San Andreas, CA – Called out by two of their own over the county’s mired policy process pertaining to regulating local cannabis grows, the Calaveras supervisors will be aiming towards repairing it at a special session.
The decision to calendar the event – and it will be Tuesday April 18 at 9 a.m. in the supervisors chambers — stems from this past week’s regular board meeting during which the board received a report from District 2 Supervisor Jack Garamendi, who leans towards honing the county’s urgency ordinance regulating marijuana grows, and District 4 Supervisor Dennis Mills, the de facto lead of a three-supervisor bloc that has county staff preparing a draft ban.
Recently assigned to form a two-member ad hoc committee on cannabis, the pair met April 3 and came up with bullet-point actions they thought both sides might support.
A New Cannabis Czar?
After suggesting first that the board terminate the committee so that, henceforward, all cannabis issues would be addressed by the full board, the two recommended immediately creating a cannabis control coordinator position (CCC) and naming a person to it before the end of the month. The coordinator would then be responsible for the remainder of this calendar year with implementing the overall enforcement of the county’s cannabis policy as it currently stands as well as how it might if a ban ensues.
Garamendi and Mills further outlined that the coordinator should report directly to the board and provide updates at the regular meetings of all progress made and obstacles interfering with achieving two primary priorities: the completion of current applications for permits — and elimination of all illegal cannabis grows in the county — before harvest 2017.
Towards ensuring successful outcomes, all county departments would be directed to make every effort to support and comply with these priorities; additionally, the coordinator would be authorized to tap outside agencies and or contractors. Another recommendation prescribes monthly study sessions for the coordinator to publicly hold with the board to further shape the county’s cannabis policy.
Use Or Lose The $2 Million Enforcement Pot
“We found in our study is that there is a lack of accountability as to who is in charge of what,” Garamendi stated, maintaining that a single person should be charged with overseeing the overall process in place. Continuing with his pitch, he opined, “We have roughly $2 million [in grower registration fees], and whether this board decides to move forward with a ban or not, the fact of the matter is the day we move forward with a ban is the day we give back that money.”
Kicking that argument up a notch, he added, “We should be working with that money to knock out the bad guys…people who are coming in — thumbing their nose at our rules. We have rules…a moratorium. No one should be planting any new grows since May of last year. Anybody who is — is an outlaw…breaking the law — and they need to go. We need to make some very clear messages as a board that you are not welcome in this county.”
Calling for a single, clear line of communication and accountability and the elimination of too many departmental gatekeepers, Mills chimed in that the quicker the board is able to move forward towards expending every resource available towards addressing the current situation, the better.
“Maybe we make it a national media event.. put a little thermometer on the wall and say ‘we are going to eliminate a thousand illegal grows this summer.’ That’s it — put them on notice….we have to be serious and make a serious statement to the public that we are not going to tolerate what has been going on the 18 months to two years.”
Thoughts From Somewhere In The Middle
The overall discussion, which involved several staff members as well as public comments took over an hour of the meeting time. Speaking with Clarke Broadcasting today about it, District 3 Supervisor and Board Chair Michael Oliveira emphasizes, “This is an issue that everybody needs to understand and be part of.”
Acknowledging the hundreds of grow applications that have yet to get through the current multi-agency review process and his focus on public safety, he adds, “We cannot stay where we are at but we need not just a bandaid fix but something that will be sustainable over the longer term.”
Although Oliveira was the only hold out when, last year the previous board voted to pass the urgency ordinance regulating cannabis grows, he continues to hold his own middle ground. Whether that is closer to the staunch three-supervisor pro-ban bloc of Mills, District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli and District 5 Supervisor Clyde Clapp — or Garamendi, who believes a ban just means Calaveras will be dealing with unregulated cannabis — remains to be seen.
“As we speak today I have been meeting with people on both sides of the fence,” Oliveira confides. “I am educating myself. I have to make my decision. I have not made that decision yet. I have to make sure in my own mind that I have the every piece of information – accurate information – so I can make that decision.”