A mass of public comments on both sides of the topic were recorded, with the line to speak stretching from the podium to the back of the room. For the most part, discussion was civil, although Mayor Barbara Wagner reminded the crowd several times that applause can create conflict and that zoning was the topic, not necessarily the moral issue of cannabis and its use.

The Mount Shasta City Council moved forward with the first reading of an ordinance that adjusts the buffer zone around some cannabis businesses from 600 feet to 450 feet at its well attended meeting Monday evening.

A mass of public comments on both sides of the topic were recorded, with the line to speak stretching from the podium to the back of the room. For the most part, discussion was civil, although Mayor Barbara Wagner reminded the crowd several times that applause can create conflict and that zoning was the topic, not necessarily the moral issue of cannabis and its use.

Many in the audience wore yellow stickers on their shirts to indicate their opposition to changing the buffer zone, including representatives of the I AM School, which would be the school most immediately affected by the zoning change.

Jefferson Soul, which runs a cultivation business on South Mt. Shasta Boulevard, has purchased an 8,400-square foot building at 1119 Ream Avenue to expand its operations. The building is 530 feet from the I Am School in an area zoned for industrial use, prompting the city to consider reducing the buffer zone so they may expand their operation.

“I want this buffer to keep our school a safe and worry free environment,” stated one student during public comment. Another said she had been bullied during previous meetings when she spoke out against cannabis.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey also spoke out against the proposed ordinance, saying he was in favor of keeping the 600 foot buffer.

While there were many public speakers who opposed changes to the ordinance, there were those who supported the growth of cannabis industry and the benefits it can offer the community, including job creation.

Over the course of the meeting, Mayor Pro-Tem John Stackfleth made several motions to modify the proposed ordinance, although they received little or no support from Wagner or councilors John Redmond and Jeffrey Collings. City councilor Paul Engstrom was not present at the meeting, but had recused himself earlier as he was involved with the real estate transaction when I AM originally purchased the building on Ream Avenue.

In one motion, Stackfleth proposed placing cannabis zoning on the next available ballot to allow voters to have their say. Though his motion received no council support, it caused a reaction amongst some in the crowd, many of whom had requested this as an option.

Stackfleth also made a motion that the proposed 450 foot buffer zone be moved back to the original 600 feet, but this motion also failed.

After more than an hour and a half of public comment, the council began addressing questions and concerns brought forward by the crowd.

Many commenters said they feel Mount Shasta is attempting to re-create itself as a “marijuana Mecca,” with cannabis-based businesses and manufacturers saturating the local market.

City Planner Julianna Lucchesi said there are 20 cannabis-related business permits available. “Of the 14 purchased, there are seven permitted, five in operation, two with extensions to build from the ground up, and one retailer that is not fully operational.”

Another permit had been revoked, she said.

Lucchesi’s statement brought foward another motion from Stackfleth.

This motion, which was the only one that garnered any support from other council members, was a proposal to limit the number of permits from 25 to 20 permanently.

Collings seconded this motion but it died there.

Some public commenters said the I AM School should have been aware that cannabis businesses were a possibility in their neighborhood, since the area is a “soft industrial zone,” which includes businesses like auto shops and car dealerships, which can lead to an increase in foot traffic.

There were also mentions of the medical aspect of non-THC dominant cannabis products, such as CBD. These products can assist those who have constant or debilitating seizures, as well as those who are battling cancer.

Representatives from Jefferson Soul were also present at the meeting. Ben Gardner said he enjoys these types of discussions when it comes to cannabis and the neighborhoods.

“No one has directly complained to me about the buffer or the smell, but they have complained to the council,” he said.

Gardner also said Jefferson Soul is transparent in its business dealings and has not sent out any mailers or advertisements on the topic and does not plan to.

The city council will hold its second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting on April 22.