On Dec. 12, the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted for a 45-day urgency interim ban on all commercial cannabis activity, which became legal in the state of California on Jan. 1. The reason it was called an urgency ordinance was because the county is in the process of developing ordinances to regulate this activity, but is not yet ready to implement them until the county cannabis working group finishes the first phases of recommendations in the next few months.
California has strict laws about urgency ordinances because they can be passed quickly without the full public review process, so they require a 4/5ths vote. The urgency ordinance can expire automatically in 45 days; or can be extended another 10½ months, then expire automatically; or can be extended one final year and can never be brought back again as an urgency ordinance.
Before each expiration, the board can renew with a 4/5ths vote. At any point during the ban, the board can choose to end the ban and replace it with a regulatory ordinance that doesn’t automatically expire.
If the board lets the interim ban expire, then it cannot be brought back at a later date as an urgency ordinance.
On Jan. 23, Supervisors Bob Berkowitz and Roger Gitlin voted to let the interim ban expire, killing it forever but with no regulation in place.
Most citizens of Del Norte County and the cannabis industry itself, know there must be some regulation and local control of the cannabis industry or it will dominate the economy in ways that are destructive to any community. Given that fact, the county is now forced to put in place a new ban ordinance to replace the one that Berkowitz and Gitlin eliminated. This leaves the county with no cannabis specific regulation until the full process of a ban ordinance or a regulation ordinance can be completed.
These two supervisors have made no acknowledgement of the progress made by the county working group and they are now attempting to solely blame the other three supervisors of failing to act sooner, when they must all share the blame.
When the replacement ban is put into place temporarily, they may falsely accuse those up for re-election of trying to ignore the will of the people, when in truth they are trying to complete the process in a legally functional way that fits Del Norte county as a whole.
There is no such thing as a permanent ban, everything can be changed.
This can be viewed as politically motivated because the two supervisors who are up for re-election this year (Chris Howard and Gerry Hemmingsen) often don’t align with Berkowitz and Gitlin on other issues. Berkowitz and Gitlin are not up for re-election, so they are safe from the voters unless there is a recall.
These two supervisors (Berkowitz and Gitlin) claim to be accelerating the process by forcing action. This unfocused force is only causing more division, stifling progress and cooperation. The cannabis issue appears to be made a pawn, to get rid of political adversaries in an election year.
Cannabis is not a pawn. She is a queen — very powerful and must be respected. Please educate yourself as much as you can and vote carefully this year, all our futures are at stake.
Thank you all from the Del Norte Growers Association.
Jesse Davis chairs the Del Norte County Cannabis Working Group. Members were appointed by Del Norte County supervisors.