Supes plan to narrow focus, engage community before deciding on future of commercial cannabis in county

The Colusa County Board of Supervisors reiterated last week that they will take the slow, measured approach to potentially opening the county’s doors to the commercial cannabis industry and laid out a plan for moving forward: The board directed county staff to narrow their focus to a number of potential cannabis licensing types that they consider to be most appropriate for Colusa County, and said that they will not make any decisions until they have adequately  engaged their constituents.

“I won’t do any of this without the community engagement and outreach,” said Supervisor Kim Vann. “I know it’s not always on us to make sure that people are participating, but I think this issue is important enough to double- and triple-check, to make sure people are participating in these communities.”

Rather than taking a project-specific approach, the board will be narrowing their focus on specific licensing types.

“I think the project-specific approach, where people come to us and pitch their project, would be a very easy way to do it,” Supervisor Kent Boes said. “At the same time, I don’t necessarily project driving the bus. I want to make our own regulations and to say, ‘You fit our regulations, (so) we’ll entertain your project.’”

While the supervisors said they wouldn’t rule out any specific licensing type in perpetuum, the board directed staff to take a closer look at four commercial cannabis license types: nursery, manufacturing, testing, distribution, and indoor cultivation. Boes described those license types as the “least impactful (and) easiest to deal with.” For now, at least, the county will not be looking into allowing outdoor cultivation or dispensaries.

“I just want to make it clear that just by this list, we are in no way supporting any of these things,” Supervisor Kim Vann said. “Just so we’re clear, I’m saying that we narrow down this list and take it out to the community to have a discussion.”

Supervisor Gary Evans added that a pared-down list of license types would make it easier to make a presentation to the community.

“That’s just my thought on it: Pare it down, and make it a little more digestible,” Evans said.

Whether any of the license types on the pared-down list will ultimately be allowed in the county, and how the county will regulate them, will depend on the response from the community during a series of yet-to-be announced community outreach meetings. Evans suggested hiring a third party to conduct the outreach meetings.

Boes echoed Vann’s and Evans’ comments about community outreach, and took that a step further.

“I would go so far as to say that after we have a public outreach with the community, I’d be willing to pony up some of my personal funds to retain a survey company to do phone calls, and get some really good data on what the feeling countywide is, among our constituents” Boes said. “I know we’ve got some decent data from the election, but since the passing of Prop 64 last year, I know a lot of voters that have not so much changed their opinion, but have accepted the fact that we’re in California, and now that it’s legal, there’s certain things we have to do to deal with that. Opinions are morphing, so to speak.”

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net