Williams City Council OKs criminal history checks for cannabis employees

Last Wednesday, the Williams City Council followed through on a promise to its citizens by unanimously approving a resolution that authorizes the Williams Police Department to access criminal history information for all owners, managers, supervisors, employees, volunteers, and contract employees associated with cannabis businesses in the city.

“With the upcoming cannabis businesses that are expected here in Williams, the law allows us to run criminal history checks on every employee that works in the facility,” Williams Police Chief Ed Anderson explained to the council. “This resolution… will allow the Police Department to basically access those criminal history records. Without this resolution, the law won’t allow us to check those peoples’ criminal history.”

Under the current state regulations for commercial recreational cannabis, people who hold state-issued licenses undergo a background check with state regulatory authorities, City Administrator Frank Kennedy said. That isn’t the case for the employees, however, which was the onus for the city resolution.

“We have told the community that we will be checking the background on everybody working there,” Kennedy said. “All 1,200 or so employees who are in that facility will come to us to check them.”

Kennedy added that the city would have to develop a fee schedule for the background checks, and that the Williams Police Department may have to buy its own “Live Scan” fingerprinting machine moving forward. Williams Police Chief Ed Anderson said that he was looking into the cost of bringing such a machine to his department. Currently, the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office is the only agency in the county that has one.

“There will be a tremendous volume of people,” Kennedy said. “They have 1,200 employees when they’re at full build-out, coming and going employees – we’re going to be real busy checking those. So we’re going to need the ability to do that and streamline our operations.”

He added that the city would also need to work out what sort of criminal history would preclude an individual from being employed in the cannabis industry in Williams, as well as an appeal process for people who have undergone the background process and been denied. In addition to establishing the criteria for the background process, Kennedy said additional staff may be needed to facilitate the background checks.

“Whatever fees are generated would help with those costs,” Kennedy said. “The Police Department still has a frozen position, and we’d probably like to unfreeze that, which would help with some of those issues.”

Kennedy added that there was an additional administrative position at the police department that could be unfrozen as well.

“We’d like to unfreeze that in preparation for Canna-Hub,” Kennedy said. “If we’re gonna do everything we can to protect the community and make sure this is done right, we have to have personnel to ensure that happens.”■

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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