First reading of cannabis ordinance may draw large crowd

Skye Kinkade

Mount Shasta City Council will hold its first reading for changes in an ordinance to regulate the cannabis industry at its meeting this Monday, April 8 starting at 5:30 p.m.

Because it is such a contentious issue, the meeting will be held at the Mount Shasta Community Building, 629 Alder Street, which is larger than the regular venue at the Mount Shasta City Park. At the March 11 council meeting, when the topic was last discussed, more than 200 people attended.

Originally approved by the Mount Shasta City Council in October of 2017, the ordinance is being adjusted to reduce the buffer zone around schools to 450 feet for businesses involved in the wholesale manufacturing of cannabis-related products with no public access.

These changes were approved by a 3-1 vote on March 11, with councilors John Redmond, Jeffrey Collings and mayor Barbara Wagner approving and councilmember John Stackfleth in opposition.

Councilor Paul Engstrom recused himself because he was involved in a prior real estate transaction related to the I AM School on Siskiyou Avenue, which is at the center of the dispute alongside Jefferson Soul, which runs a cultivation business on N. Mt. Shasta Boulevard and has purchased an 8,400-square-foot commercial building at 1119 Ream Avenue to expand its operations. The building in question is 530 feet from the school in an area zoned for industrial use, a shortfall of 70 feet.

Scores of people who oppose marijuana on moral grounds, those who believe it is dangerous for children and those who worry about Mount Shasta too closely embracing the marijuana industry have protested the adjustment to allow Jefferson Soul to expand its business.

Wagner, who cast one of the three deciding votes on March 11, said the she believes the changes offer “a compromise” and that due process was followed in making the decision.

Wagner said she is working to protect everyone while keeping the interests of the community in mind. She pointed out that there is bias on both sides of this argument, but added that in past years, voters both statewide and locally have made their acceptance of cannabis-related industries known.

In 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana for adults, 57.1% to 42.9%. In Siskiyou County, the vote was 52% for Prop. 64 and 48% against.

Breaking that down even further, Prop. 64 passed in the City of Mount Shasta with 62 percent of the 2,210 voters at that time in approval.

In November 2017, Measure S Cannabis Retail Tax passed with 73% for and 27% against. Wagner pointed out Measure S needed 2/3 voter approval to pass.

Wagner said she believes businesses have a right to expand in a free market, and the city’s role is to reduce barriers for thriving businesses, she said, adding that she is speaking for herself, and not the council as a whole.

Wagner made the following points about changes in the ordinance:

• It maintains a five-license cap for cultivation, food-based, and nonvolatile businesses.

• It caps nursery operations at five licenses. This is a new proposal, and nurseries are currently unlimited.

• Maintains a 600-foot buffer around all schools, daycares, and youth centers for storefront cannabis retailer, cultivation, nursery uses, and all facilities with public access.

• Reduces the sensitive use buffer around all schools, daycares, and youth centers to 450 feet for cannabis food-based production, nonvolatile manufacturing, and distribution uses with no public access. This is a new proposal as the current buffer is 600 feet.

• The buffer zone was decreased from 600 feet to 450 feet for industry practices that do not produce odors. Odors were stated as a major concern of the opponents. These odors can result in a nuisance. Therefore, the 600-foot buffer was maintained for those odor-producing industry practices, such as cultivation.

The agenda

The agenda for the April 8 Mount Shasta City Council meeting can be found on the city’s website by Thursday evening at