After careful scrutiny of Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, The Nevada County Cannabis Alliance encourages voters who are affected by this issue to vote No on Prop 64.
In addition to a thorough analysis of Prop 64, a survey of our members revealed that 83 percent of respondents are opposed to it. Our membership is made up of small cannabis farmers, businesses, manufacturers, distributors and patients.
Regardless of how you feel about Prop 64 and the corporatization of cannabis, this ballot initiative helped start an important dialogue and one that will help communities throughout California define how they will move forward with Cannabis cultivation laws. Farmers and legal cannabis business owners are beginning to see the need to change, participate in their local politics and create organizations that can consolidate local political buy-in to realize exactly what they want the future of their farms and their communities to look like.
These are some of the key points The Alliance’s opposition is based on:
- Corporate Takeover:
Prop 64’s ‘five year delay’ for the Type 5 license is an empty protection; there is nothing that prevents businesses from immediately acquiring multiple Type 3 (1 acre canopy) licenses to achieve the same purpose. Small farmers, with limited resources, will have a hard time navigating the new regulations while mega-grows established by investor groups can afford legal teams, compliance consultants, and negotiate with suppliers to undercut small farmers. Nevada County takes pride in producing some of the best cannabis in Northern California. And that only takes place because of the carefully thought out best management practices most of our cultivators use. There is already more cannabis being produced in California than can be distributed to dispensaries. We believe it is time to focus on making sure existing cultivators and medical cannabis businesses are legitimized. It is imperative that the regulations focus on transitioning the tens of thousands of existing small farmers, and provide a viable opportunity to successfully participate in the market.
- Monopolization and Vertical Integration:
Prop 64 will remove MCRSA’s restrictions on cross-licensure that were established to protect small cannabis entities and maintain market segmentation. Prop 64 allows for full-scale, unrestricted vertical integration by well-capitalized corporate entities. This is how monopolies are born. Vertical integration allows for a single entity to control the entire supply chain cutting costs on one level and making it up at another; for instance driving the cost of production down to eradicate competition at the cultivation level, while charging more at the retail level to cover the costs. We believe that small California farmers won’t be able to compete in a such a marketplace.
- Lack of Accountability:
Prop 64 is a ballot initiative funded by billionaire Sean Parker, the creator of Napster and former Facebook president. The campaign has spent more than $11 million. New Approach PAC, started by Progressive insurance mogul Peter Lewis; is also a major funder. Others that have contributed to the initiative are the advocacy group Drug Policy Action, which receives funding from billionaire George Soros; and Irvine-based Weedmaps. Unlike elected officials who run for office and are subject to recall and term limits, proponents like Parker and the New Approach PAC could end up acting on behalf of their measures indefinitely, with no political accountability. There is no political process because initiative proponents are not subject to the same ethical obligations and disclosure requirements as candidates. There are no public records available that can help the media or voters gather information about the integrity or qualifications of these proponents.
- Changing a Voter Initiative:
Another major argument revolves around 60-plus pages of legislation codified by a popular election. Propositions typically range from a paragraph to several pages of general language that provide a mandate and guidance as to how it should look. This is followed by detailed regulations developed by legislators that more specifically determine how it will be implemented. The reason for this is that a voter approved proposition can only be changed by another popular election or by a supermajority of the legislation. If the details are written by legislators they can be changed by a regular vote of the legislation, if they are mandated by the election then they are virtually impossible to change. Prop 64 allows for two of its 13 sections to be changed by a regular vote, all other changes would need to be changed by another popular election or a supermajority of the legislation. With 60+ pages of language we have to hope that this proposition is bullet proof, that it will withstand the rapidly shifting landscape of the industry and of the times.
- The Industrialization of Cannabis:
Just like Big Ag, Big Cannabis will have significant impacts on the environment. Any monocrop planted on our land has severe environmental consequences when not managed properly. When farming operations are sustainably managed, they can help preserve and restore critical habitats, protect watersheds, and improve soil health and water quality. But when practiced without care, farming at large scales presents the greatest threat to species and ecosystems. Prop 64 will remove MCRSA’s cap on the Type 3 licenses, which allows for grows with a maximum of one acre of canopy area. Type 5 licenses allows any size grow to operate in California. Imagine football fields upon football fields of cannabis growing in place of natural habitat, or other crops needed for a sustainable food and cannabis economy. Anyone who has grown cannabis knows the amount of care and the profound relationship that farmers have with their crop. At an industrial level, it is simply not possible to maintain the level of quality that California patients deserve for their health and the environment.
Many of our cultivators in Nevada County oppose Prop 64 because it threatens the heritage cannabis farmer who traditionally utilizes a back-to-earth and organic approach to farming. By paving the way for a corporate takeover, local well-paying jobs will be lost and family farms will be buried under hundreds of acres of row crops that require extensive pesticide use, heavy watering and a degradation of product quality.
As growers we’re excited to pioneer a different industry than we’ve seen before, one that supports small family farms, a robust middle class and local communities, that push for organic standards, incorporates regenerative farming practices that heal the land rather than devastates it. Please help us maintain the quality of life we enjoy in Nevada County by voting NO on Prop 64.