City council members vote 4-3 to form a cannabis committee

Nate Rettinger

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Opinions clashed at the recent city council meeting where members moved to form a cannabis committee.

City council members came together to vote on a proposed cannabis committee on Tuesday night at Chico City Hall. This committee would oversee the integration of the cannabis industry into Chico as a legitimate business option. The council voted 4 to 3 to form the committee.

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Individuals in the back of the city council chambers hold signs calling for a safer Chico. Believing the real issues of safety and violence were not being addressed, they went to protest “the inappropriate agenda” of the Tuesday meeting. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

The committee would focus on four elements of cannabis business that state regulations don’t cover. The committee would be responsible for addressing these problems how they see fit.

These elements include:

What types of businesses should the committee allow?

Where would the businesses be allowed to operate?

How many of each type of business would be allowed?

What will the requirements be for the businesses that decide to open in Chico?

The Internal Affairs Committee, which deals with matters of legislation and annexations, recommended to include certain members of the community, such as a member of law enforcement, an expert of the cannabis industry, a Chico State representative and a legal representative. The council amended that a member knowledgeable of the housing market should also be on the committee.

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Vice Mayor Alex Brown was a vocal council member in favor of creating a cannabis committee and it’s legalization in Chico. Regulating cannabis was one of the key issues in Brown’s campaign for city council in 2018. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Derrick Sanderson, a real estate agent for Keller Williams Realty, spoke on the effects the cannabis industry would have on housing market.

Sanderson cited a study put out by the National Association of Realtors that said 33 percent of members of the Association found difficulty reselling a home that was used as a grow house.

“If, as a city council, you are wanting to increase housing…we should look at, in the ordinance, ways that we can address this issue [lack of housing],” Sanderson said.

Michael Curry, a student at Chico State majoring in political science, felt disappointed by the direction the council took in legalizing cannabis locally.

“I am concerned about the council promoting something that may have federal ramifications,” Curry said.

There is yet to be a federal law that allows for the use of recreational cannabis, but there are 10 states so far that have passed legislation where it is legal, California being one of them.

The federal punishments include up to five years in prison for possession of less than a 110 lb mixture on the first offense, and up to 10 years for a second offense.

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Kimberly Craven stands in the back of the council chambers with others holding posters talking about safety. Craven is a member of the group, Chico Moms on a Mission. “We’re going to be here till they hear us,” Craven said. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Jessica MacKenzie, a Chico resident, expressed her frustration in the amount of time it has taken for any action to be agreed upon in bringing the cannabis industry into Chico.

“I am grateful that the council moved something forward,” Mackenzie said. “I think they continue to dilute the motion in ways that are not necessary.”

Council member Sean Morgan said that finding a smart and sensible way for cannabis in Chico was “oxymoronic.” Morgan was staunchly against the committee, and at one point got in an argument with Council member Karl Ory about the matter. Council memeber Kasey Reynolds also pointed out that out of the 26 audience speakers that came the the meeting, only six were in support of the cannabis committee.

The meeting left many grumbling on the actions of the council because of either the speed of the decision or the decision itself.

Nate Rettinger can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @NRettinger19.

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