Jonathan Collier: California Growers Association offers ‘Solution Statement’ | TheUnion.com

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Jonathan Collier: California Growers Association offers ‘Solution Statement’

It's already clear the Measure W "solution" isn't working. The "Emergency Ordinance" has been in effect since January, yet the front page continues to illustrate the sheriff's inability to eradicate growing-related challenges. He has proven our point. Prohibition is a failed policy. Measure W would not have resolved the issues we all share — youth access, smell, environmental degradation, and illegal activity.

The status quo is a crisis. We must work together to solve problems.

Creating a one-sided, win-lose scenario will only perpetuate the past, therefore the cannabis farmers will not write and push for a "grower's ordinance." However, the free-for-all and its associated problems must end. It's time to create win-win solutions that involve the entire community.

Although there are many responsible and conscientious members of the cannabis community, the rising criminal element, the environmental damage and the laissez-faire attitude toward land use have created legitimate concerns that urgently need to be addressed. It will be more effective to address them together.

However, the free-for-all and its associated problems must end. It’s time to create win-win solutions that involve the entire community.

We propose that this be a community-wide process involving, not only law enforcement and elected officials, but also the patients and the growers, the schools, the hospitals, the substance-abuse treatment providers, the faith-based communities, the neighborhoods, the environmental groups, the non-profit organizations, the businesses, and whoever else may have a concern. In order to be effective we must address all issues around cannabis and related impacts on our greater community.

The local chapter of the California Growers Association is working to build relationships with public officials, business and community leaders, and the cannabis community. We understand the need for change and are best positioned to foster solution-based responses to that which concerns us all.

We support permits, licensing and proper taxation, business development that moves cannabis related activity out of homes, certification and labeling, and concentrated law enforcement addressing criminal activity.

We're all concerned with these issues and wish to find real solutions to:

Youth access and school performance — Criminals don't check ID's; licensed retailers do and permitted growers sell only to licensees. We support track-and-trace programs that prevent diversion, parental and youth education, and effective prevention programs.

Students going to school smelling of cannabis. Let's relocate cannabis processing into proper facilities that are locked and restrict access to the youth.

Trimmigrants — This issue resolves by professionalizing the industry and the workforce. Requiring 1099 independent contractors makes seasonal workers identifiable and accountable.

Water theft and protecting our water resources — We must address this with permitting from the State Water Board and the Ag Department; with best practice guidelines that dictate erosion control, and appropriate storage and application of pesticides and fertilizers.

Real crime — Violent crime and aggressive behavior is repulsive to the public, and equally reprehensible to the responsible growers who are often the targets and victims of these crimes. With a bona fide permit process we separate the good actors from the bad, narrow down the thousands of legitimate operations and isolate the hundreds of illegal grows, allowing more effective and efficient use of limited law enforcement resources.

Smells — This is a land use issue. Provide sensible land use regulation that places cannabis farming in areas of agricultural zoning where it belongs.

Influx of growers — This issue can be easily mitigated by adding a residency clause to the ordinance, as has proven successful in other communities adopting regulations. Moratoriums on new development can also protect against these impacts.

There are more problems, and for each there is a solution. The cannabis industry has been growing in Nevada County for decades and pretending a simple ban will automatically make it vanish is unrealistic. Our community faces complex issues that require input from multiple stakeholders to be effective. Shutting out stakeholders is not a successful strategy. We will not solve these problems by fear, persecution and tearing the community apart. It's time for a new solutions, solutions that bring the community together in greater understanding and cooperation.

We call for a robust multi-interest stakeholder process to address concerns as we create a framework for regulating, permitting and licensing medical cannabis.

It's time for the Wild West to come to a close. It's time to create a win-win situation. Let's solve this together.

Jonathan Collier, who lives in Nevada City, is a spokesperson for California Grower Association of Nevada County.