We owe a vote of thanks to the I AM School for alerting us to the City Council’s intention to reduce the safety buffer zone around schools to make room for more cannabis manufacturing facilities. In its good intentions to promote job growth, the City appears to have become inadvertently a proponent of the cannabis industry. On the City of Mount Shasta website, use its search box and enter “cannabis” to see the prominence given the industry.

Strong economic forces drive expansion of the cannabis industry and are brought to bear on the City. An example is a short presentation to the Planning Commission by a potential developer proposing a “Cannabis Industrial Park” of 25 businesses in the undeveloped area within the city limits between Morgan Avenue from Tree House Motel to Ream Avenue. It is unclear what is happening to this proposal. See Mount Shasta Planning Commission 7/17/2018 part 1 http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/116142640 at the 1:33 minute mark.

Medical use of marijuana, legal in California for 20 years, shows much promise. However, we are in a new frontier with adult recreational use of marijuana recently legalized. Much of the adult population uses. Currently licensed cannabis facilities in town are highly regulated and are operated by responsible people trying to make a living and calling this area home. It is highly unlikely these existing cannabis facilities will sell directly to youth. Black market marijuana is available now and present among youth. Parents are already challenged to educate youth about the its dangerous for them.

There is a risk in promoting expansion of the cannabis industry. It produces a product that can be dangerous for youth, especially as products are marketed with higher and higher percentages of THC (the mind-altering element of marijuana). The brains in young people are still developing. The consensus in research shows heavy use in youth can lead to significant loss of IQ that extends into adulthood. Recent research in states that have legalized shows youth’s perceived harmfulness of marijuana declines. Therein lies the problem, as the City promotes cannabis jobs, the number of facilities increases. Youth who no longer perceive marijuana as harmful will find a way to get it. Also, states that have legalized report higher unintended costs associated with adult users, such as police and emergency room costs.

The City’s mission calls for “striking an appropriate balance between economic development and preservation of our quality of life.” A few cannabis industry facilities in our small town seems appropriate. However, shrinking the buffer zones around schools to accommodate more cannabis manufacturing facilities should be, in my opinion, a signal we are going out of balance. Expansion of the cannabis industry in our small town will likely come with higher risks and costs.

You can give the City Council an opportunity to re-balance its perspective by contacting them by email or phone, and by attending the next City Council meeting where this issue will be discussed, evening of April 8.

Whether you are pro or con, here is a small story about the names and labels we use.

Long before the city of Mount Shasta, before it was named Sisson, before Berryvale, native Americans recognized the mountain as a sacred place. Today people from all over the world know of this mountain—it has been called the Himalayas of the West. Many spiritual traditions are attracted to the mountain at the foot of which we dwell. Science or logic may not be able to explain, but no one can deny. The school, though having no connection legally or financially, takes its name from the I AM movement which had its genesis on Mount Shasta. Each of us, whether we use marijuana or not, whether we are religious or not, whether we go to bars or not, has something in common with that name. Our given names are how people address us. When you refer to yourself, you say, “I”. Who is this “I”? Beyond just a coincidence of language pronoun, in the uplifting aspects of all cultures, this “I” is our true self. It’s the “To thine own self be true” self. It’s the “Better Angels” self. Whether we call it spirituality, self-inquiry or being human, we each want to realize and experience the goodness and inner peace of our true self. So, as we deliberate together, may we remember our common name, may we grow and learn together, may we not hate each other, may we each be happy.