Yep, Pot Goes Legit, Sort of

Story by Jacqueline Fox  |  2018-01-03

Because marijuana remains categorized as a controlled substance under federal law, the state has left it up to individual counties and cities to determine if they wanted in on the action or not, giving them a Dec. 31 deadline. MPG copyright image.

Sacramento County, CA (MPG) - In many cities across California, Sacramento included, the cultivation and sale of recreational cannabis becomes legal Jan. 1, opening the flood gates for an industry widely expected to generate a gold mine for municipalities who have said “yes” to the legitimization of the pot business.

However, Sacramento County, as well as the cities of Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova and Folsom, among others in Placer County and points across the map, each have stuck to their guns and have banned what they view as the coming of the wild west of commerce. 

Anticipating an uptick in violent crime, robberies, homelessness and headaches, coupled with a complicated process for management of the commercial side of the cannabis industry, these areas have echoed a resounding “NOT” to the cultivation of cannabis in their towns.  There are also too many questions, they say, about how to affectively assess pot farmers on their profits from what is currently a cash-and-carry industry, not to mention the offense of the smell from burning weed wafting over their neighborhoods.

So pot is legit as of Jan. 1, and yet it isn’t, depending on where you reside and how you intend to consume or even grow it. 

If you’re cloudy on the issues, there’s good reason for it.  The medicinal marijuana laws passed several years ago that ushered in the growth of the pot dispensary market made it legal for those with a “prescription” from their physicians to purchase limited amounts of pot.

Proposition 64, passed in November 2016, effectively made it possible for weed growers who are lucky enough to obtain licenses from the state to come out of the shadows and begin cashing in on the commercial recreational pot market, which is expected to generate roughly $1 billion for the state annually.  Tax proceeds on pot farmers’ bounties will, in part, support enforcement and oversight of the industry, among other programs. 

In addition, Prop. 64 allows for the personal cultivation of up to six living pot plants for non-medical purposes, provided they are grown inside a person's private residence or a green house, but not in a field or backyard, as many cultivators have been doing under the radar for years. 

So, where and when will it be legal to grow, sell or possess pot?  And are pot dispensaries legal or not? 

Because marijuana remains categorized as a controlled substance under federal law, the state has left it up to individual counties and cities to determine if they wanted in on the action or not, giving them a Dec. 31 deadline to say so, in order for the approval process for applications from prospective growers to begin Jan. 1. 

The City of Sacramento voted this fall to join the party and is currently cultivating its own guidelines for commercial growing and distribution.  Licensees will be taxed 4% of their proceeds, for starters.  Applications for conditional use permits are required and renewable annually.  Depending on the type of business you want to run, city fees for setting up a grow operation will run you anywhere between $9,000 and $15,000, and between $8,000 and $13,000 to renew the license each year.

But, since it’s a cash flow operation, there are many unanswered questions as to how growers will deposit and move earnings, just one of the headaches fueling the Rancho Cordova City Council’s “no” vote.

“We have been watching all the things the city of Sacramento is going through and we see it as just a headache we do not want to deal with,” said Vice Mayor Linda Budge following her council’s 3-2 vote against lifting the ban on commercial operations Dec. 4.

Sacramento currently has roughly three dozen pot dispensaries, again built out primarily after the medicinal pot laws went into effect, but there is a moratorium on approval of new applications for licenses.  Pot cultivation beyond the legal limit of six plants inside a residence, delivery services and pot dispensaries all remain illegal in Citrus Heights, Folsom, Rancho Cordova and countywide.  

Proponents of Prop. 64 and the decriminalization of the marijuana industry site the stigma of pot and previous felony-level charges for minor offenses that, they say, often stood between offenders’ abilities to find a job or, in some cases, obtain approval for adequate housing.  

Opponents of the law, however, including city officials, law enforcement agencies and county prosecutors  have repeatedly pointed to what they see as a direct through-line between cannabis cultivation and pot dispensaries and serious crime, including murder, which they expect will continue, despite the changes in the law.

“I’ve been a prosecutor for 30 years, and as long as I’ve been involved with cases involving crimes related to marijuana, it has always been a very high-risk, dangerous activity,” said Robert Gold, assistant chief deputy district attorney.  “It is always going to be a dangerous activity whether legal or not, because so many of the growers are less sophisticated.  The bad guys are going to believe that they have a lot of product, a lot of money and probably guns.  And the other thing is, they won’t often report crimes against themselves, which makes them vulnerable victims.”

