Cannabis Tourism?

Residents catch Press Democrat “depriving readers” of facts on cannabis tourism article. This letter was sent to the PD for comment.

To the Editor:

The August 23 article in the Press Democrat about cannabis tourism (Blooming Tourism for Cannabis Faces Hurdles) contains some glaring omissions which deprive readers of the ability to consider both sides of this complex issue.

The article quotes Jared Giammona, a cannatourism operator, as “on the lookout for ways to accommodate cannabis consumers while following the letter of the law.” How lucky Sonoma County is to have such law-abiding citizens working in the cannatourism field! The article neglects to mention that, after the County failed to act, a group of neighbors was forced to sue Giammona’s company, the Sonoma County Experience, for illegally transporting busloads of tourists to an unlicensed cannabis grow in the rural Purvine Road neighborhood. That court order remains in effect today, and is well known to the Press Democrat, which has spoken with neighbors about the lawsuit.

The court order is relevant because it highlights another important aspect of cannatourism which the Press Democrat article fails to discuss – its negative impact on Sonoma County’s rural neighborhoods. Imagine the shock and dismay of Purvine Road neighbors when they awoke one morning to the sound of buses filled with cannabis tourists from San Francisco rumbling down their rural lane! Now imagine those impacts occurring up and down the County. Imagine them occurring in your neighborhood.

Of course the County can attempt to regulate cannatourism to minimize its adverse impacts. But how well has the County performed so far in regulating cannabis generally? And why is it not enforcing the cannabis rules already on the books? Cannatourism is already happening, illegally, on a massive scale. If you don’t believe that, just Google “cannabis tourism Sonoma County” and look at the results. Why is the Board of Supervisors looking the other way?

The Press Democrat article does not mention the negative consequences of cannatourism on the environment generally. Traffic, air quality, greenhouse gases, water, biological and agricultural resources – these are just some of the areas that will be impacted by an influx of cannabis tourists. It would be reckless in the extreme for the Supervisors to allow this industry to grow until an EIR is completed, followed by a vigorous community discussion. It would be a shame for Sonoma County to disregard its proud history of environmental protection based on the allure of cannatourism bucks.

The Press Democrat article did a disservice to the public. Instead of presenting a fact-based balanced discussion of both sides of the issue, it tried to force-feed readers into believing that cannatourism will be an economic boon without any downsides worth mentioning. There is another point of view. I hope that the Press Democrat will explore the darker side of cannatourism, and its potentially devastating impact on our quality of life, in a follow up article very soon.

(name withheld for privacy)