Close to Home: Cannabis applicants deserve a fair hearing

NIMBYs in Sonoma County often hide under the guise of security and preservation of their land, but they are prohibitionists masquerading as land-use advocates. Wineries, developers, small businesses, dairy farmers and, most recently, those of us working legally in the cannabis industry consistently face these groups.

While everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, when those beliefs turn to threats and intimidation it's time for the community - including Sonoma County leaders - to act.

People have always fought change, and that's the beauty of our country; we can stand up for what we believe and voice our opinions. However, now, this vocal group's method of fighting change involves frivolous lawsuits designed to intimidate and violate legal rights in the permit process. A small group is spreading misinformation about the cannabis industry, while defaming and making blatantly false claims about many of us in it, including accusing us of illegal activities.

The reality of the past two years: Those of us working to cultivate the legal cannabis industry in Sonoma County have been filing applications and permits, attending meetings to inform and educate, embracing and inviting the community to learn about each of us and patiently waiting to move forward. We are committed to this process and have responded to these unjustified attacks to the best of our ability, with poise and professionalism.

We must consider that some agricultural industries are dying off, and others are here to take their place. Cannabis is just one example.

Those of us following every legal process deserve due process so that the cannabis industry may thrive. Making way for modern agricultural businesses in Sonoma County translates into taxes, jobs, the housing industry and the best interests of the community. It is a great proposition for sustainable development. Therefore, embracing cannabis in Sonoma County means building a future foundation for our county to continue to be a strong and resilient community.

This group of individuals has taken to trying to halt the growth of this industry, an industry that will actually enable the future economic health and viability of this county, using false rhetoric and intimidation.

The intimidation tactics must end. The vote for legal, licensed cannabis has already been decided. It's time that permits and licenses are processed and granted. Sonoma County needs to keep moving forward, without fear of change and without instilling fear in those of us legally leading the charge.

Sam Magruder owns land in Sonoma County and is a cannabis permit applicant. He lives in San Francisco.

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