Gold also cautioned that it remains illegal, regardless of where you live, to carry more than an ounce of marijuana, but conceded the misdemeanor charges that now accompany most minor pot infractions, make it difficult to justify the costs of prosecuting such cases.

“The law certainly has resulted in changing the laws in favor of those who want to make this a business,” said Gold.  “Whether you grow 25 plants illegally or 250,000 plants, it’s a misdemeanor and 180 days in the county Jail.  So even for a convicted felon, it’s now like a speeding ticket.”

POT OR NOT:

Sacramento Region:
The City of Sacramento: YES
Sacramento County: NO
Citrus Heights NO
Folsom: NO
Rancho Cordova: NO
Elk Grove: NO
Galt: NO

Placer County: NO
Roseville: NO
Rocklin: NO

PLACER COUNTY REGION, CA (MPG) - Placer County residents who are experiencing homelessness now have a new, centralized gateway to housing resources.

Today marked the launch of the Homeless Resource Helpline. People who are homeless may call 1-833-3PLACER (1-833-375-2237) and answer a few questions to determine their eligibility for various housing programs. Their needs will be shared with participating homeless service providers offering emergency housing, rapid re-housing and permanent supportive housing in Placer County. This telephone hotline is operated by the Homeless Resource Council of the Sierras, a collaborative group of agencies and nonprofit organizations from Placer and Nevada counties. That group leads the Continuum of Care, coordinating housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals.

This streamlined service will help various agencies throughout Placer County better coordinate services and prioritize needs. Homeless individuals will have their needs assessed in a consistent manner, and their data will be placed into the Continuum of Care’s Homeless Management Information System.

The helpline is also available in Spanish. Walk-in services will still be available at local emergency shelters for those who do not have a phone.

“This centralized tool makes it simple and easy for clients,” said Leslie Brewer, board president of the Homeless Resource Council of the Sierras. “A single number, and a standard assessment tool, streamline the process for providers and clients alike. We can better match clients with housing programs suited for their individual needs.”

Coordinated entry systems like Placer’s new helpline are required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The county will use the annual point-in-time count, scheduled for Jan. 25, as an opportunity to share information regarding the Homeless Resource Helpline with homeless individuals not already connected with services.  

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AUBURN, CA (MPG) - As the clock struck midnight on January 1, Placer County Water Agency’s (PCWA) Middle Fork Project (MFP) marked a momentous occasion 55 years in the making. As of New Year’s Day, PCWA completely controls power generation of the hydroelectric facility. The exciting news of a smooth transition was shared with the PCWA Board of Directors at its January 18 meeting.

“When Placer County residents voted in 1961 to finance construction of the Middle Fork Project, PCWA signed a 50-year power sale agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) which gave them control of power generation,” General Manager Einar Maisch said. “Under that agreement, PG&E received all of the power generated, but paid all of the project operating costs and paid off the construction debt.”

When the 50-year agreement expired in 2013, PCWA entered into new a 5-year power sale agreement with PG&E. Under this new agreement responsibilities for control of power generation were split between PCWA and PG&E, where PCWA made the economic decisions about when to generate, and PG&E used their control room at Drum Powerhouse to put those decisions into effect.

On January 1, that 5-year agreement ended, and with it PG&E’s involvement in PCWA’s MFP. Additionally, control room responsibilities were transferred to the Northern California Power Agency (NCPA) in Roseville, under an agreement signed in 2016.  “We appreciate the excellent working relationship we have had with PG&E for the past 55 years, and look forward to a productive relationship with NCPA moving forward,” Mr. Maisch added.

“With the transition of dispatch center responsibilities to NCPA, and PCWA’s assumption of Scheduling Coordinator for the MFP, all our long-term obligations are fulfilled, and the vision of PCWA’s forefathers for the MFP has come full circle,” Board Chairman Joshua Alpine said.

The next regular meeting of the PCWA Board of Directors will be held on February 1, 2:00 PM at the PCWA Business Center, 144 Ferguson Road, in Auburn. PCWA board meetings are open to the public.

