Meeting Time: October 04, 2022 at 9:00am PDT

Agenda Item

4f) Discussion and Possible Action Including Direction to Staff to Limit Cannabis Equity Program(s) to Legitimate Governmental Purposes, Including Environmental Remediation, Encouragement of Regulatory Compliance, Mitigation of Negative Impacts of Existing Industry and Void Any Program Elements Found to be Impermissible Under Federal Law (Sponsor: Supervisor Williams)

   Oppose     Neutral     Support    
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    Six Nguyen 2 months ago

    I fully support this Hannah Nelson's memo. The system has been set up to disenfranchise operators, Hannah Nelson's notes help realign the fairness and necessity from the appeals process.

    Best,
    Six Nguyen
    Endo Industries

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    Todd Cass 2 months ago

    Honorable Supervisors, I am persuaded by the arguments made by Hannah Nelson, with whom I have worked directly, that this item is half baked and ill-conceived. I found her comments enlightening and entertaining. Please consider this carefully.

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    Jim Roberts 2 months ago

    Honorable Supervisors,

    I strongly oppose any item that will further restrict access to state funds that have been set aside for equity operators in our local communities that will help them navigate and continue to function in an extremely challenging environment. Further restriction will mean the loss of farms, businesses and community members who desperately need these funds to continue through an onerous set of regulations and criteria set forth by the state and local governments. We need to stop moving the goal post here and do everything possible locally to create better access to funds and support for our local farms and businesses. I have recently been nominated and approved by the governors office to sit on the Entrepreneurship and Economic Mobility Task Force. As one of the 34 members of this working group, one of our focuses will be the democratizing access to capital and making sure grant programs such as this are reaching those who were intended to be helped.

    ~Jim Roberts
    The Madrones & The Brambles
    The Bohemian Chemist

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    Laura Clein 2 months ago

    Dear Supervisors,

    The goal is to normalize cannabis in our County & the equity money is earmarked to help farmers transition to the new regulatory framework. We cannot imagine at this point why anyone would bring Federal enforcement up as a reason to further jeopardize the equity program, or for that matter, the entire cannabis program. Hannah Nelson’s memo lays out our concerns well. We are accepted equity applicants who have turned in our grant budget & are still awaiting our funding, which has caused us setbacks in mandatory work that needs to be done on our farm. We were one of the early permitted farms & we have always been up to date with our fees & taxes. But it is worth mentioning we have felt very fortunate to receive the recent waivers for fees & taxes. It has helped us at a time we need it more than ever. But more importantly, we hope to obtain the grant monies promised asap & get to work on the LSA, upgraded buildings & other items on our list. Please vote NO on this item.

    Thank you, Laura & Marty Clein

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    Jennifer Procacci 2 months ago

    I support the memos submitted by MCA and Hannah Nelson in regards to this agenda item. Please make the Equity Grant Program viable as it could provide desperately needed relief to struggling small cannabis farmers. Thank you for your consideration.

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    Alexander Cummings 2 months ago

    Dear Supervisors,

    I am writing in opposition to this agenda item, and in support of the memos summited by MCA and by Hannah Nelson. Please support small businesses in Mendocino county by working to ensure the success of the grant programs available.

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    Kevin Bush 2 months ago

    We oppose limiting disbursement of funds to eligible social equity licensees. However, we support the recommendations as outlined by the attached memo from Attorney Hannah Nelson.

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    Marnie Birger 2 months ago

    I support the recommendations from Hannah Nelson and MCA regarding 4f for the 10/4/22 BOS meeting.
    Thank you,
    Marnie Birger
    District 3 resident

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    Monique Ramirez 2 months ago

