Yuba County supervisors better have their flak vests handy – they’ve got a long trek ahead of them through sometimes unfriendly territory as they go about consideration of legalizing commercial cannabis operations.

The Yuba County Board of Supervisors now has a recommendation on the table that they proceed with allowing, regulating and taxing commercial cannabis operations. An ad hoc committee consisting of Supervisors Mike Leahy and Gary Bradford took more than a year to study the issues and then write their report. They said the county should draft ordinances allowing commercial cannabis activities with stringent regulations.

They reportedly studied applicable laws and operations. They said they met with community members, growers, visited testing, distribution and retail sites, toured grows and interviewed officials from other counties that allow commercial cannabis.

Their findings: “it is both appropriate and beneficial for Yuba County to establish local regulations and issue licenses for commercial cannabis activities, such as cultivation (indoor and outdoor), manufacturing,  distribution, testing and retail (including delivery).”

They reported that highly regulated commercial cannabis businesses would provide jobs and other economic benefits. Taxes from regulated operations would mean revenue that could be used, among other things, to combat illegal cannabis activities.

There’s already contention on whether the ad hoc committee members listened properly to all sides.

They reported that county residents seem to be split on the issue; and they chose to look at it from an economic development and land-use perspective. They said they believe that neither the benefits nor the negative impacts of commercial cannabis would be as high as some perceive.

There will be stolid opposition, not the least of which will come from Buck Weckman, a county resident who organized and helps run the organization, “Stop Commercial POT,” out of Brownsville.

Weckman took the supervisors to task in a letter to the editor last week for proceeding with an economics study on allowing commercial pot and putting aside personal and community beliefs. He implied that the committee members weren’t just studying commercial cannabis but looking for ways to justify it.

Weckman called for the supervisors to listen to opponents and open up the discussion to all.

We have no doubt that Weckman will remain forever a stalwart opponent; but the supervisors should go to extra pains to allow all voices to be heard on this matter. It’s not just an economic and land use matter ... rightly or wrongly, cannabis has been illegal and held in low esteem for many decades. There’s no sense in putting action off indefinitely, but time should be allowed for plenty of dialogue, no matter how vociferous it’s likely to get. 

Bradford and Leahy recommended moving ahead with the drafting of ordinances, including regulations, zoning locations, licensing caps for outdoor cultivation and more. Among their ideas is a 5 percent gross receipts tax – on cultivation, manufacturing, retail.

Currently the county has an all-out ban on commercial cannabis activities. The next step, whatever it is, isn’t going to happen overnight. Supervisors should rest up for this one.

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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