For information on PCWA board meetings, please contact the Clerk to the Board at (530) 823-4850 or (800) 464-0030.

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Placer Community Foundation Scholarship Info

Placer Community Foundation  |  2018-01-18

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Placer Community Foundation invites local high school seniors and current college students to apply for scholarship awards for the 2018-2019 year. The Community Foundation is utilizing an online system, Smarter Select, for most of the applications. Eligibility criteria vary for each scholarship award and may include financial need, merit, geographic area or field of study. Students may read requirements and access application links here (http://placercf.org/grantmaking/apply-for-a-grant). Deadlines are in March for all programs. Please note late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

If you are having trouble accessing the online application or you would like more information about the scholarships, please contact Eileen Speaker at program@placercf.org or 530.885.4920. There are seven opportunities this year:

Placer High School students only:

Ken and Janice Forbes Geil Scholarship

Larry D. Mitchell Memorial Scholarship

Al Saladana Scholarship

Carmen Wilson Scholarship

Placer High School, Del Oro High School, Foresthill High School and Colfax High School:

John G. & Lillian M. Walsh Family Scholarship

Lincoln High School students only:

Ben Parra Scholarship

Former Newcastle Elementary School students:

Richard and Doris Sayles Family Scholarship

About Placer Community Foundation
Placer Community Foundation (PCF) grows local giving to strengthen our community by connecting donors who care with causes that matter. Known for sound financial management and knowledge of the nonprofit sector, the Community Foundation continually monitors the region to better understand the nature of local needs, so that it can invest in areas such as arts and culture, education, health and human services, animals and the environment. To learn more about establishing charitable funds during your lifetime or through your estate plan, visit PLACERGIVES.ORG, contact Jessica Hubbard at jhubbard@placercf.org, or call (530) 885-4920.

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Critical resource for residents non-renewed due to fire threat

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) – Yapacopia PBC (Public Benefit Corporation), in conjunction with the Insurance Sub Group of the Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force, today launched Sierra Insurance Finder, a new online service to help Placer County residents obtain home insurance.  The service was designed specifically to create a pathway to home insurance for residents who have been non-renewed or are having difficulty finding insurance. (www.SierraInsuranceFinder.com)

According to the California Tree Mortality Task Force, 102 million trees throughout California – 90 million in the Sierra Nevada region -- have died in recent years due to drought, insect attacks and disease.  Due to the increased fire threat, several insurance companies have discontinued selling home insurance in Placer County and other counties in the Sierra.

“Placer County residents are facing a dire situation with respect to the loss of their home insurance. Sierra Insurance Finder gives them a way to connect with local insurance agents who know the market and have access to home insurance solutions,” said Chris McCloy, founder and CEO of Yapacopia PBC.

“We think this platform will really help residents find alternate insurance solutions once they are non-renewed.  For those with home loans, getting insurance is critical to maintain their loan.  We think it will make the search less cumbersome and helpful to our residents,” said Placer County Office of Emergency Services Program Manager John McEldowney.

Sierra Insurance Finder partners with licensed insurance professionals who have access to multiple insurance markets both in California and outside California, as well as the California Fair Plan.  They can assist Placer County residents through the process of finding and buying home insurance.

Yapacopia PBC is encouraging qualified local insurance professionals in Placer County to partner with Sierra Insurance Finder project to assist county residents. For information and to apply to receive daily customer requests through the service, visit www.yapacopia.com/sierrabroker/

The service will officially expand to other counties in the Sierra Region very soon, but will work with any homeowner in need immediately.

About Yapacopia PBC

Yapacopia PBC is a whole new way to shop for and buy insurance. The socially responsible platform gives back to the community by donating 30% of their gross income to charities designated by their customers.  Based in San Francisco, Yapacopia is also a Certified Benefit Corp.  For more, visit https://yapacopia.com/b-corporation/.

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Tibetan Monks of Gaden Shartse Monastery Tour

Sierra Friends of Tibet  |  2018-01-18

PLACER COUNTY, CA (MPG) - Sierra Friends of Tibet Auburn is pleased to announce the return of the Tibetan Monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery's Sacred Earth and Healing Arts Tour February 1 - 11 2018  presented at the General Gomez Arts and Event Center.   

