Steve's Thoughts and Campaign News
Anti Cannabis Defeat
The dwindling population of anti-cannabis crusaders in our town suffered another defeat at Tuesday's meeting of our City Council to hear an appeal of the Planning Commsission's 5-0 decision to permit our first cannabis dispensary at 160 East N Street. As expected, the council locked up at 2-2, and the appeal failed. Tom Campbell had to recuse since he lives less than 400 feet away.
Only sixty-one citizens objected, offering the same assurances of crime, etc. since day 1 of cannabis hearings. It is important to reaffirm the role of our Chief of Police in these matters. He has consistently testified that sound legislative policy, advanced security design, and diligent oversight are consistent with trouble-free dispensary operations he has observed in his career. Our city requires a Public Safety License sign-off from the Chief before any cannabis-related business can operate. That should be sufficient for those that harbor fears about regulated cannabis sales being a threat to public safety of the surrounding neighborhood.
Opponents rolled out years-old letters of opposition to cannabis in Benicia from the Benicia Police Officers Association, Benicia Unified School District, and the Chamber of Commerce. These groups did not present opposition to 160 East N Street at the Planning Commission permit hearing or for the appeal. As stated by council members and public speakers, Benicia is evolving on the issue of regulated cannabis activity in our city, much the same as it is across the nation. A number of comments were about how this city celebrates booze events; wine walks, beer crawls, and similar gatherings where people get high on alcohol, wander around downtown, then drive a car.
With regard to political candidate views on regulated cannabis, at this time we have three contenders for the mayor's seat and two for a council seat. Leading mayoral candidate Steve Young has been unwavering in his support of a regulated and taxed cannabis industry in our town, and holds the distinction of being the only member of this council that has never voted to ban cannabis in Benicia. Mayoral candidate Christina Strawbridge, who owes her presence on the council to the corrupt tactics and enormous spending by external groups to place her and Lionel Largaespada on our council, has consistently been outspoken in opposition to cannabis in Benicia, as has Largaespada. Both have previously voted to ban regulated activity altogether, acquiesced to allowing on retail site, then flipped back again at the appeal to prohibit the one retail store they previously agreed to. Both of them were initially wrong about face masks as well, at first being against them, then flipping three weeks later just before the state ordered face masks in public. Mayoral candidate Jason Diavatis indicates support for retail cannabis, but was against the N Street location. Council candidate and Planning Commission Vice-Chair Trevor Macenski does not address the issue of cannabis at his campaign web site as of this writing, but indicates support for big oil, taking a shot at the mayor and Young as well. Candidate Terry Scott supports the Planning Commission decision. Clearly, Strawbridge and Macenski will be the annoited favorites of the same external groups' big money that helped put Strawbridge and Largaespada on council two years ago, securing a reliable majority of big oil advocates on our council
Steve Young, supporter of regulated cannabis industry as a substantial and sustainable economic component; cannabis oil = $300,000+ per gallon before taxes, produced in a moderately-sized industrial building. Christina Strawbridge, advocate for big oil and minimal city oversight of it; gasoline = $3 per gallon after taxes, produced on 800 acres of land. As of this submission, Strawbridge does not address cannabis at her campaign web site. My guess is she will not attend the open house for Authentic 707.
Steve Young, in step with modern Benicia. Christina Strawbridge, out of touch and out of time. Talks a lot of shavin' cream about supporting businesses and economic development, then slams the door on a multi-million dollar cannabis business group with assets and net revenues second only to big oil. It is unfortunate we will not have a Torchlight Parade this year. Strawbridge and Largaespada could have rode together in a '37 Packard.
The author is a longtime Benicia resident, senior, veteran, artist, and Compassionate Use Act patient.