Allowing commercial cultivation of immature marijuana plants in HMB (Measure GG) gives the pot industry a foothold from which it will aggressively lobby to be allowed to grow mature marijuana plants, sell marijuana products and manufacture marijuana concentrates and edibles (Measures EE, MM, SS). The local pro-cannabis industry group has stated this as their strategy, in the minutes to their March 2018 meeting.  That’s why we recommend voting NO on all four measures.


The body of evidence showing the significant public health, safety, and environmental threats posed by this industry continues to grow as documented in the recent report Lessons Learned From Marijuana Legalization in Four States and DC. 

Increased crime

Cannabis grow operations are an attractive target for robbery attempts, which poses a threat to public safety in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Legal grow facilities in California and other states are already being targeted. In the coastal town of Carpinteria, there have been three incidents in the past year:

Armed robbery August 2018

Armed robbery June 2018

Grow operation robbery December 2017

In December 2017, a dispensary in Pacifica was robbed of $20,000 worth of medical marijuana.

In July 2018 a grow operation in Monterey county was robbed, with employees assaulted and tied up.

In August, 2017, a Santa Rosa marijuana distribution center was robbed at gunpoint

In June 2017,  armed robbery at gunpoint from a marijuana and food farm near San Diego.

Our sheriff’s office on the Coastside is already stretched very thin as seven officers must cover the coast from Montara to Pescadero. The limited law enforcement resources, combined with our limited access roads magnify the risks to the community posed by commercial cannabis operations.

Increase in black market operations 

Although cannabis commercialization has been presented as a way to eliminate the black market, experience in Colorado, Washington and Oregon has shown that illegal grow operations have increased under legalization. According to law enforcement sources, these black market growers grow under the cover of legal pot grows.

The head of the DEA stated that the black market in Colorado has grown twenty fold since legalization. Additionally Cuban and Mexican cartels have set up grow operations in Colorado to grow pot which they export to other states.

Illegal grow operations are also increasing in Oregon and Washington, where black market growers masquerade as legal grows.

Black market grows have even appeared in neighborhoods.   In April 2018, in Sacramento, Federal agents seized one hundred residences that were being used by a Chinese drug cartel to grow black market pot.

Normalization of pot use among youth  in the community

Allowing the marijuana industry into our town will normalize the drug for our youth. Opening the door to this industry not only puts our environment at risk but also our youth – by sending a message that marijuana is “just like any other crop”, which normalizes its use and contributes to their belief that marijuana is harmless.  Representatives of the San Mateo County Health Department have testified to City Council the known risk to youth of “normalizing” the production, distribution, and use of marijuana.

Multiple studies exist showing that detrimental effects of marijuana on the adolescent brain: Marijuana Use: Detrimental to Youth. (April 2017), American College of Pediatricians.  

Increased likelihood of chronic use in youth:  A study from New England Journal of Medicine found that youth are at increased risk of becoming chronic marijuana users.  17% of those who start smoking pot during adolescence become chronic users.

Decreased Perception of Harm

The presence of a marijuana industry in our small town that is promoting its products – especially through social media- will make youth more likely to use the drug since the messages young people receive in their everyday community in terms of how a legal drug is made available and marketed are far more powerful than any countervailing messages they hear from parents, teacher, and health officials.  This is supported by a recent RAND study that followed 6,509 adolescents from 2010 until 2017 from 16 California middle schools through high school.  The study found that adolescents, who view more advertising for medical marijuana, are more likely to use marijuana, express intentions to use the drug and have more-positive expectations about the substance.

Journal of the American Medical Society Pedatrics research published in 2017 shows that in Washington, 8th graders’ perception of marijuana’s harmfulness fell by about 14 percent from before legalization (2010 to 2012) to afterward (2013 to 2015). Similarly, among 10th graders, the perception of harmfulness decreased about 16 percent.

Increased Use by Youth

Research also shows a connection between marijuana cultivation and retail operations and increased use by youth – including use of more potent forms of marijuana.  An Oregon study  found:…that a greater number of registered marijuana patients and growers per 1000 population in Oregon counties was associated with a higher prevalence of marijuana use among youth from 2006 to 2015, and that this relationship was partially attributable to perceived norms favorable towards marijuana use

Threat from marijuana concentrates & edibles

Advisory Measure MM asks voters if they would approve of City Council allowing the manufacturing of marijuana concentrates and edible snack foods in HMB.

