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We are family farmers

The county's recently passed marijuana ordinance adversely affects my family and my business



My husband and I are the founders of Circle of Dreams Farm. Speaking as a member of one of the "small family farms" mentioned in the Nov. 30 article ("Supes set limits on marijuana industry in new county ordinance"), this ordinance is going to have devastating consequences. We have been cultivating cannabis in San Luis Obispo County under Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420 since the beginning of 2014, and we have always followed the city, county, and state regulations. When Paso Robles decided to vote on allowing delivery services, we immediately applied for our business license and were approved.

We maintained a discreet cultivation site on a 1-acre parcel in Paso Robles until January 2016 when the city voted to ban cultivation within its limits. We were forced to move our family and our farm out to the Carrizo Plain area where we thought we had finally found a place to operate our business peacefully. We purchased a home nestled on 5 acres of land and set up our cultivation site on less than one of those acres. The site is well concealed and securely fenced behind a 6-plus-foot screened fence with a locking gate, and well away from any property lines. We do not have neighbors on either side of us, and the one neighbor we do have behind us, we are in good standing with and they have issued no complaints regarding our farming activities.

Our farm utilizes closed-loop cultivation practices in which no waste is produced. Our cannabis is all organic and produced in an ethical manner. We have a well that we source all of our water from, and we have professionally installed sewage and electric. We immediately complied with the temporary ordinance in 2016 and were quickly approved to cultivate on our land. We meet all the impending state requirements regarding a cultivation license and have been patiently waiting for the state to begin accepting applications. However, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors' decision is creating much uncertainty for farms such as ours.

This ordinance feels like a huge step backward and is going to force us to either uproot our family once again for the second time in two years, a move we likely cannot afford to make, or put us out of business completely, taking away the livelihood that supports our family. I have written to every board member expressing my concerns, a task I have undertaken many times over the past several months of deliberation, and I feel that my concerns are falling on deaf ears.

Our farm and many other farms operating in the unincorporated areas of the county do not pose the threats that the board is concerned about, nor have we received any complaints about our activity, or done any harm to the environment or fellow citizens. To pass a blanket ordinance such as this is a huge injustice. It is going to put many people out of work and cause a lot of suffering within the community for both business owners and the longtime patients that they serve. I ask that anyone who shares my dismay over this ordinance speak out and voice your opinion in the hopes that our local government may revisit this issue and deliberate with more effort to find a win-win solution for everyone involved. Δ

Nawal Kassir is eking out a living in the California Valley, but that could change. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com or write a letter for publication and email it to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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