Guest column: Cannabis referendum bad for South Lake Tahoe (opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Guest column: Cannabis referendum bad for South Lake Tahoe (opinion)

Fellow South Lake Tahoe residents, if you signed the petition to suspend the city's cannabis ordinance, you may have been deceived.

If you haven't yet added your signature, know that doing so may be against your own self-interest.

Should Mr. Bass (DBA Tahoe Wellness Cooperative) and his financiers succeed in repealing our cannabis ordinance (#1118), over the next year our community stands to lose:

100+ brand-new well-paying jobs

In excess of $1 million in development agreement community benefits paid directly to our city's General Fund

New licensee contributions to local nonprofits as part of the city's process, including funding for senior services, animal shelters, drug misuse and abuse prevention and education programs, warm rooms, school lunches, school resource officers and

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Funding for additional law enforcement resources

$10 million or more in new spending as visitors and residents purchase adult use and medical cannabis in Reno, Carson City, Incline, Placerville or Sacramento instead of South Lake Tahoe.

The Facts:

Much of the information being provided to convince people to sign this petition is misleading or inaccurate. Contrary to what the signature collectors are saying, Mr. Bass would not be shut down. South Lake Tahoe's cannabis ordinance #1118 specifically grandfathers and protects Tahoe Wellness Cooperative.

What Mr. Bass, the executive director of Tahoe Wellness Cooperative, is trying to do by circulating this petition is to kill competition, eliminate new jobs and preserve his cannabis monopoly in our town.

If ordinance #1118 is suspended or repealed, Mr. Bass will be the most immediate beneficiary, as this will effectively prevent any new cannabis businesses from starting in our town for the foreseeable future.

Many of the signature collectors are stating that unless the ordinance is suspended, access to medical cannabis will be limited or eliminated and that the city is forcing Mr. Bass to close. Neither of these statements is accurate.

Under the new ordinance, cannabis access will be expanded. Licensees will be required to hold both Adult Use and Medical licenses. A complete South Lake Tahoe cannabis ecosystem consisting of multiple business types will support a broader selection of professionally cultivated and manufactured local product.

Multiple quality dispensaries will have storefronts and delivery services offering both medical and adult use cannabis. The new ordinance introduces a healthy level of local competition and will promote a greater selection and lower prices.

The signature collectors also are stating that only big-money corporate monopolies would be able to operate here and that the ordinance and development agreements will make cannabis more expensive. None of these statements is true.

The co-authors of this op-ed live and work here. We are locals! Many of us are actively preparing to submit our applications to the city. Not one of us is part of a large corporation or an industrial cannabis monopoly. Although we are competing among ourselves for a limited number of permits, we believe the process will be handled fairly and that each of us has the opportunity to deliver a winning application.

While the signature collectors and Mr. Bass have vilified the development agreement process, you should know that development agreements are commonly used and, in the case of this ordinance, provide significant advantages for companies with local ownership and companies with a solid commitment to local hires with above-market wages and benefits.

While the new ordinance does not automatically convert Mr. Bass's permit from medical to medical and adult use, nothing prevents Mr. Bass from applying for an adult use permit to expand his current business. But rather than compete with everyone else, Mr. Bass, who is also running for City Council (and who has also been indicted on multiple counts of felony tax evasion), is putting his own interests above those of our community.

New jobs for residents, new clients for service providers and millions of dollars in new tourist spending injected into our economy will be put on hold indefinitely by the suspension or repeal of ordinance #1118.

If you now believe you signed this petition in error or did so as the result of receiving misleading statements from signature collectors, it is possible to revoke your signature under El Dorado County Law: 103 E.C. Signature withdrawn from petition.

Any voter who has signed an initiative, referendum or recall petition pursuant to the Constitution or laws of this state shall have his or her signature withdrawn from the petition upon filing a written request therefore with the appropriate county elections official or city elections official prior to the day the petition is filed.

Withdrawing your signature is easy. Simply send an email to sblankenship@cityofslt.us with: "Please Revoke my Signature" in the subject line and your full name and residential address in the body of the message. Requests for signature removal must be received by the clerk prior to the signatures being filed.

If you feel you were intentionally misled by a signature collector, consider notifying our interim city attorney, Sergio Rudin via email: srudin@bwslaw.com. Refusing to allow people to read the petition before signing as well as providing inaccurate, misleading or false information is a criminal misdemeanor under El Dorado County election code #18600. Signature collectors are deceiving you and breaking the law!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, please spread the word NOT TO SIGN THIS PETITION. In a small town like ours, even a few signatures make a difference.

The city's new cannabis ordinance will benefit South Lake Tahoe and grandfather the existing medical dispensary, while suspending it only benefits Cody Bass and Tahoe Wellness Cooperative.

Sincerely,

Your fellow South Lake Tahoe community members

Benjamin Mytelka, Kevin McHugh, Robert Fehskens, Stephanie Casteel, Chris Ziegler, Molly McGee, Kelsi Boyd, Oliver Starr, Thanya Starr, Jana Manard