Greenfield residents voice concerns over cannabis facilities


GREENFIELD — Last week Greenfield City Council passed three resolutions and held first readings of two ordinances pertaining to medical cannabis facilities. The June 27 meeting attracted about 100 members of the community, many of whom took to the podium to voice concerns. 

By a 3-2 vote, the three resolutions passed as did the first readings of the two ordinances, which the council will consider adopting at its July meeting. Mayor Pro-Tem Avelina Torres and council members Leah Santibañez and Yanely Martinez voted in favor of the resolutions and moving the ordinances to a second reading, while Mayor Jesus Olvera-Garcia and council member Lance Walker voted against the resolutions and first-readings of the ordinances.

According to Community Services Director Mic Steinmann, under medical cannabis ordinance, “Regulatory permits are required before any medical cannabis operation can begin business. It also requires development agreements and conditional use permits be approved by the City Council prior to operation.” 

Steinmann advised the council that after approval of regulatory permits for the cultivation and manufacturing of medical cannabis, the council needed to take a series of steps before the cannabis facilities could begin operation.

One of those first steps was the approval of a resolution based on an initial environmental study. Although the study found that the cannabis projects could pose “potentially significant effects on the environment,” measures could be taken by the facilities to avoid them. The resolution also called for the establishment of a monitoring and reporting program to ensure that the cannabis facilities comply with the conditions set. 

Terri Whistler Adam, of the EMC Planning Group, which prepared the initial environmental report, responded to Mayor Olvera-Garcia’s inquiries about the “data on air, ground and water effects.”

Adam stated, “All of the impacts or potential impacts can be mitigated to less than (a) significant level with the implementation of mitigation measures.” Four potentially adverse impacts and the steps that the cannabis facilities could take to reduce their environmental footprint were identified. The impacts pertain to air quality; biological resources, such as nesting birds and bats; greenhouse gas emissions; and hazardous materials, such as asbestos and lead.

During public comments, several members of the public voiced concerns over environmental impacts and other issues. Laura asked, “How is that we all of a sudden have water for the marijuana plants, but not to water our gardens?” She also questioned why the council had approved so many cannabis facilities. Rafael, a 12-year resident, also questioned why he was not permitted to water his fruit trees, but there was enough water for the marijuana plants. Elvira said, “Because of marijuana, all my grandchildren have been hurt.”

Among those asking the council to support the resolutions and ordinances before them was Aaron Johnson, who spoke on behalf of the medical cannabis facility applicants. Referring to the City’s General Plan, Johnson told the council, “These issues (the negative environmental impacts) have been addressed.” 

“We work together to make things better for the city of Greenfield,” Johnson said.

Salvatore Palma, of Greenfield Organix, updated the council on the number of job applications they had received, over 300. 

The council also approved a resolution allowing the issuance of conditional permits for the development and operation of 10 medical cannabis facilities: Canna Culture at 802 El Camino Real; East of Eden at 60 Fourth St.; Emerald Mission at 801 El Camino Real; Golden State Alternative Care at 721 and 799 El Camino Real; Greenfield Organix at 1071 Cherry Ave.; Greenfield Organix at 36, 46 and 48 Fourth St.; Kool Gildea at 600 Cypress Ave.; Paper Plan Traders at 851 El Camino Real; Redhunt at 710 El Camino Real; and Zen Brand at 689 and 701 El Camino Real. 

At its Feb. 28 meeting, the council had approved the issuance of regulatory permits allowing for the dispensary, cultivation and manufacturing of medical cannabis facilities.

Having approved issuance of conditional permits for the development and operation of the 10 above cited cannabis facilities, at its July meeting the council will conduct a second reading of an ordinance to approve development agreements for the development and operation of the facilities. 

A third resolution adopted was the approval of a Vesting Tentative Map for the subdivision of property located at 1071 Cherry Ave. The property is to be divided in to several parcels, and each could be sold to a different cannabis facility.

Steinmann assured Torres that all cannabis facilities must meet the same requirements before being allowed to operate.   

Moved forward to a second reading was an ordinance to add regulatory permit requirements for medical cannabis testing, distribution and transportation facilities. The council will consider its adoption at its July meeting.

Visit the City’s website at ci.greenfield.ca.us to view council meetings via live stream and access the agendas and minutes in their entirety.