This year our Sonoma County is, once again, heading into drought. We need to take a longer view when making choices that impact our collective resources.
This is why I am disappointed in our county’s new cannabis ordinance, which goes for a one-size-fits-all, let’s-make-it-easier approach. In fact, the revision does not make it easy for anyone. Growers’ needs are not adequately addressed. Residents seeking setback buffer zones of 1000 feet from their homes find their needs are not considered.
The main argument encouraging cannabis production is economic. We do need a strong local economy. But, what do we want that local economy to look like, and what types of agriculture can we rely on to support us? Our food shed bonds our county. What will happen to cropland values if they are based on the current 1.1 million dollars an acre that cannabis yields?
Perhaps it is time to do things in a new way, rather than allowing one type of agriculture to proliferate because it is profitable now. Maybe we didn’t need to flood the market with vineyards, and maybe we don’t need to do it now, with cannabis. We can’t afford a million gallons of water an acre for thirsty cannabis during a prolonged drought.
Let’s encourage our local government to do more intelligent planning around this important land-use issue. Let’s ensure everyone’s resilient future in Sonoma County!