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Sheriff’s Office airs public safety concerns over cannabis industry

Supervisors want Measure C to pay costs of managing compliance.

New concerns about regulating the cannabis industry arose during the San Benito County Board of Supervisors meeting on Nov. 20. A cannabis business activity ordinance covering unincorporated parts of the county is expected to go before the board at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Commercial cannabis permits are divided into six types: cultivation, manufacturing, lab testing, distribution, microbusiness (non-retail) and retail. It sets an age limit of 21 for permit applicants and requires setback distances to residential, industrial and sensitive use zones.

Supervisors were updated on the latest draft on Sept. 25 and the Planning Commission made minor changes to parts of the ordinance on Nov. 14.

Sheriff’s Office Capt. Eric Taylor said at the Nov. 20 supervisors meeting that the department had three concerns regarding public safety.

The first was the plan for funding and the date that funds would be available to help with the oversight of the program, which will require additional staffing. The second was the Sheriff’s Office involvement in the permit process to help “squash” the illegal activity, rather than being a “thorn in the side” of legal operators, according to Taylor.

“If we are familiar with the compliant industry, we’ll be able to quickly identify the non-compliant industry,” he said.  

Third, Taylor said there is no reliable, accurate technology to detect impairment from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as law enforcement looks at ways to deal with possibly having more impaired motorists on the road.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, affects areas of the brain that control body movement, balance, coordination, memory and judgment. After use, cannabis can remain (inactive) in a user’s system for weeks, depending on the amount and frequency of consumption.

Hollister Fire Department Fire Marshall Charlie Bedolla said he supported Taylor’s concerns regarding hiring additional staff to regulate and enforce cannabis businesses.

“It’s a full-time job for me trying to regulate and to make sure these facilities are safe for the employees and the public,” Bedolla said, later adding that local agencies have formed a team to conduct inspections together instead of individually.  Members include building, planning, environmental health, fire and police officials.

The are no cannabis facility codes in California, Bedolla said, so the Hollister Fire Department is utilizing the model developed by the city of Denver, CO.

County voters approved Measure C in the June 6 primary election to create a tax on cannabis businesses. Revenues raised by Measure C can, according to the measure, be put toward cannabis-related law enforcement and other expenditures “per the board’s discretion.” Supervisor Mark Medina said he will push to use funds from Measure C accordingly.

Based on Taylor’s and Bedolla’s comments, Supervisor Jaime de La Cruz said he could foresee pressure on County Administrative Officer Ray Espinosa to “ramp up” staffing. De La Cruz said he did not want to use general fund money to fill the positions.

“I will not support you coming to the Board of Supervisors in the near future and asking us to fund staffing levels with general fund until we know that there’s going to be money available and money is going to come in,” De La Cruz told Espinosa.

Supervisors voted 4-1 to continue the ordinance to the Dec. 11 meeting for adoption. Supervisor Jerry Muenzer was the sole "no" vote, though he did not give a reason why. He did not comment nor raise a question during the items’ discussion. Muenzer has not responded to request for comment on his vote.

 

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About:
Noe Magaña (Noe Magaña)

Noe Magaña is a freelance writer for BenitoLink. He also experiments with videography and photography. A San Benito High School graduate with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He also was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily.

Comments

Submitted by (Allen Barker) on

If we truly had a free press in this country, it would be common knowledge that: Cannabis continues to be classified as a schedule 1 drug (ahead of Cocaine)  under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The irony and hypocrisy is that while the government (under schedule 1) says that it is highly addictive and there is no medical use for it, the Government holds multiple patents for medicinal components of it. It should also be common knowledge that the THC is only activated by heating it, and that the plant can be consumed in its raw form without the psycho-active effects, and with a plethora of positive health benefits. The Endo-cannabinoid system (and it's benefits) has been studied for approximately 30 years, with studies published on Pub Med at the rate of 1 every other day since the late 80's - early 90's. It would also be common knowledge that Cannabis has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and it became part of the American pharmacopia in the 1850's. It was pushed out of common use by Government & Big Pharma in the late 1930's to make room for more profitable drugs. It is inevitable that the truth of it's health benefits will (and are) coming out, but the way it is being rolled out, it is becoming "Big Weed". It simply would not do to have it be common knowledge that you can grow it for free in your back yard, eat it in salads, juice it, & get amazing health benefits, without the highs, without paying the high cost of the Big Pharma drugs that have side effects, which gives them a customer for life. 

From what I have read about cannabis and my own personal experience, the opinion expressed includes fact and fallacy. When expressing opinions based on fact, in this case, it would be wise to cite literary references upon which the opinion is based.

The most egregious claim expressed in this commentary is: "It should also be common knowledge that the THC is only activated by heating it, and that the plant can be consumed in its raw form without the psycho-active effects, and with a plethora of positive health benefits." That assertion is completely false and dangerously irresponsible. Please provide a reference from a trustworthy and fact-based, peer-reviewed scientifically accurate resource. 

We do have a free press in the United States, and BenitoLink is an example of a responsible, community-based online digital multimedia forum where community members may express their respective opinions about local issues, including responsible views regarding local government's public policy positions on cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, distribution and wholesale/retail dispensing of cannabis products for medicinal and recreational use, similar in many ways to alcohol products and prescription pharmaceuticals. 

It is unwise and unhelpful to cannabis advocacy to opine with untrue statements which are not based on scientific fact, historical/sociological accuracy and which may be potentially harmful to the public. 

 

 

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