JEFF NAUGHTON of Evexia Science is shown above with Council member Joy Markum and Mayor Mark Marin on August 28th during Public Comment. Members of the public are shown in the doorway.
CANNABIS MANUFACTURE AND DISTRIBUTION was subject of a Public Hearing Monday, August 27th at Loyalton City Hall. City Council member Joy Markum called it a presentation on a new business that would like to come in the community and she gave two guidelines: no fist fights and no bullying. Richard Mackler, advisor and consultant introduced Jeff Naughton and Augustine, interpreter for CA Superior Courts six years, owners of a cannabis medical dispensary business, Evexia Science in Truckee. Richard told of previous successes, and the plan to move out of Truckee which won’t permit retail sales and come do manufacturing and distribution in Loyalton. He planned to give a slide presentation but for a constant barrage of questions. Among questions were why they didn’t go to Nevada City and why they were denied in Truckee, tax revenue if it’s illegal federally, their environmental plan, law enforcement, business hours, manufacturing concerns, from where retail and distribution are sourced. Augustine, who has no degree but experience in business, talked of mainly manufacturing and compared it to a bakery but was booed by the audience, urged not to use the comparison. Richard told of being the only collective in California to do primary research and would love to do a soda factory here, doing initially tablets which is their main product. He told of Truckee not allowing store fronts or manufacturing. His goal is being a “collaborative partner with Loyalton.” Plans would be to purchase 710 and 712 Main Street vacant lots, contingent on the license, and construct a 4,500 sq. ft. metal building. He hadn’t looked at local construction companies and was reminded by City bookkeeper Tracy Smith that Truckee construction companies have a “huge base of employees” in Loyalton. Under question of distinction of money of tax revenue, Richard stated they put proceeds in a bank, had talked to the town attorney and there was no distinction on where the money’s from. Richard told of the City being eligible for State grants, they’d have retail sales predominately tablets and edibles with auto and pickup truck distribution. Questioned on manufacturing concerns, Richard told of using one chemical, alcohol, food coloring and flavors. With Dennis Marsh stating commercial grows were illegal in Sierra County, Richard said they’d be dealing with maybe 300-pounds of raw material per month. Sarah Grew of Pike told about adult and medical use of cannabis, caring about wellness and was met with sarcasm with audience members stating, “Illegal drug money is so wrong.” Markum reminded the crowd, “Don’t point fingers.” Richard told of a sally door for security and controlled entry. He talked of the impact on law enforcement with “not a lot of officers.” He called security their responsibility and material stored in safes. Dennis Marsh corrected him of more police presence and security can’t fall on them but residents and County government. Dennis felt insulted it sounded like town folk are “back water hicks.” Several in the audience spoke out against the permit until they spoke with the sheriff’s department and a concern for the “well being of town,” the affects of the whole valley and the subject being tabled, wanting the opinion of the sheriff. Richard told of the State process to track and trace every sale of medical or adult cannabis with independent testing labs. Audience members questioned the sally door and why the building had to be downtown. Dennis Marsh told the underlying concern was the lack of promotion of the meeting and how it could be an action item the next night at the council meeting and they’d like to see a series of meetings. Richard said reality was weather, the ability to break ground and pour. After questioning on State licensing and rules and being read how taxes aren’t seeing the benefit, Richard stated they weren’t taking testimonies but rather to address questions. Derrick Koch is Boy Scout advisor, EMT, firefighter and told of kids’ individual research, gave percentages and advised, “Don’t do it.” Victoria Fisher, wife of Sheriff-elect Sgt. Mike Fisher, addressed Richard to do due diligence and contact the sheriff. She called the county “in limbo” and in January they’d make sure the coverage is on both sides of the county. Sgt. Fisher was in Alleghany. Nurse Donna Dorsey had misgivings, told side affects and risks and stated it “doesn’t sound like medical.” She told of a “clear message” if the community approves this; to our child we approve of marijuana. She called it a “moral issue.” That was met with an audience member stating, “Flip side is to do something economically.”
