Trinity County Board of Supervisors
Supervisor, District 3
How do you perceive the marijuana growing industry?
Is that the single way you would define it?
Well, it has lots of ramifications and it has been developing quite rapidly in this county. Mainly because we don’t have enough law enforcement to deal with it. I would feel the same way if it were bank robbers, or people who came here to mug people, or rob them, or do home invasions–it’s illegal.
What is your impression of the marijuana growing community in Trinity County?
Well, I think it’s, number one, not a community. That term in my mind gives it a homogenous look, (suggesting) that this is a group of people all doing the same thing; that cooperate together. And it’s very complex; there are a lot of different reasons that people are growing marijuana. So I can’t really look at them as a community. Even though they would like—some of them would like– you to look at it that way. But I don’t think that’s possible.
How do you perceive your responsibility to the marijuana growing population?
My opinion, my belief on that, and the way I move forward with that, is that it really doesn’t make any difference to me whatsoever whether they’re my constituents, my neighbors, or my friends… if they’re in violation of the law or county codes they need to come into compliance. Now, given that statement, we obviously at this point in time don’t have the manpower to enforce (county code on) all the absurd grows that are going on, that are a huge problem for the county. So if we have people and they’re growing ten plants and they’re only supposed to have four, and they’re not bothering their neighbor, I don’t see that as a huge deal.
But in the sense that a very large portion of the population is growing, or at least affiliated, does that change your sense of where your responsibilities lie?
No. My responsibilities are to do what’s best for the county. And the marijuana industry is very, very detrimental to this county. It’s running it bankrupt.
Do you think marijuana growers are aware of their impacts on the community?
It depends on what growers we’re talking about. I think the big ones don’t care, so they aren’t thinking about it. They’re in and out, they don’t live here, they have no buy-in to this community or county. I would say they (large-scale non-resident growers) don’t because they don’t think about it. I would say larger growers who are residents, they probably think about it because they are talking with other people who have been residents for a long time. Whether they take their role seriously enough to not make the kind of money they can make is another story.
What are the positive impacts of marijuana growing on the community?
What are the negative impacts of the marijuana growing on the community?
I think the big part of the industry here is really shooting itself in the foot by turning their neighbors against them. The economic impacts are huge, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that. All these people that come here to grow–and even people who have lived here a long time who are growing—most all the properties are unimproved properties, and property taxes are based on improvements of property. You have a whole lot of people who are using properties in the county that are undeveloped, and are paying essentially nothing in property tax, but they are using county services. Our citizens get really annoyed because they are not getting the level of services they are paying for. There are about 12,000 people who are paying taxes on improved properties for county services, but services are being provided for maybe another 5,000 people. You can’t service an additional 5,000 people on the amount of staff that you have.
What do you think of recent efforts on the part of community members to engage with you directly and participate in the development of their own regulatory system?
What I know is that I went through the exact same thing, same message different spokesperson, when I was on the Planning Commission. We had a more local group at every one of our meetings. (They) were there and it was really ‘our hearts are out for the people who need this medicine’ etc. etc., and we had all the regular people there who are going ‘no way, no way we want this out of our neighborhood, we don’t want this crap in our neighborhood.’ The interesting part is that those people who were trying to use the medical marijuana smokescreen… as time went by, there were some of them who got arrested. Hard drugs in their vehicles, on and on and on … and it was just a sham.
There is a large portion of the population who are involved in the marijuana growing industry, and have a stake in the outcome, and they are making efforts to have a say-so in what that looks like, do you believe any of that is valid?
Well, it’s common sense. If I wanted to do something that I knew a lot of the population didn’t want, and that the government didn’t want, and that was illegal, I’d band together with them and promote (it) in a way that makes it look like it’s wonderful.
Supposing that some of the issue is that it’s a large portion of the population (that’s involved) and it’s their current economic livelihood and that’s their investment… do you see any validity to it?
How come? Because it’s illegal?
Well that’s part of it yeah. It’s illegal. And they’re stepping all over the rights of other people who have rights to enjoy their property and enjoy happiness, living where they’re living. And besides, you know these people (marijuana growers), they don’t pay state income tax and they don’t pay federal income tax either. So the money they get is free, and we don’t see those federal monies coming back either.
But people who are coming forward take part in the (development of a) regulatory process, part of what they’re doing is to weigh in on an appropriate way to tax, so they are trying to make that step.
To talk to that issue, the way the code reads right now for marijuana, regulations aren’t going to make any difference. If the max you can grow is 8 plants, regulation won’t make any difference.
Do you see it as the long-term goal of the County to maintain that 8 plant standard?
I would like very much to send (an existing draft) marijuana ordinance back to the Planning Commission and have it reworked some. It allowed for up to 99 plants in a grow, the person who had that could not have any other properties that grew marijuana, it had to be on 30 or more acres, they had to have a legal residence. And housing for transient workers. I think the personal grow, in my mind, will stand the way it is, and the planning community will look at the aggregate grow and find areas where its appropriate to do that. That to me makes sense, although those types of grows will certainly need to be monitored.