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December 22 Supervisor Meeting Preparation

Hello CCA Supporters,

We had good attendance at last night’s meeting, and we need to bring you up to speed on what is happening in the next week.

The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors (BOS) is due to meet on Tuesday, December 22nd for a study session on a new cannabis ordinance. During this session, the BOS will be hearing public comment and giving direction to county council on the ordinance they would like drafted. While we believe that the intention of the BOS is to draft a sensible policy, it is a fact that they will be considering a ban of outdoor cultivation.

Having a high turnout from our side for this is EXTREMELY important. There are still County Supervisors who think that there are only about 50 of us in the county. They need to know that in reality, we represent what may very well be the largest voting block in the county, and as such are constituents who deserve active representation.

Also, the opposition is better organized than they have ever been. While their arguments aren’t reasonable, they carry emotional weight that can be persuasive. They will be there in high numbers.

The direction given to county council by the BOS at this meeting will set the trajectory of all future policy in the county. Although the drafting of an ordinance itself will take place over the course of a few months, the founding principals of this ordinance will be decided at the meeting on the 22nd.

CPR successfully fought off no less than four attempts by the opposition to ban outdoor cultivation. The issue has come before the Board several times. However, we now have new state laws that have clearly defined the role of county government in regards to their ability to draft cannabis policy, and local control is now more incentivized than ever. The BOS is entirely able to ban outdoor cultivation, and do so in a manner that will be unchallengeable in court.

This is not business as usual. There are many people in our community who have been cultivating cannabis long before it became safe to do so. CCA is concerned that many people may have a false sense of security due to the fact that they have been successful at growing even under adverse circumstances, and that this has caused them to believe that they will be able to continue to get away with cultivating even if the county passes a ban. The problem with this thinking is that the new state laws include full funding for a robust eradication program of non-compliant grows. The penalties are not criminal; they consist of extremely heavy fines that include mechanisms for land confiscation. The bottom line is this: anyone hoping to keep our industry alive for the long term needs to participate.

Here is what we are going to be dealing with at the meeting, followed by some of our planned strategies.

As hard as it is to believe, the primary complaint that Board members deal with every season is odor. We know how unreasonable that sounds- but when you think about it, it kind of makes sense; it is the only issue that the opposition can present as a FACT. Cannabis DOES smell. Compared to most other arguments used by the opposition (which are most often based on fear and prejudices and are easily refutable with facts and statistics), the smell issue is much more difficult to address. Nobody can deny that flowering plants emit an odor.

For this amongst other reasons, the BOS will be considering a ban on outdoor cultivation. It’s not because they want to shut down our industry; they don’t. It’s because they don’t understand how cannabis is cultivated, and the idea of simply moving cultivation indoors seems like a perfect solution that will please everyone; the growers get to keep cultivating, and the complaints about smells stop flooding in every October.

Our mission on Tuesday is to educate the BOS about the vast difference between indoor and outdoor operations. We need cultivators to respectfully explain to the BOS that asking Calaveras cultivators to move their farms indoors is like asking Watsonville to start producing all of their artichokes hydroponically; it simply can’t be done. There is no difference between banning outdoor cultivation and simply banning all cultivation, because outdoor farmers cannot financially make this transition. Simply put, a ban on outdoor cultivation will wipe out our industry.

Our first strategy is to SHOW UP IN NUMBERS. Here is the deal on that.

There is a lobby just outside of the BOS chambers that will hold a few dozen people. These people will be able to stay warm but will be unable to hear the proceedings. In the past, many of the people who were unable to get a seat left the proceedings after the first few minutes. We would like to change that. We are asking that EVERYONE STAY FOR THE FULL HEARING, regardless of whether they are seated, in the lobby, or standing outside in the cold. There will be at least one CCA coordinator who will be attempting to make sure that those outside the chambers who wish to speak are heard, and we are definitely going to keep the Board informed about how many supporters are outside and unable to fit into the chamber room.

Come prepared. These meetings can run for hours. We know the weather is terrible. We know it’s freezing. We will do our best to give priority to the older folks and make the young’uns brave the elements. We know we are asking a lot. But ask yourself if you want to be growing cannabis in Calaveras in 2016, and if the privilege of doing so is worth a day in the cold.

Now, on to other strategies.

If you have any kind of positive personal relationship with business owners or their employees who benefit from cannabis cultivation, please talk to them about attending this meeting. The argument this time is an economic one. As passionate we may be about cannabis as a medicine, patients’ rights, or safe access and all that jazz, those sentiments are NOT what is going to win the day. Bringing the BOS around to the understanding that cannabis cultivation is the backbone of the Calaveras economy is what matters. We need business people coming in to talk about that fact. When you approach your business person, it is important to make it clear to them that they do NOT need to endorse cannabis- that isn’t important. What’s important is that they convey to the Board that cannabis cultivation has helped the economy.