August 28th City Council meeting’s Public Comment had Dennis Marsh tell of California’s cannabis enforcement position of 600-feet from any schools. He measured from the proposed lot to the elementary school gym which is 317-feet. He strongly suggested action on cannabis retail processing and distribution not be allowed, calling it “obviously blatant disregard for State law.” From the audience, Cali Griffin, Future Farmers of America advisor and ag teacher at Loyalton High School, advised the Council “FFA knows the correct rules,” and to make motions correctly and accused them of not following the agenda. Jeff Naughton called it “simply proposing California legal business under Prop. 64. He stated he’d given the wrong address and it was 706 Main, 600-feet away from School Street. He further argued it doesn’t meet definition of school. He told of bringing jobs which only brought booing from the crowd and had Mayor Mark Marin pound the gavel and introduce Attorney Steve Gross. Gross explained Prop. 64 allows the city to regulate cannabis activity if it so desires and regulates the State license. The City has no ordinance to regulate cannabis activity. If it wants to regulate it , it needs to adopt an ordinance quickly and to hold a public hearing. The city license has to comply with the city business ordinance. He recommended the Council should accept or deny the application for a business license to be conducted on this property with this zoning and adopt an ordinance. Mark stated to do it this week at a special meeting and opened a public hearing. Sgt. Mike Fisher, Sheriff-elect questioned Jeff on manufacturing of oils and extraction. Jeff told of a safe micro license, “like a bakery,” and do extractions. “It’s nothing like a local bakery,” the Sgt. replied. Senior Probation Deputy Chuck Henson stated, “Loyalton should be proud,” stating it’s very small and strong and the town always comes together. Mayor Mark Marin’s “personal opinion,” was this should go to a vote of the people. Supervisor Jim Beard questioned why Evexia Science left Truckee and read a letter from Jenna Gatto, AICP Planning Manager of Town of Truckee where she wrote, “Mr. Naughton has illegally operated a delivery service and cannabis extract manufacturing business in Truckee for a number of years.” She added, “I did just confirm that his manufacturing business (EvexiaScience LLC) is registered to a residential property located in Truckee.” Nina Tucker called it a “moot point” with no zoning and called Loyalton a “magical place.” The Mayor told Jeff he’d felt deceived over acquiring mill property and a long term plan when the crowd questioned it the previous night and was told no, there was nothing at the co-gen. Jeff went over an elaborate plan to bring the co-gen property into the city and has $8 million “lined up” to develop a soda pop manufacturing-infused business and bring other companies with a $6.5 million payroll and bringing $100,000 into town with a manufacturing tax. Greg Andal had done studies on crime rates on robbings and shooting deaths. City Bookkeeper Tracy Smith objected that the attorney already recommended to deny it. She called the crowd, “Some ill behaved,” and should be ashamed. She questioned “why keep putting this man (Naughton) through this?” The mayor took offense; “You’re not going to talk to me like that.” Samantha Redman addressed the Council, “A lot of us are o.k. with this coming in,” and she stated growth would be good. Jessica Norman told of Sierra Nevada Children’s Services across the street from the proposed location having families, trainings and easy access. She is also Youth Leader at Assembly of God Church Hall with 30-75 kids and its proximity was a concern. She stated that city block services more kids than any place in the entire county. Janet McHenry didn’t want bad business decisions overall for the city and opened the curtain to reveal the school gym. Jeff didn’t want the city to “hang up manufacturing activities.” He called it “making like candy.” He talked of the issue of zoning and the “one person zoning department.” Gross advised the council “wrap it up.” Joy made a motion to deny the permit/business license with Mark seconding it and Nancy voting no, Joy and Mark voting yes and Tracy questioning Nancy. Joy reworded the motion to deny the application for a permit as presented, seconded by Mark and was passed.