Cannabis industry faces obstacles

Over the next month, the Homer City Council will be discussing and deciding on an ordinance that will create some obstacles for cannabis entrepreneurs wishing to enter the legitimate industry if it were to pass in its current form.

No. 1: Limited cultivation facilities (capped at 500 square feet under cultivation) would be unable to operate in Rural Residential areas in Homer City Limits.

No. 2: All cannabis establishments will have to have a conditional use permit if they wish to operate in the Central Business District, something not required by the City of Homer for liquor establishments.

Industry experts and cannabis entrepreneurs have commented numerous times to the planning commission on how this will create obstacles and will inevitably fuel black market sales, which would undercut legal efforts in Homer. 

It was seemingly ignored and in reality, we saw the zoning get more and more restrictive the more we talked about it. Now it has been proposed to the city council.

I would have to say it was rather disheartening seeing the lack of interest in the revenues and jobs that the cannabis industry will bring to Homer if we have more reasonable zoning. 

Why is this such a big deal to industry advocates? It’s simple. It’s going to cost people more time and money to get licensed. It’s going to mean less locally grown cannabis and more imported cannabis. That equates to less jobs for Homer and less locally sourced products, which I am sure that people will be unhappy to hear about.

From a grower’s perspective in Rural Residential areas, especially small growers, they won’t be able to use their property to grow cannabis. They now have to move their plans elsewhere and I assure you it will cost, double, triple, or more just to get setup. 

That’s if they can even find a feasible location — one that isn’t in a swamp, which is essentially the area they are giving us to work with.

Folks should also be allowed to operate in downtown Homer with no additional permits other than a state permit. There has been zero recorded deaths from cannabis to date, yet, how many have died as a result of alcohol in the last week? Alcohol shouldn’t be getting all the free passes here, when cannabis is less harmful, by far. 

I urge folks to get involved with this, attend city council meetings, give public comment or sign the petition that is circulating around town. Let the city council know you want to allow limited cultivation in rural areas and you think they should let cannabis establishments operate freely in Central Homer. 

Jeremiah Emmerson