    Dear Supervisors,
    I support all the memos written by both MCA and Hannah Nelson regarding this agenda item. I will speak more to this item in public comment but would like to state here for the record that it makes no sense to strip away most of the important components to the Equity Grant program. Small businesses need all the support they can get to continue to weather these uncertain market trends. Most farms are unable to sell their products in bulk, even those that are to scale and certainly no small cottage gardener like myself can stand to sell their cannabis for $200-$300 per lb when they produce 80-100lbs per year. Doing the math you see this is not viable. And because farmers are not ready to just give up, we adapt and try to pivot our business models. Which is why the majority of farmers I know are beginning to realize the only way they can stay in business is to sell their flower in retail ready packaging. And that is a HUGE expense!!! We are talking about thousands and thousands of dollars to purchase needed child resistant packaging materials. With the Equity grant allowances in the manual right now, farms are able to offset these enormous fees with direct grant funding. This is just one example of an item that would not be allowed to be funded if this agenda item moves forward with 3 supervisor votes. I will state my other reasons tomorrow during public comment why no one should be voting in favor of limiting these funds to a few items, many of which are already covered by the LJAGP funding. Please I urge the board to please adopt the Ad Hoc recommendations instead! Do not derail this program at the 11th hour when applicants have been waiting for nearly 2 years for checks to be issued.
    Thank you,
    Monique Ramirez

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    Mary Aigner 2 months ago

    Honorable Supervisors,
    We are writing in opposition to agenda item 4f. We have been in the grant process for 13 months now and have had to expend scarce financial resources to pay for liability insurance to maintain our grant eligibility and to cover farm expenses for this year that we expected would be alleviated by the execution of our grant project. Despite having had our grant approved 10 months ago, the funds have yet to be disbursed. We based our ability to stay in business and farm this year on the state equity grant. Any further changes and restrictions to the direct grant program will only delay this process even more, to the detriment of the many equity cannabis farmers who are trying to survive and remain in business. There is no reason for the county to restrict the equity program beyond what is allowable by the state. Please reject this proposal.
    Mary Aigner & Hue Freeman
    Hungry Hollow Enterprises

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    david silverstone 2 months ago

    as you must be aware this is the most difficult year ever faced by the local cannabis industry. we have lost all but one distributor working for the small farmers and the prices have caused all our budgets and purse strings to be tightened to the point of breaking and starving. not to mention the real estate values that have plummeted making all our farms worthless and costing us all our life long investments. leaving us nowhere to go or turn to.
    many may become homeless and destitute due to the choices this county has made.
    this most recent threat by the county for the last 40/originally 700 legacy farmers to provide redundant forms to a non functional portal is the last nail in the coffin for many of us. i know of others who in the same boat as me cannot and are unable to comply with this inane and impossible feat presented by our local cannabis department during the peak of harvest while low prices create a deficit of budgetary ability to comply even if it were possible.
    i hope the county is prepared to loose the last of its legacy growers and look fools in the eyes of the media whom our stories have and continue to be told to. this will only be fuel for the fires and draw the attention of the state legislators whose directions have been ignored by our cannabis departments.
    there are many like me who have been approved for the funds set aside by the state who still wait apparently in vain for a check that has been promised yet never arrives. this ordeal has gone on for over 14 months now and appears to have no end in sight. yet the department has added funds to its payrolls and enforcement systems and continues to receive their checks week after week as well wait and suffer.
    I truly hope you will share this letter with the other board supervisors as i do not have their email addresses and that you will share this message on camera during the meeting tomorrow. as i will be sending it to the local media in hopes that something is done to prevent this tragedy in the form of the violation of the public’s wishes and desires for a cannabis industry made up of its legacy parties and with support of the systems in place.
    withdraw the demands and threats placed on us and restore justice to this most imperfect set of regulations ever seen in agricultural history.

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    Matt Maguire 2 months ago

    Dear Honorable Supervisors

    I do not support this Agenda Item.

