Marysville is like an island in the Yuba-Sutter area – not because of the ring levee, but because of its attitude toward cannabis.

Elected officials in Marysville see cannabis activity as a tax source and way to boost the economy.

“It’s another source of revenue we need,” Marysville council member Bill Simmons said.

Other local governments, city and county, don’t see things the same way. They’re taking wait-and-see attitudes or tend to turn thumbs down on the possibilities.

Simmons said he’s been pro-cannabis every step of the way, dating back to the approval of the Perfect Union dispensary on F Street to the latest approval of a cannabis testing facility, which council took action on at its last meeting in July.

Simmons said generating revenue and growth for Marysville outweighs the morality people have assigned to cannabis activity.

“It’s not a moral issue for me, it’s a business decision and that’s been my philosophy since we started this,” Simmons said.

Simmons and others on the council, including Mayor Ricky A. Samayoa, also want to pursue changing city ordinances to allow for adult-use recreational cannabis activity and mobile deliveries in town.

All those activities would be licensed, and pay fees and taxes, contributing to city coffers.

With deliveries, Simmons said, the way the ordinances now stand, when a Sacramento business makes a stop in Marysville, Sacramento gets the sales tax revenue. He said it needs to be altered to require cannabis delivery drivers to have business licenses in Marysville.

“Then we can start to collect the sales tax on each of the deliveries,” he said.

Samayoa said in a previous story in the Appeal-Democrat that the economic benefit with cannabis legalization is not to be denied.

However, he and the city still want to ensure that the products are processed correctly.

“Our goal is to provide safe and accessible cannabis products for the public,” Samayoa said.

Council member Brad Hudson, who owns a local tavern,  said the city is in dire straits when it comes to local businesses.

“We need more businesses (and) we will support them as much as we can,” Hudson said.

Hudson has no moral issue with cannabis so long as laws are followed.

“I have no problem with responsible use of marijuana,” he said.

Anti-cannabis individuals

There are individuals who have a problem with Marysville’s embrace of cannabis activity. Yuba County District 5 Supervisor Randy Fletcher voted to ban it in the county and continues oppose cannabis activity within county limits.

He said he’s simply following the desires of constituents.

Fletcher said the majority of the voting population in Yuba County has consistently said they are opposed to commercializing cannabis. In order to accurately speak on behalf of his voter base, Fletcher said he does not foresee any upcoming changes to the way he will vote on any cannabis activity.

Fletcher also has a few public safety concerns that states like Colorado dealt with not long after it legalized cannabis.

He does not want to see an upward spike in driving under the influence charges involving marijuana, which did happen in Colorado and other states. Fletcher said a similar trend locally could make it more expensive to run county entities like the Yuba County Jail.

From a financial impact angle, Fletcher said looking to derive revenue from cannabis sales could be a short-sighted course of action.

“It is a lot more complicated than simply ‘this makes money,’” Fletcher said.

Buck Weckman, a Yuba County resident who organizes and helps run the organization, “Stop Commercial POT,” out of Brownsville, said Marysville officials need to better understand the long-term effects of bringing commercial cannabis activity to town.

“I have been adamantly opposed to commercial marijuana opening up in the city of Marysville,” Weckman said. “The types of people the marijuana industry attracts is not wholesome to families.”

Weckman posed a question for the city to ponder: “What would they rather see in a community? he said. “Macy’s or a marijuana store?

Weckman said commercial marijuana is not a good, clean revenue source. He thinks the city is pursuing pot revenues because Marysville is out of any other viable options.

“Marysville is embracing commercial cannabis out of pure desperation,” Weckman said.

Tica and Mayor Lakhvir S. Ghag, who was apart of the majority opinion two years ago, are the only veteran members left on the council.

Yuba City, Live Oak continue commercial  cannabis bans

Across the bridge from Marysville, cannabis philosophies differ greatly in the cities of Yuba City and Live Oak.

Yuba City Mayor Shon Harris said the council has voted to ban any commercial cannabis activity within city limits.

“That’s money we don’t want,” Harris said.

As an addendum, Harris said the council has also gone as far as to ban vaping in public parks a year ago, which signifies a philosophy that Yuba City is not interested in expanding its ordinance for any type of smoking-related drugs.

The state mandates, as initiated by Proposition 64, will continue to be followed, Harris said.

“We don’t want to violate the law even if we don’t agree with it,” he said.

But anything further, for instance extending a city ordinance like Marysville is pursuing, will likely be voted down, Harris said.

“That remains my inclination,” he said.

Harris said he would be interested down the road in exploring a change in an ordinance to allow mobile deliveries of cannabis products. Harris recognizes there is a legitimate medical need for some patients, who do not have any other options but mobile delivery.

“I don’t want to make a lawbreaker out of somebody that has a legitimate need,” Harris said.

Over in Live Oak, there has been an ordinance banning commercial cannabis activity in the city since May 2017.

Councilman Aleksandar M. Tica voted against the ban two years ago and remains pro-cannabis today.

“I’m for it (in) the right fit,” Tica said. “I respect both sides, but for the council it’s what fits.” 

Live Oak is a smaller area in large part divided by a state highway.

“(For a dispensary), where are you going to put it?” Tica said. “Neighboring properties are going to have an opinion.”

Tica anticipates the issue will come before the council again, and with three new council members elected last year he’ll be interested in seeing what their opinions are regarding commercializing cannabis activity.

Tica and Mayor Lakhvir S. Ghag, who was apart of the majority opinion two years ago, are the only veteran members left on the council.

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