Soapbox

Marijuana is fine for city of Sacramento, not county

Dar Azimi tends to marijuana plants in a retrofitted shipping container in Sacramento. Azimi and his father own Ohana Gardens Collective, part of a new wave of weed businesses ready to cash in on California’s approval of recreational pot.
Dar Azimi tends to marijuana plants in a retrofitted shipping container in Sacramento. Azimi and his father own Ohana Gardens Collective, part of a new wave of weed businesses ready to cash in on California’s approval of recreational pot. aseng@sacbee.com

Sacramento Councilman Jay Schenirer’s approach to recreational marijuana regulation (“Marijuana regulation is most responsible course for Sacramento,” Viewpoints, Dec. 3) may be fine for the city of Sacramento, but it is infeasible for the rest of the county.

Schenirer advocates strong regulation and high taxation of marijuana in the city, where urbanization and compact development facilitate the monitoring of marijuana businesses and grows.

This is the wrong approach for Sacramento County. Vast swaths of the unincorporated area are rural or agricultural. In the 4th Supervisorial District, heavily affected by the deleterious effects of marijuana cultivation and sales, a majority of voters opposed Proposition 64, which legalized the drug in California. Voters in Folsom, Elk Grove, Galt and the county’s agricultural communities also rejected Proposition 64.

In 2014, the Board of Supervisors acted unanimously to ban outdoor marijuana cultivation. This action targeted the negative impacts: extensive use of illegal herbicides and pesticides; water waste and contamination; threats to endangered species; and serious public safety dangers. Actively monitoring marijuana grows over hundreds of square miles in remote areas is impossible, while the street value of marijuana – particularly when illegally shipped to other states – continues as a magnet for crime.

The county also bans the sale of marijuana. A few years ago, the county spent months closing down more than 100 illegal marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated area. Residents of these communities had justifiable concerns about the adverse impacts of these businesses.

Some people compare marijuana to alcohol, but alcohol is tightly controlled by both the state and federal governments. The alcohol content and ingredients must meet certain standards, all of which must be clearly printed on bottles, along with warning labels.

While the city of Sacramento can regulate location, hours of operation, security and the street-level appearance of marijuana businesses, local government has no ability to regulate where and how the drug is grown, its THC content, or other ingredients that may be in these products. Consumer safety is a serious concern.

Proponents of decriminalization continue to perpetuate an urban myth about marijuana-related incarceration. Just ask Sheriff Scott Jones or District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert: Not a single person is in the Sacramento County Jail or in state prison for simple possession or use of marijuana.

I strongly encourage the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors to maintain its current ordinances. County residents can obtain marijuana in cities that choose to allow these businesses. The county is not going to enter the homes of law-abiding people to see what they are smoking or eating. But what may be acceptable in the city of Sacramento will harm the quality of life in rural Sacramento County.

Roberta MacGlashan is a supervisor for Sacramento County’s District 4. She can be reached at MacglashanR@saccounty.net.

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