Drought and cannabis
While county residents mull over the looming water scarcity brought on by two years of drought, our water crisis intensifies with the rollout of commercial cannabis, Napa’s “9111 Report” states cannabis water demand per harvest is six times that of grapes. That fact, added to grape taint, overspray, odor and aesthetics, led Napa county to ban commercial cannabis. Why is Sonoma County so intent on fast-tracking permits, in spite of the obvious drawbacks?
Concerned residents are not alone in their worries. National Marine Fisheries Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California Native Plant Society have all weighed in with additional standards required to address the impacts of opening 65,000 acres for outdoor and hoop house production with a ministerial permitting scheme. A March 17 CDFW letter states “We recommend that the review should be discretionary not ministerial.” State cannabis law set conditions that each project needs individual environmental analysis and cumulative study, both conditions impossible with ministerial permitting.
This is no time to issue permits with limited water analysis. Instead fix the discretionary permitting process and complete careful and adequate environmental studies to satisfy state law, concerned agencies and environmental organizations.
The names of Kaiser Permanente, St. Joseph Health and Sutter Health are prominent on the North Bay Leadership Council’s recent letter to the board of supervisors. The council supports proposed revisions to the cannabis ordinance, apparently drafted by the cannabis industry, that among other things remove health, safety and nuisance protections to neighbors who are exposed to pungent terpene odors. In 2018, Petaluma-area residents successfully sued a cannabis grower for nuisance when odors impinged on their homes. Press reports state the stench caused significant breathing problems for an adult with asthma and a young paraplegic who needs a breathing tube. The cannabis proposal also allows growers to blow plant oil aerosols and oxidizing agents into neighbors’ property. The safety of inhaling these chemicals is untested, and may cause lung damage. Do Kaiser Permanente, St. Joseph Health and Sutter Health truly support extinguishing the rights of sensitive patients who are exposed to air pollution? Do they think that county residents don’t deserve to breath clean air? If the North Bay Leadership Council snookered the health care providers, they should resign from it. Why would health care providers promote the fantasies of large, greedy corporate cannabis enterprises?
Craig S. Harrison