I’m going to be blunt: Humboldt County needs to rethink its stance against pot businesses.

This summer, Rendall Miller appealed to commissioners to allow marijuana establishments in the county. 

As part of the appeal, he brought a wheelbarrow overflowing with gallon-sized plastic bags containing the equivalent (in straw bedding) of 50 pounds of dried marijuana that a Humboldt County resident who grows it can legally store in the home and can — legally — gift to others an ounce at a time.

Commissioners relied on two reasons to ban pot businesses in Humboldt County: marijuana is federally illegal, and county residents voted against legalizing it on the state initiative.

Let’s be clear. Commissioners are referring to the county’s voting results to Question 2 legalizing recreational pot in 2016. They say that, because Humboldt County voters didn’t want to legalize pot then, the county shouldn’t allow businesses that deal in it now. On the surface, that seems logical.

But that was then. Circumstances have changed since November 2016. Before 2017, when recreational pot officially became legal in the state, the amount of legal cannabis in the county was relatively low and relegated to medical marijuana only.

Now, as Miller showed, anyone age 21 or older can legally grow and store a literal wheelbarrowful of pot if they so desire. No regulation, and no rules about how they can adulterate the product afterward with sprays to increase the THC, or some other intoxicating substance.

The federal ban on cannabis is outside of the county’s control and, honestly, irrelevant to the immediate concern. 

Even if the federal government continues to consider pot illegal, it’s legal in the state of Nevada right now. Without regulation within the county, the amount of marijuana available only makes illegal sale or distribution to minors easier. 

As of right now, we don’t know what’s in circulation on the street. And law enforcement’s hands are cuffed because it’s nearly impossible to prove that an adult in possession of large amounts of pot didn’t grow it legally.

This problem is here, now. Commissioners should not throw up their hands and refuse to act for such flimsy reasons. If commissioners want to reduce the amount of marijuana available for gifting and illegal sale, the county needs a dispensary. Within a 25-mile radius of the dispensary, residents can legally possess only one ounce of dried bud for recreational use. Not 50 pounds. Not a wheelbarrowful. One ounce.

I fully understand that it might feel hypocritical to allow pot establishments after resisting them so vehemently for so long. But under the current circumstances, continuing to resist is only like waiting to rip the bandage off. The county will have to accept it eventually, and it’s probably not as painful as we fear it will be.

Commissioner Mike Bell made an excellent point during the November commission meeting that, considering the dangers cannabis can pose, wouldn’t it be better and safer for the community to remove as much of it from circulation as possible and regulate what remains? The only way to do that is by rescinding the county ban on cannabis establishments and allowing an enterprising resident to open a dispensary.

Commissioner Jim French said if Humboldt County residents put forward a ballot initiative specifically to allow marijuana establishments in the county, and it passed, then commissioners would feel more amenable to changing the ordinance. But that opportunity is still two years away. 

Perhaps it’s unwise to kick the can that far down the road when a teenager now can score a quarter or more in two hours or less.

Contact Shanna Cummings at s.cummings@winnemuccapublishing.net