President’s Message: Cannabis is the Word of the Day

By Steve Spanier

The word “cannabis” is on the tongues of many Oakmonters these days. A cannabis dispensary has been proposed for Oakmont’s retail district. A grow operation is “springing up” across Highway 12. The time is right for Oakmont to decide how it feels about cannabis, so this article will describe what’s going on.

The Board is united in its opposition to a cannabis dispensary in Oakmont. We know a few Oakmonters would like to see this business here, but we believe the vast majority of Oakmonters have opinions ranging from neutral to vehemently opposed.

The Board’s fiduciary responsibility is to act in Oakmont’s best interests. If we believed it was in our community’s best interests to have this retail establishment within our borders, we would support it.

However, there are other local cannabis businesses from which Oakmonters can choose. Many of these deliver. Cannabis products are also available over the Internet for those who know what they want and simply want to order their favorite cannabis products through the mail.

The downsides of a cannabis business in Oakmont include increased traffic and a potential for increased crime. The Board believes that, in this case, the cons outweigh the pros. So, the Board is supporting a series of actions designed to stop the business before it gets started.

A petition effort led by two Oakmont residents against the cannabis business began on May 28th. Their goal is to acquire signatures from at least 1,000 Oakmont residents and submit them to the city. To join the effort or sign, call Denise at 707.800.7597.

The Board held an emergency open meeting on May 14th. At this meeting, the board voted to authorize Director Heidi Klyn to represent the Board at the city meeting that evening. Heidi attended the meeting and declared the Board united against application approval.

At our upcoming Board meeting on June 19th, the Directors will discuss and vote on a resolution authorizing funding for a legal opinion on the legality of the proposed dispensary. Cannabis businesses may not be located near hospitals. The proposed dispensary location places it within yards of the memory care facility slated to go in next to the Gardens.

If this facility may officially be classified as a hospital, it would be illegal. We would share this finding with the business owners and the city, which would lower the chance of city approval and threaten litigation should the business begin operations.

The Board is actively encouraging Oakmonters to write emails and letters to the city opposing the business. Hundreds of letters have already been received. An Oakmont website article updated May 18th provides city official names and numbers for those who wish to write or email.

Official approval may be a long way out. Once a formal application is made to the Santa Rosa Planning Commission, future hearings will be held. Studies to address community concerns, such as increased traffic, will likely be required. Any decision by the planning commission can be appealed to the city council. A disputed project can take months — sometimes years — to resolve. So, it appears we have time to pull out all the stops. During this time, Directors and residents will continue attending city meetings.

As for the cannabis grow operation, the Oakmont Community Development Committee has been monitoring the issue and believes there will be little impact on Oakmont. Small grows don’t carry the typical cannabis smell. Plants are very small when sold, so water is not an issue. The OCDC also believes crime should be a non-issue.

The Board is not opposed to cannabis use. One of our Directors is a founding member of Oakmont’s Cannabis Club. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that other Directors use cannabis-based products recreationally or to help with sleep and/or pain management. Research seems to show that cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol, which of course is and has been available at the Oakmont Market for years.

The issue is having a cannabis business in Oakmont. We intend to continue to fight it and invite all interested Oakmont residents to join us.