and he thinks the solution is to open up more pot shops and cannabis cultivation in Tuolumne County. All we need do is look at the mess across the river in Calaveras County. They literally have no idea how much tax revenue they will receive or what the hard costs will be to manage the situation, let alone the long-term costs to society. Good thing Tuolumne County has stayed out of the marijuana cultivation mess; perhaps we would have had to make more cuts to cover the Cannabis Industry had we not.
As a Supervisor, I am a policy maker. I owe it to our community to know all the facts before making decisions, especially decisions that impact public safety. Let’s not rush into this mess. Let’s be patient, use our resources wisely and keep Tuolumne County a family-friendly place to live.