I support cannabis growing that follows the rules and doesn't endanger creeks, wildlife or neighbors. I'm a Peace in Medicine patient; CBD-rich cannabis improves my health. But two new cannabis farms crossed the line.
Lari, my farmer neighbor in the Blucher Creek Watershed near Sebastopol, emailed me Aug. 7 to inform me that a new neighbor bulldozed a large area to construct huge cannabis-growing buildings. We immediately visited the site—now a disaster to those dependent on water, including endangered California freshwater shrimp, wildlife and vegetation.
"What we saw was jaw-dropping," wrote Lari. "Land cleared, topsoil pushed into the creek. They filled the tributary, so needed for flood protection. A 100-foot-long building appeared, which three days prior was a virgin field. Three more large building sites were cleared and the topsoil pushed into the riparian zone. Miles of plastic, chemical barrels, piles of fertilizer and marijuana plants arrived."
The grower had no permits. We reported this violation to various government officials and agencies, including supervisors David Rabbitt and Lynda Hopkins. They responded promptly and effectively. "Illegal grows are a huge concern, environmentally and socially," wrote Supervisor Hopkins to a neighbor. "Unfortunately, they give the folks doing the right thing a bad name," she added.
Representatives from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Board, Sonoma County's Permit and Resources Management, Supervisor Rabbitt's office and our Bloomfield/Lone Pine/Cunningham Neighborhood Association members met at Lari's farm. Government officials shut the grow down.
The new owner then put the land up for sale. We reminded his agent that a full disclosure was necessary. He took the "For Sale" sign down. Another neighbor identified an un-permitted grow on nearby Schaeffer Road, which we also managed to shut down.
Dear cannabis growers: please follow the rules, which not only benefit you financially, but also the environment and neighbors. We're watching you carefully. We are willing to assist others to shut down illegal grows.
Shepherd Bliss (firstname.lastname@example.org) has farmed the Sebastopol countryside for 24 years and recently retired from college teaching.
Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write email@example.com.