    The Equity Program was designed to reduce the barriers of entry to cannabis licensing, to help people disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, operate in the legal cannabis space.
    Mendocino County has participated in the War on drugs for decades. I live in Laytonville. I have lived within 5 miles (and closer) to police raids every year for the past 40 years, this might not be the same for residents of other areas of the county, and possibly difficult to understand the impact.
    The Commet Program has a big history of raids in this county, many of them small farms.
    Until recently Mendocino County hosted a Training Program with the DEA every year, during this training program the DEA would bring departments from all over the USA to Learn how to spot Cannabis plants, circling homesteads with helicopters and planes and participating in raids on Mendocino county residents.
    Applying Federal Government rules to the Equity Program seems to be attempting to continue the local war on cannabis.
    Limiting the equity program beyond state guidelines has created many roadblocks, ultimately slowing down payment to eligible equity applicants. There have been numerous suggestions from stakeholders and the Cannabis Ad Hoc, to align the equity program with the allowable uses under the state guidelines.

    Please listen to all the suggestions you have received from the community, and vote no on this agenda item.

    Thanks

    Matt Maguire

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    Josh Artman 2 months ago

    Please don't further limit equity funds expenditures, we need more freedom not more restrictions. There are a variety of mission critical budget line items these funds could be used for such as land payments that are imperative for staying in business. Building more infrastructure that I have to identify on a line item a year in advance isn't as helpful as it could be if these monies were more available and flexible for everyday business expenditures. I concur with Hannah Nelson's memo and strongly oppose this agenda item.
    Bluenose Botanicals CEO Josh Artman

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    Jesse Hutchins 2 months ago

    Your excellence, please consider my thoughts:
    I am the owner of Hydro Pacific Garden supply and I support the MCA. My sales are down -60% which in turn means the counties tax we pay are also down -60%. I know multiple soil companies that are down -95% which in turn, directly affects you also. By the equity funds going to where they were intended to go, the farmer, they in turn will stay afloat and spend that money locally, which will result in the tax dollars coming back to you. The local legal growers have jumped through all the hoops and that has left them financially devastated.

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    Michael Katz 2 months ago

    Honorable Supervisors,

    MCA fully supports the memo from Hannah Nelson on this agenda item and urges the Board to strongly consider her well founded points. The Equity Program is a lifeline for licensed cannabis operators in Mendocino County who have been victims of the failed War on Drugs, and the Board has spent the last year or more appropriately expanding grant uses in line with State guidelines. To go backwards at this point would not only create additional delays in rolling out the funds, but also be counter to the goals of thjs State program, which was intentionally broad as to be of the most use possible to those deemed eligible.

    Sincerely,

    Mendocino Cannabis Alliance
    e: info@mendocannabis.com

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    Scott WARD 2 months ago

    I do not support this item. The lack of any data on how this will work within the existing grant process. In my opinion there is a lack of infornation regarding this item so that the Board can discuss and vote with substantive understanding.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Scott Ward

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    Krishan Knoles 2 months ago

    Equity programs are socially responsible ways to financially support individuals and their businesses.
    The county already receives, via taxation, money for regulation, compliance and remediation.
    The whole cannabis industry in this county is on the edge of a financial precipice.
    Without the direct financial support offered by programs such as equity, there may not be much of an industry left to tax.
    Support the farmers.
    I oppose this agenda item.

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    Hannah Nelson 2 months ago

    Please see attached memo From Hannah Nelson on item 4f

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    Jed Davis 2 months ago

    My name is Jed Davis from Potter Valley,
    I strongly oppose this agenda item!! The BOS has directed the Cannabis Department to make be as flexible as possible with the Equity Grant Program so that the money provided by the state can make its way to the cannabiis businesses in our county . This grant money is extremely important in keeping these business operating which is doubly important for our small community in which cannabis has been a main economic driver given the current slumping status of the cannabis industry as a whole. Any restriction on the use of funds from what has already been directed by the BOS will severely impact small operators in this county negatively

    Any fear of Federal reprisal that the County may have for issuing funds to cannabis related purposes should be completely alleviated due to the rider on federal budget prohibiting Federal spending on investigating cases against situations that are in full compliance with state law.

    This agenda item would go back on the County's word on many aspect with the Equity Grant and cause just about everyone reconfigure their grant requests. Something that the individuals have already spent hundreds of hours trying to navigate through a constantly changing landscape. Approving this item would considerably dry up the grant money that is just beginning to flow into the county and deal a death blow to many struggling cannabis businesses in the county.