Napa County voters favor allowing cannabis cultivation, poll says
A poll commissioned by the Napa Valley Cannabis Association found that 64 percent of Napa County residents would support a proposed ballot measure allowing commercial cultivation of the plant in parts of the county.
The association intends to forge ahead with the measure in a bid to pressure the Napa County Board of Supervisors to vote to allow the industry to operate there on an industrial scale, according to Eric Sklar, an NVCA member and owner of Napa-based cannabis delivery company Fumé.
The poll was conducted by Change Research and sampled 348 registered Napa voters. It is said to have a 5 percent margin of error at a 95 percent interval.
The association aims to be the main trade group for cannabis producers in the county and advocates for commercial cultivation of the plant in Napa.
“We don’t mean this in any way as a threat,” Sklar said, noting that to get the measure on the March 2020 ballot his group needed to begin the process immediately of filing the measure with the county elections division and collecting upwards of 5,500 signatures.
Sklar said the measure once drafted could be brought to the supervisors, who would have the option to either place it on the ballot or craft a resolution of their own, potentially using parts of the association's measure.
Time is of the essence, however, because under the legalization terms of Proposition 64, if no action to allow cultivation is taken before June 30, the county would be required to undertake a costly environmental impact study required by the California Environmental Quality Act, Sklar said.
While the supervisors had voted last fall to allow the cultivation of a limited amount of cannabis for personal use, they had continually voted to extend an emergency ordinance, Sklar said. Those were adopted by many jurisdictions after cannabis was legalized in California last year, disallowing commercial cultivation.
The ballot measure as conceived by the trade group would only allow commercial cultivation in the unincorporated sections of the county, while cities would be left to vote on whether they would permit retail of the drug, Sklar said.
Not having a legal cannabis market in the county contributed to a thriving black market, Sklar said, And regulated commercial cultivation and retail sales would be a boon for county tax revenues, he said.
Over 60 percent of cannabis purchased in the state happened on the black market, according to a statement from association board President Stephanie Honig.
“The only way to end this illegal market, which is dangerous to our children, our environment and our citizens, is to help create a flourishing safe and effectively regulated legal market for this legal product,” Honig said.
Staff Writer Chase DiFeliciantonio covers technology, banking, law, accounting, and the cannabis industry. Reach him at email@example.com or 707-521-4257.