It was mostly peace and love with a couple of nods to rock and roll Tuesday in Live Oak at the first ever meeting of the C4 – aka the The Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choice Committee.
The Commissioners only official action of the day came when they quickly agreed to meet each Tuesday morning beginning Sept 22 until at least November probably at the Simpkins Center at 9:30 am.
In a narrow meeting room at the Live Oak Senior Center, at a long “L” shaped table, 13 Commissioners appointed by the Board of Supervisors; a county clerk and two hired consultants were seated. In front of each was a large binder full of hundreds of pages of documents. A half dozen county management staff including the CAO and a deputy county counsel were in attendance and Another dozen or more members of the public were seated or stood at one end of the room.
In addition to one representative from each County district and three at large appointees, five organized local interest groups are represented: The Cannabis Advocates Alliance (CAA), The Association for Standardized Cannabis (ASC), Responsible Cultivation Santa Cruz (RCSC), The Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance (SCVA) and Santa Cruz Mountains for Sustainable Cannabis Medicine (SCM2)
After brief introductions, instructions from County Administrative Officer Susan Pearlman, and a discussion of the Brown Act led by a Deputy County Counsel, the event began with an invitation for public comment to which a very few voices expressed short statements.
Aptos attorney Eric Olsen, a former Washington DC area resident with experience in both public and private sectors in policy development and advocacy, was hired by the County to facilitate. He took the floor and presented a short slideshow as a “Context for Conversation”.
(Olsen had previously met individually with many of the commissioners. He wrote The Cannabis Chronicles, v.1 and had it posted on the Commission’s website http://scc4.us/ In it he says of the commission, “…it will be essential for all of us to build trust, mutuality, and empathy with each other if we are going to be successful.”)
He began his power point with a list of aspirations:
- How can we become a model for the state and nation?
- What are our shared Santa Cruz values, vision and brand we want to guide our choices?
- What do we want our new narrative to be?
and included a list of stakeholders:
- Our environment
- Our youth and community health
- Fire and emergency service
- Law enforcement
- Government regulators/policy
- Medical cannabis users
- Medical cannabis growers
- Dispensary owners
- Other related industries
- The incarcerated
and concluded with these questions:
- What current policies and industry practices do we want to conserve?
- What do we want to say “no” to?
- What do we need to know to develop effective regulation?
- What risks do we address and how?
- What are the carrots and sticks toward compliance?
The full slide show can be found here;
Olsen then invited commissioners to spend time brainstorming on shared Santa Cruz values, vision and brand. One by one, top of mind words and phrases made their way via colored felt pens onto a wall of poster sheets. Most of the usual Santa Cruz virtues and vices were offered along with anecdotes in support or defense.
(The entirety of the list will likely be transcribed and become part of the public record.)
It was an interesting glimpse into both the formed opinions and thoughtfulness that the group was obviously prepared to make over the next few months.
In response to one commissioner’s mention of the “permissive drug culture” several members offered examples of how cannabis use in the County has had positive impacts like contributing to innovation or tolerance. One spoke about how his young children were aware that their grandmother was using Cannabis in her fight with cancer and how that was informing their view.
After a break for lunch the group reconvened and agreed to meet once a week. They then engaged in another exercise where in pairs or threes they rotated around the room to five “stakeholder” slides where they listed core questions and issues related to each.
The five groups of stakeholders were:
- Youth and Community Safety
- Government Regulations
- Law Enforcement and Emergency Response
- Cannabis Supply Chain
After the commissioners finished with this, there was some discussion and additions to each area. Some public input occurred during this process but the room had to be vacated by 2pm and the meeting was adjourned.
The next meeting is scheduled for Sept 22.