Stonyford residents wake up each morning and go to sleep each night listening to the loud rumble of generators reverberating through the otherwise quiet community. The 30 or so people who attended the last county-sponsored cannabis workshop on March 22 at the Community Center, said the generators running all night are the tell-tell sign that illegal marijuana traffickers are openly growing mass quantities of weed in greenhouses, which is illegal in Colusa County, despite cannabis becoming legal for recreational use on Jan. 1.
No one at the meeting expressed a desire for the Colusa County Board of Supervisors to modify the county’s existing cannabis ordinance to allow for commercial activities.
Some said a legal industry might bring in a few jobs, but otherwise more negative than positive outcomes would likely result if the county lifted the ban in order to boost their own coffers.
“I don’t want to see them encourage it in this county at all,” said Phil Ray. “It brings in a bad element.”
Stonyford residents said they have long lived with the illegal marijuana trade, but it was nothing like what they’ve seen since the legalization of marijuana for recreational use went into effect nearly three months ago.
For the most part, residents said county officials have ignored the problem, and they don’t think implementing regulations so that Colusa County would get a cut of the money would change anything.
According to the recently released report by the California Growers Association, less than 1 percent of an estimated 68,000 marijuana growers in California were licensed by the state as of Feb. 7, with growers citing the high cost of taxes and regulations as obstacles.
Even the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, in a study last year, estimated that even if more cannabis growers managed to legalize their operations, about 30 percent of all pot sales in the state would still continue through the black market.
“Legal or illegal, it’s still a problem,” said Diana Corkill. “No one is policing it already.”
For Stonyford residents, where illegal activity has gone unchecked, concerns about marijuana production go far beyond the issues raised at the workshops held this past month throughout the county.
While air and water quality, exposure to chemicals, and excessive reliance on fossil fuels were citied as concerns in Stonyford as well as Maxwell and other towns, Stonyford residents say they and their children have become prisoners in their own community as a result of the marijuana trade.
“Our kids can’t go out on their dirt bikes or quads without crossing into a marijuana grow, and these people have guns to protect it,” Joyce Bruckner-Abbott said. “Even if you have legal operations, who is going to police them? Stonyford is a recreational outdoor community, and marijuana is growing all through the hills and up and down the street, and the generators run all night.”
The Stonyford meeting was the last of the seven workshops held for public input.
Those who did not attend can fill out the survey on the county’s website through Wednesday, April 4.
The county’s consultants expect to have a report to the Board of Supervisors by late April, which will be used to help shape the county’s regulatory decision-making process related to commercial cannabis operations. ■