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Mount Shasta's Measure L: How would it affect the city's cannabis businesses?

Kelsey Shelton
Mount Shasta Herald
Cannabis plant.

On Nov. 3, Mount Shasta residents will be asked to vote on Measure L, which would further regulate the cannabis industry within city limits.

The measure was drafted by the Keep Cannabis Away from Kids coalition and was placed on the ballot by the city council after the group gathered enough signatures to force them to either adopt the measure or allow voters to decide.

While backers of Measure L say it will protect children and ensure Mount Shasta doesn’t become a “marijuana mecca,” opponents say the measure would create a confusing public process and ultimately decrease city control of the industry.

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If the measure passes, cannabis businesses operating now will be able to stay open, but no others would be able to open until a license holder closes their doors or surrenders or sells their license. 

Tom Scovill, who is heading the KCAfK effort as the coalition’s chairman, said he – like the majority of Californians – voted in favor of Proposition 64 in 2016 which legalized recreational use of marijuana in the state.

Scovill said he felt the proposition did a “decent” job balancing interests of adults who used cannabis while also protecting children from exposure.

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However, Scovill said he feels the city needs more oversight when it comes to access and production of marijuana, especially when children are involved.

“Measure L contains several important provisions to protect the interests of kids and youth in our community,” said Scovill.   

It enforces the 600-foot buffer zone between industrial cannabis businesses and schools, daycares and youth centers. It requires the city to include the entire campus of a school when measuring the applicable buffer zone, Scovill explained, and it “prevents industrial cannabis businesses in residential neighborhoods.”

The measure would add a license cap for industrial cannabis businesses in the city  and calls for the continuance of unannounced inspections at those businesses.

Mount Shasta city planner Juliana Lucchesi said Measure L would add to the city’s current cannabis industry licensing regulations and the cannabis zoning ordinance.

Cannabis Infused gummy candy

“Basically what they’re proposing is to amend those two ordinances to limit – or attempt to limit – industrial cannabis facilities within city limits,” Lucchesi said. She said many of the regulations in Measure L are already required at the state and local levels.

Scovill said Measure L would have no impact on medical or recreational use of cannabis.

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“Concerns about exposing children and youth to cannabis while in school and daycare remains a priority for the community,” Scovill said. “The Measure L campaign has received multiple reports from educators, parents, teens and medical personnel that local youth are increasingly using cannabis, including vaping high-THC concentrate marijuana.”

He said the CDC and FDA warn teens not to smoke or vape cannabis as they can cause lung injury or death. Scovill said the city council has “normalized” cannabis use and said the city has the “highest per capita number of industrial cannabis licenses than any other town in Northern California.”

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“It’s the unclear manner in which Measure L is written and the clear intent of its authors that  is threatening to our business and the local industry as a whole,” said Jefferson Soul CEO Reny Townsend. 

Jefferson Soul has been operating since early 2018 at their facility on North Mount Shasta Boulevard. 

“It is important to note that we have not had a single security issue,” Townsend said.

“The intent of Measure L is to allow its authors the ability to muddle in our licensing processes and ultimately block the renewal of our licenses which are required to be renewed once a year by the city and state,” Townsend said. “The proponents of Measure L have already sued the city over matters that Measure L intends to impose. The State Superior Court ruled in favor of the City of Mt. Shasta and found that the city has correctly upheld the strict state cannabis laws that govern the industry.”

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Opponents believe the city’s current system is working well. Townsend said Jefferson Soul has brought 10 living-wage jobs to the community and plans to add an additional 15 living-wage jobs in 2021 with the completion of a facility planned for Ream Avenue.

Jefferson Soul recently purchased two commercial properties and renovated them with the help of local contractors, architects and engineers. Townsend said the business paid multiple permit and building fees, and has purchased building materials from multiple local businesses.

“While our money is spent locally, our income (90%) is earned from outside of Siskiyou County,” Townsend said. “In addition, we pay local cannabis taxes and permit fees which contribute to our industry being the fifth largest contributor to the city’s general fund. Jefferson Soul is not alone in this either, all the local cannabis businesses contribute to our local economy and job force in a similar manner.”

To learn more about Measure L, visit  www.siskiyouforward.org or www.KeepCannabisAwayFromKids.com.