This much anticipated event will provide a full schedule of Tibetan cultural presentations for 10 days giving area residents and visitors a chance to experience firsthand the unique culture of the Tibetan people and the rich traditions of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism.

The events will include the creation of a beautiful sand mandala, carefully constructed over the course of their 10 day visit following ancient Buddhist symbolic designs. Each grain of sand will be carefully laid down by hand using techniques unchanged for millennia. The public will be able to observe and enjoy this moving and meditative process as the monks work .The Gomez center will be open daily for viewing from 10:00 am until 6:00 or 7:00 PM during the course of the monks' visit and dependent on their schedule.

When the mandala is finished,  there will be a special ritual to bless the mandala and mark its completion. Following the blessing the mandala will be ritually dissolved (always a "standing room only" event), highlighting by example the Buddhist view of impermanence.

The sand is then swept up into a pile  and small portions of the sand are offered as gifts to members of the audience. The rest of the sand is taken to a body of water  where after a short ceremony it will be poured into the water as a blessing to purify the environment and all the beings that inhabit it.

Other events will include:

Dharma Teachings

Public Talks

Group and Individual Healings

Workshops and Family Events

Home, Land and Business Blessings 


Please be sure to check the schedule online at www.sierrafriendsoftibet.org

and on the Sierra Friends of Tibet Auburn Facebook page.

For more information call 530-305-1734 or 415-455-9393

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Cinema at the State Theatre presents Dolores

Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center  |  2018-01-18

Thursday, February 1, 2018 ~ Time 7 pm

PLACER COUNTY REGION, CA (MPG) Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized.

Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century—and she continues the fight to this day, at age 87. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother to eleven, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change.

Directed by Peter Bratt, with Co-Producers Brian Benson and Carlos Santana.

“a documentary of exceptional storytelling power.” —CineSource

“energetic, engaging” —Variety

Thursday, February 1, 2018 ~ Time 7 pm

Run Time 1h 35m

General Admission: $8

Location: State Theatre, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn CA

Box Office: www.livefromauburn.com or 530-885-0156 

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Free Tax Help Available Through United Way

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2018-01-16

Diana Clay of United Way California Capital Region helps a local family prepare taxes through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program led locally by United Way. Photo courtesy United Way

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Local households throughout the Sacramento region that earned $54,000 or less in 2017 can receive free tax help in person through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) effort led by United Way California Capital Region with support from Citi Community Development. The program will kick off at the first Super Saturday event on Jan. 27 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Grant Union High School in Sacramento, where IRS-certified volunteers will provide free basic tax return preparation with electronic filing. For more Super Saturday events and weekday sites available during tax season, call (916) 498-1000 or visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/FreeTaxPrep. Sacramento residents can call 2-1-1.

“We want to make sure more Sacramento-area households are financially healthy, and that starts with not spending unnecessary money on tax preparation and making sure they receive all of the refunds to which they are entitled,” said Stephanie Bray, United Way California Capital Region president and CEO.   

Through VITA, the national IRS program that offers free help to people who make a limited income and need help preparing their tax returns, local IRS-certified volunteers will help Sacramento-region households claim tax credits, including federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC and Cal EITC), Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled. This year, more households are eligible to earn up to $6,500 in federal and state Earned Income Tax Credits, including those who are self-employed. Many Cal EITC-eligible households are not legally required to file taxes due to low income, however if they do file, they can claim the state and federal credits for which they are eligible. Those who file for EITC, Cal EITC or Child Tax Credit should plan for their refund to be delayed until Feb. 27. 

“We want to encourage people to plan ahead for this delay instead of using refund advance products that can end up being very costly in the long run,” Bray said. “And don’t pay a preparer if you qualify for free VITA services. You won’t receive your refund sooner.”

Local households that made $66,000 or less in 2017 can file state and federal taxes online for free at MyFreeTaxes.com, sponsored by United Way Worldwide. The site provides households with free tax help they can trust so they can maximize refunds and credits. As with VITA, the site helps people save an average of $200 in preparer fees, guiding users through federal and state filing with software powered by H&R Block. Users need a valid email address, income forms and Adjusted Gross Income from 2017.

Funding support from Citi Community Development will enable United Way California Capital Region to increase capacity and reach of the local VITA program to meet additional need and demand over the next two years. The funding will help expand the number of sites offering free tax preparation and increase the number of volunteer tax preparers. 

