Oroville residents chime in on commercial cannabis la gasolina cancion


The council voted 5-2 in February to hire SCI Consulting Group for $40,000 to prepare tax and fee proposals and provide the aforementioned services. Mayor Linda Dahlmeier and councilor Scott Thomson voted against the motion and said they were in favor of allowing residents to vote on it instead.

Representatives for the firm got a mixed bag of opinions at the forum in the Municipal Auditorium on Thursday. While there was a fair amount of opposition — the first speaker was a representative for Rep. Doug LaMalfa who reminded everyone this would be against federal law — discussion over the hot button topic was civil and went without disruption.

The next step will be for the firm to establish a stakeholders group, consisting of representatives from backgrounds like law enforcement, finance, planning, schools, churches and businesses. Some attendees suggested local leaders in other fields, such as rehabilitation and health care, which Neil Hall, business initiative leader for SCI Consulting Group, said after the meeting would be taken into consideration.

Next, community members were offered three minutes each at the microphone. Tom Lando, interim city administrator, said the meeting was intended to be informational and invited the public to email the city with positions in favor or in opposition of allowing commercial cannabis activity.

Hall said the purpose was not to impose but to find regulations that would suit Oroville well. He acknowledged there was nearly a 50/50 split in Oroville on Proposition 64, which legalized the adult recreational use of cannabis in California when approved by voters in 2016.

Hall said he had witnessed the influence that regulation of cities has had on their bordering municipalities, which are starting to allow cannabis activity in some places and getting competitive with tax rates. Oroville could be the first city to allow it in Butte County.

Hall then asked the audience to indicate if they were interested in working in different areas of the industry. At least a few raised their hands for each category, with the most interest appearing to be in retail, which Hall said was typical.

Laura Page with the office of Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, said the information presented by the consultant was “very biased” and the local voting results on Proposition 64 were not representative of the community’s opinion on allowing cannabis sales and cultivation in its own backyard.

Bobby O’Reilly said this all seemed to be up to the council, not the community, since the council voted in February to hire a consultant rather than putting it to voters. O’Reilly also asked how the city would be able to deposit revenue deriving from cannabis — going against federal law — and if Oroville might lose out on grant funding as a result.

David Pittman, a former Oroville city councilor, said he was concerned about youths getting easier access to marijuana products and other unintended consequences like businesses leaving the city. Pittman said he also felt the presentation was biased and that he would like to know more about black market prices, to see if the city could even compete with them.

Anasuya Basil, a health care professional in Chico, said the way she viewed cannabis changed when she started asking questions. She realized many of her patients used marijuana and her colleagues said the benefits warranted further study. Basil said it “doesn’t seem fair” to send people to Oakland to get access to licensed cannabis products.

Jessica MacKenzie, a local advocate of cannabis regulation, said cannabis is already here and the point is to gain some control, not increase the market. An all-out ban on activity — the current law of the land — stimulates bad behavior, she said.