To the Editor:
I approach the November ballot with optimism.
Grassroots citizens’ initiatives like Measure AF give real people a chance to cut through the political static and solve problems in our communities from the ground up. Yet, opponents will use suspicion to advance their own privilege and special interests, and distract from the fact that Measure AF delivers exactly what the County government has been unable to do.
Dan Hamburg, who recused himself from Board of Supervisors consideration of a cultivation ordinance because of a potential conflict-of-interest, put it nicely when he called the County process "molasses when what we need is greased lightning" in order not to be left in the dust by other producing counties. Hamburg went on to say that what Mendocino County's small farmers need above all else is "regulatory certainty…and they aren't getting it, at least not quickly enough."
The No on AF committee has set out to blockade yet another attempt to make Mendocino County safer through cannabis regulation. We saw this play out only months ago when Hal Wagenet’s Mendocino Blacktail Deer Association sued the County over the temporary 9.31 Urgency Ordinance, prematurely shutting down the program and further perpetuating black market activity.
And then when Mike Sweeney asked the Board of Supervisors NOT to move forward with their own ordinance in a letter submitted to the Board on July 16, 2016: “Why spend the money and time to do CEQA on the proposed ordinance…? But if you go ahead and adopt the proposed ordinance, why should concerned citizens like myself go to the trouble of opposing the 'Mendocino Heritage Act'? Your proposed ordinance is almost as bad.”
Now we see more of the same with Sweeney’s “fear and loathing” based “No on AF” Campaign. They conveniently now have far more faith in our Board of Supervisors and have stopped suing and complaining about the County’s leadership. Instead they are making egregiously false claims about the “Yes on AF” folks while littering the county with their illegal campaign signs.
What a hoax. AF mirrors the state regs with strict environmental protections, adheres to setbacks defined in state law, and much more. Don’t take Sweeney’s word for it. Read it at yesonaf.com.
Sweeney and co. consistently describe the worst possible scenario to trigger fear and suspicion about public safety and fire danger. AF will actually restrict safe, pharmaceutical-grade solvent extraction to permitted facilities in industrial zones -- where it belongs -- significantly decreasing fire risk in our neighborhoods and forests. Measure AF applies more rigorous environmental standards than exist for any other agricultural product in the state -- including wine.
And how about those taxes? Schapmire’s letter is a thin smokescreen to raise suspicion. The County will absolutely be able to collect every dime of the millions in tax revenue from cannabis businesses.
Yes, the Board of Supervisors can amend Measure AF beginning June in 2018, and the likelihood of a lawsuit against AF is way less likely than the CEQA lawsuits that will line up against the Supes’ own draft ordinance, if it ever gets completed.
Luckily, the voters of Mendocino are not so easily fooled by this knee-jerk reaction to progress. Over 4,200 residents signed the petition to get on the ballot, representing thousands more.
AF is not a vote for or against cannabis. It’s a vote on whether or not Mendocino County will rise above prohibition politics to adopt State-compliant regulation, protect local farms and businesses from corporate takeover, and generate millions of dollars in taxes for public safety, roads and mental health services.
Jon Degallier is a Ukiah resident, voting “Yes on AF”