Dr. Rav Ivker, a respected medical marijuana advocate, asserts that concentrates should be illegal, stating “The only thing they’re good for is getting really high. But they’re high risk, and there’s really no benefit from them.”  He points out that daily use of these concentrates can lead to addiction and mental illness in certain vulnerable people – especially adolescents.

Many of these extracts are processed into edibles appealing to children and teens, such as candy, cookies, and brownies, which are not readily identifiable as extremely potent drugs.  As a result, in California, the number of calls to poison control centers involving people 19 and younger who were exposed to marijuana has steadily risen from 347 in 2015 to 588 in 2017.

A study from Dartmouth Medical School shows that teens living in medical marijuana states with many dispensaries were much more likely to have tried new methods of cannabis use such as edibles and vaping at a younger age than those living in states with fewer dispensaries.

Our youth are our future. Why would we subject them to this “social experiment”?

Significant environmental impacts

The significant negative environmental impacts on our fragile coastal environment due to high water and energy demands.

Studies that have investigated marijuana cultivation practices have identified potentially significant environmental impacts due to excessive water and energy demands and local contamination of water, air and soil with waste products such as organic pollutants and agro-chemicals.

Cannabis cultivation uses twice as much water as wine grape cultivation. In fact, a single plant can require up to 6 gallons of water per day, and grow operations here would have tens of thousands of plants. In a drought prone, high wildfire prone area, such as Half Moon Bay, where water is a precious resource, it is irresponsible to introduce an industry that would consume so much water.

High intensity electrical lighting used to promote growth of marijuana plants is on 12 to 18 hours per day.

A California state study cites that 1 kilogram (kg) of cannabis produced indoors requires 4,000 to 6,000 kilowatt hours (kWh); this is compared to just 16 kWh to produce 1 kg of aluminum, which is typically considered an energy intensive product.  Energy cost alone for 1 kg of indoor grown pot is over $500!  By another estimate, growing 1 pound of pot indoors has the same environmental impact as burning 230 gallons of gasoline.

The electrical energy consumption required to grow marijuana commercially has a huge carbon footprint. This is inconsistent with the community which prides itself on environmental stewardship.

Significant risk to Latino farm workers employed in the marijuana industry

Marijuana cultivation/industry could pose a significant risk to Latino farm workers  

While the supporters of these measures talk about the “good” agricultural jobs this industry will bring to our community, the majority of Latino residents have strongly opposed this industry because of the immigration risks it could pose to any non-citizens working in the industry under the current administration’s aggressive deportation policy.

The Immigration Legal Resource Center (ILRC) warns that working in any marijuana facility can expose a non- citizen to being charged and  found guilty of a Federal drug crime which makes him/her deportable and bars him/her from re-entering or returning to the US.  Because under Federal law, working in a state licensed marijuana facility or having a history of having worked in such a facility is considered participating in drug trafficking,  even if immigration authorities have “reason to believe” a non-citizen participated in drug trafficking,  that person is inadmissible to the US and barred from naturalization.

The center advises non-citizens that “if you have ever used marijuana or worked in the industry, get a legal consult before leaving the US or applying for naturalization or immigration status.”

If Half Moon Bay passes any of the commercialization measures, non- citizen Latino workers at local farms that convert to marijuana growing will face the risk of being deported or barred from re-entering the country, if immigration officers learn that he or she works in the marijuana industry.  They would face the painful choice of either leaving their jobs or live with an increased risk of deportation hanging over their heads.

Additional risk for workers:  If existing greenhouse crops are displaced by marijuana, and the marijuana industry changes or fails, we will never get those other crops back, nor the jobs that disappeared with them.

Increased rental housing costs due to housing needs for imported workers

Marijuana grow operations tend to hire people they know they can trust, and are comfortable with. This means they often import workers from outside the area, and don’t necessarily hire locally. Combined with the fact that many local Latino workers do not want to work in the marijuana industry, bringing in outside labor is likely.

In our already over-pressured housing market, the influx of additional workers, funded by pot money, will drive rents even higher, and drive locals out of their rented homes. Landlords may like this, the opportunity to capitalize on fresh cash, but it’s not good for our community. Our most vulnerable community residents will be the ones who suffer first, and the most.

Erosion of quality of life and culture

Marijuana industry in HMB is incompatible with our town’s culture, will impair residents’ quality of life and will lead to an increase in the transient population

Several of the agricultural parcels eligible for marijuana cultivation are within a half mile of residential neighborhoods.  A marijuana industry is completely incompatible with the surrounding community and will significantly change the character of our town.