Next, here is just a partial list of the organizations that we have donated significant amounts of money to over the last five years: The Animal Shelter, The Senior Center, The Valley Springs Youth Center, Harmony Ranch, The Blue Mountain Coalition for Youth and Families, Friends of the Calaveras Sheriff, The Mountain Ranch Youth Alliance, The Mountain Ranch Community Club, The Mountain Ranch Food Bank, Rail Road Flat Community School, Calaveras High School Scholarship Fund, Bret Harte High School Scholarship Fund, Cooper’s Corral, Calaveras County Veteran’s Court Program, Calaveras County Yellow Dot Program for Seniors… that’s just a few. Read that list again, and ask yourself if you know ANYBODY who works for these groups or benefits from their services. And ask them to come and thank the cultivators for giving back to the community.

Next, here is the contact information for every Supervisor in Calaveras County.

Cliff Edson cedson@co.calaveras.ca.us Includes the communities Circle XX, San Andreas, Valley Springs, Campo Seco, La Contenta, Commanche, Burson and Wallace.

Chris Wright cwright@co.calaveras.ca.us Includes the communities of Mokelumne Hill, Paloma, West Point, Wilseyville, Glencoe/Rail Road Flat, Sheep Ranch, Mountain Ranch, and Calaveritas.

Michael Oliviera mcoliveira@co.calaveras.ca.us Includes the communities of Douglas Flat, Murphys, Brice Station, Forest Meadows, Hathaway Pines, Avery, Arnold, White Pines, Dorrington, Camp Connell, Cottage Springs, Skyhigh, Tamarack, Sherman Acres and part of Vallecito.

Debbie Ponte dponte@co.calaveras.ca.us Includes the communities of Angels Camp, Altaville, Salt Spring Valley and Copperopolis.

Steve Kearney swkearney@co.calaveras.ca.us Includes the communities of Milton, Jenny Lind and Rancho Calaveras.

Contact the supervisors and let them know how important outdoor cultivation is to you and to the community. It doesn’t matter if the Supervisor is in your district or not, they need to hear from you.

There is one message in particular that may help us immensely if we can get the Supervisors to hear it. Time is of the essence at these hearings, and we need them to keep people on topic. The topic is cannabis cultivation policy in Calaveras County. The topic IS NOT whether cannabis is a good thing or a bad thing. If at all possible, we need to avoid refighting Prop 215 at this hearing. The Supervisors need to understand that this meeting is not the place to debate the merits of cannabis, which was legalized 20 years ago. Our county has already decided they are going to allow cannabis cultivation and that they are going to allow storefronts- that ship sailed long ago. The only debate is what the rules are going to be for cultivation. It is the Board’s job, primarily that of the Board Chair Cliff Edson, to keep people on topic. This goes for our side too. As was already mentioned, this is not the time for cannabis advocates to talk about the medicinal value of cannabis, how much it has helped their grandparents, etc. The focus is on cultivation policy that makes sense for Calaveras County. When you write to the Board members, this is a topic well worth mentioning.

Now, here are the rules about communicating with Supervisors, whether it be verbal or written.

All of your communications should be based on the assumption that the Supervisor is on our side and wants to craft a sensible ordinance. If you approach a Supervisor with an underlying assumption that they are anti-cannabis and are just looking for an excuse to screw us over, it hurts our case (it’s also just not true.) There are some within our movement who have difficulty dealing with authority, resent what they see as unnecessary regulation, have a deep-seeded distrust of government, etc. If that describes you, and you are unable to put those feelings aside when communicating, we still need you to show up at gametime- but we don’t need you to communicate those feelings to the Board. We need you to be there for the industry.

When speaking to the BOS, remember this valuable tool: It is always okay to SAY how you are feeling, but it’s not helpful to SHOW how you are feeling. Example; it is okay to verbally express how frustrating it is to be defending cultivation rights after 20 years of legalization. It is NOT okay to LOOK frustrated, or to have an angry tone when speaking.

Finally, this. When the opposition speaks, they are going to say ridiculous, hurtful and laughable things. We must NOT react. Laughing, booing, snorting, whatever- it’s not okay. Our strength lays in our knowledge and our reliance on the truth, coupled with our ability to express those things in a respectful and understandable manner. We lose credibility when we allow the unfounded claims and fears of the opposition rattle us. Remember; the truth is on our side, and if we show up with our “A” game, the BOS will understand that and will make the best decision for the county.

Okay, that’s about it. Show up for gametime. Participate. Remember, the vast majority of elections in this county are decided by less than 300 votes. The BOS are elected officials. This group now has the power to decide elections. With the exception of seniors, we are the largest voting bloc in the county. This thing is ours to lose.

-CCAStart your post here...

 

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Calaveras Cannabis Alliance
P.O. Box 1238
San Andreas, CA 95249

 

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