“Nearly 20 percent of households in the Sacramento region are living on low incomes, and nearly half lack the savings to sustain an unexpected shock to income,” said Vicki Joseph, Northern California market manager for Citi Community Development. “By expanding access to free tax preparation services, United Way is enabling more families in need to benefit from this vital tax credit and help build their financial resiliency.”

Other sponsors of United Way’s 2018 free tax preparation programs include U.S. Internal Revenue Service, SAFE Credit Union and SMUD. For a list of collaborating partners, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org/VITA

United Way California Capital Region is leading these free tax preparation programs as part of its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of local students who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond. Household financial well-being is a key factor in student success. Through nine decades of work and research across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties, the local United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones for success in college or career. To donate or volunteer, visit YourLocalUnitedWay.org

Citi Community Development leads Citi’s commitment to financial inclusion and economic empowerment for underserved individuals, families and communities across the U.S. Through innovative collaborations with municipalities, community groups and leading nonprofit organizations, the group harnesses Citi’s expertise, products and services to help expand opportunity for all. For more information: CitiCommunityDevelopment.com, @Citi on Twitter, YouTube.com/Citihttp://Blog.Citi.comFacebook.com/Citi and LinkedIn.com/company/citi.  

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State Point Media (MPG) - The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that California's adolescent birth rate continues to decline. In 2015, there were 17.6 births per 1,000 females aged 15-19: a 10 percent decline from the 2014 rate of 19.6 and a 62 percent decline from the 2000 rate of 46.7.

"By empowering young people with the knowledge, tools and resources to make healthy choices, California is succeeding in reducing births among adolescents," said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.

The adolescent birth rate decreased across all racial and ethnic groups between 2000 and 2015. During this time, the adolescent birth rate dropped among Hispanics from 77.3 to 27.0, among African-Americans from 59.1 to 19.7, among Whites from 22.3 to 6.9, and among Asians from 15.0 to 2.9.

Despite declining birth rates, racial disparities persist in adolescent childbearing in California. African-American and Hispanic adolescents were three to four times as likely to give birth as White females. Additionally, the adolescent birth rate varies considerably across counties, from a low of 6.7 in Marin County to a high of 43.1 in Del Norte County.

California has a number of programs aimed at preventing adolescent pregnancy and improving pregnancy outcomes among young women. CDPH funds the Information and Education Program, the Personal Responsibility Education Program authorized through the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and the Adolescent Family Life Program for expectant and parenting adolescents. Also, the state provides no-cost family planning services to eligible men and women, including adolescents, through the Family PACT Program.

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As travel demand decreases after a busy holiday travel season, prices at the pump should decrease as well

Sacramento Region, CA (MPG) - Californians will kick off 2018 with the most expensive gas to begin a year since 2014, according to AAA, but prices are expected to fall in coming weeks as travel demand subsides after a busy holiday travel season.

At $3.10, California’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline today is 33 cents more than drivers paid in January, 2017. At nearly $3.23 per gallon, San Francisco residents are paying the highest prices for gas in Northern California -- 3 cents more than motorists in South Lake Tahoe, which normally tops the charts for the region.

“Last year was a historic travel season, with AAA forecasting record travel numbers for nearly every holiday, but prices historically will drop after the ball drops on New Year’s Eve,” said Michael Blasky, a spokesman for AAA Northern California. “Californians today are paying about 60 cents more than the national average, which AAA attributes to the state’s strong economy, higher taxes on gasoline and stricter environmental regulations."

The last time Californians started a year paying more than $3 for gas was in 2014, when the average price in January of that year was $3.62. Gas prices rose above $4 that summer.

Still, January prices don't always indicate how prices will move throughout a year. Motorists in California paid just $2.55 for regular unleaded gas to begin 2015, but by May were paying above $3.70 per gallon.

Oil prices were more stable in 2017, with prices for a barrel hovering around $50 much of the year. Prices rose late in the year and began 2018 over $60 a barrel, a 2-year high. 

“With global oil producers trying to scale back their production, supply could drop while demand for energy remains high,” Blasky said. “If they’re successful in cutting back oil production, gasoline prices will likely rise as well to meet the demand.”

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