Increase in Transient Population

In addition to increasing crime in our neighborhoods, commercial marijuana cultivation will also lead to an increase in the transient population on the coast.

The cities and towns in Colorado that have welcomed this industry have suffered from an increase in homelessness and crime, from articles Colorado Governor Won’t Rule Out Banning Marijuana Again – Here’s Why  and Colorado survey suggests legal marijuana is attracting homeless people.

Residents of Durango, Fort Collins, and Pueblo, Colorado are blaming the marijuana farms and dispensaries for a massive increase in homelessness, panhandling and drug use.

Impact on neighborhoods – marijuana farms stink up neighborhoods and increase noise and traffic

In California, residents of Carpinteria, Greenfield, Sonoma County as well as in Oregon, Colorado and Washington have had their quality of life impaired and property values decreased by obnoxious odors from marijuana greenhouses, noise from equipment and greenhouse fans and increased traffic.

May 2018:  An Associated Press story about Carpinteria’s marijuana greenhouses appeared in newspapers across the country documenting the “thick skunk-like odor from marijuana plants that settles over the valley in the evenings and before dawn.”

In Greenfield CA,  the stink from the marijuana greenhouses is very noticeable at a school located several blocks away leading residents to be concerned for the health of their kids.

In a community near Aspen, CO neighbors in a nearby residential neighborhood complained about the stink from a high tech marijuana greenhouse for months stating that they couldn’t enjoy outdoor activities or open their windows. It was only resolved after the grower installed new carbon filters at a cost of close to seven figures  and the county hired an odor monitor to monitor the odor in the air.

Community discord and lawsuits

Some landowners have resorted to suing neighboring marijuana farms complaining that that their quality of life has decreased and the value of their property has been diminished due to the nearby marijuana operation.

In Oregon, landowners have sued neighboring licensed pot operations complaining that their quality of life has decreased due to the stink, noise from diesel generators, loud barking of guard dogs that spook their horses, trash along the road and loud traffic along a quiet private road.

Colorado landowners sued a neighboring marijuana business alleging that the obnoxious odors affected their enjoyment of their land and the adjacent indoor marijuana grow operation reduced their property value.

We can risk taking this industry in, and then having to sue for compliance later, or we can simply say NO, now.   

Decrease in property values

Most of the potential HMB marijuana farm locations are less than a mile from residential neighborhoods which could result in a decline in property values. 

A study of Colorado home prices showed that prices of homes within a half mile of a “grow house” are 8.4% lower than the county average.

A recent article in the Sacramento Bee suggested that the proximity of a grow facility would have to be disclosed in a home sale and speculated that it could decrease a home’s value.

Increased risk of impaired drivers on our roads

With marijuana related accidents on the rise, our tourist oriented town can expect to see an increase in pot DUIs and accidents if visitors are able to purchase marijuana products here.

Since January 2018, the Bay Area has seen its fair share of horrific or fatal crashes that have shut down roads and highways. Most recently, California State Controller Betty Yee, her husband and CHP driver were injured in a crash that shut down the Posey Tube for 1 ½ hours, when their stopped unmarked state vehicle was rear ended by a driver under the influence of marijuana.

In May, three people died in a five vehicle crash that shut down Highway 880 for almost 8 hours, caused by a driver suspected to be driving under the influence of marijuana.

In the nine county Bay Area region in 2017, there were 22 traffic collisions with property damage and a pot-only DUI arrest and 7 with an injury and a pot-only DUI arrest. When alcohol and pot were involved, injury collisions jumped to 24 and there were 7 fatal collisions.

According to Sergeant Rob Nacke, spokesman for CHPs Golden Gate District, if the trend since 2017 continues, 2018 could see a 70 percent rise in pot DUI arrests.

This reflects the trends in other states where marijuana has been legalizedMarijuana related traffic deaths increased 66% in the four year average (2013-16) since Colorado legalized recreational marijuana compared to the four year average before legalization.

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, the number of vehicle collision claims since marijuana was legalized has increased 16% in Colorado, 6.2% in Washington and 4.5% in Oregon.

Bringing the marijuana industry into Half Moon Bay increases the opportunity for residents and visitors to smoke, ingest and drive, encouraging erratic and reckless driving on our already congested roads.


Vote NO on Measures GG, EE, SS & MM — it’s not a good idea for Half Moon Bay!