Jason Ingram is a proud local volunteer first responder out in Doyle. He is also a cannabis farmer, who owns maintains a 250-sq/ft plot to provide medicinal cannabis to a select few patients to treat their ailments including those with stage 4 cancer and even local veterans with PTSD.
With the Lassen County Board of Supervisors passing a commercial medicinal cannabis business tax onto the voters in November, Ingram is going all-in with supporting the measure.
Ingram talked about his many concerns and beliefs surrounding cannabis to the Times. He spoke of its alleged potential benefits, both as a medicine and as a source of revenue for the county.
Ingram said, “If we can get this money coming in, some of it can be allotted to public safety.”
Ingram made a point to project his concern with the current and future limitations of the county’s public safety officers and spoke of their stretched resources. He said, “Without money or resources, the public isn’t safe.”
A frequent face at their meetings, Ingram has been working alongside the BOS for several years to lend his voice to the cause. During his interview, Ingram gave praise at multiple opportunities to the BOS, with special regard to David Teeter and Chris Gallagher, who form the county’s ad-hoc committee on cannabis. Ingram called Teeter and Gallagher the “saving grace” of what he called “safe access to life-saving medicine.”
“I didn’t follow politics until this bumpy ride started in 2014 … with the county’s outright ban, even for those growing their personal medicine.” Ingram said.
“This has been a long road,” Ingram chuckled a little, “Last year, we got some of the cattle guys involved … the ranchers wanted to know how many licenses the locals were wanting to obtain, because they were willing to entertain 40 to 50 licenses, as long as it’s not in the rancher’s faces.
“A good majority of ranchers are anti tax and anti cannabis,” Ingram turned, his voice changing to a more serious tone, “however, they’re also sick of … these big illegal growers buying the property cheap next to them and … poisoning the water and breaking all of these environmental regulations, it’s horrible.”
Ingram believes the long-standing black market for cannabis “won’t last” with the incoming regulated market taking over throughout the state. However, he expressed concern over California’s revenue shortfalls from cannabis, saying, “California is so far behind on their projected numbers of revenue from cannabis, that it’s ridiculous.”
Ingram pointed to the state of Nevada, and said, “If you look over to our neighbors, Nevada did more than 10 percent more than they estimated for their first annual fiscal numbers.”
However, Ingram, although a advocate and cannabis farmer, said, “From a local grower’s perspective, I don’t want to see the landscape change” in the community and would “rather not have a dispensary on Main Street.” Ingram expressed his “want to be clear” and said he “wants to keep Lassen beautiful,” and “some of the ranchers in the area, including me, don’t want to see 10 acres of weed growing next to my fence. I’ve got kids, and I raise a family around here. I don’t want that.”
Ingram said, “I really hope the general public doesn’t think that’s what is going to happen. Rest assured, I am sure our board would never let that happen. They’ve already voiced their thoughts. They don’t want to do big grows. They’d like maybe 5,000 to maybe a 10,000 square foot (grow operation).”
Ingram admitted he doesn’t think the proposal from the BOS is perfect and expressed his many concerns regarding the bill’s lack of language for different licenses, percentages of local vs. out-of-county growers, manufacturers, distributors and testing facilities. Ingram was also perplexed with the proposal’s clarity surrounding projected revenues.
Ingram said, “Every other (cannabis initiative) I’ve seen has some sort of projected revenues included in its language, and I didn’t see any in this one.”
While Ingram says the cannabis business tax “stands a shot of succeeding,” he expressed concern, as other counties have been very close to passing their measures, but have failed.
Ingram said, “Sierra County had a cannabis initiative recently on the ballot and it lost by 50 votes … that’s why it’s so important for people to come out and vote; if we also lose by 50 votes, that’s it, cannabis is over with, and there’s no safe access for any medicinal patients.”
Ingram said he had talked to the Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growden and discovered “deliveries from a licensed delivery person, is legal to do in Lassen County, but none of our neighboring counties have delivery people, so it’s not like we’re going to get a delivery guy from Yolo County to drive clear up to Lassen.”
Ingram spoke about his personal experiences as one who provides cannabis to patients. He also referenced a 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which shows the largest growing age demographic of cannabis consumers are those 55 and over.
Ingram said his experience matches these findings and said he has seen these people coming around to the idea of using cannabis as medicine.
Ingram says, “I’ve seen it save people’s lives firsthand.”
He again referenced local residents, and he said, “A lot of them are coming around. Some of them have a family member who was cured from cancer … and you’ll believe after you’ve seen it firsthand.”
Ingram said, “Crime in every county and state which has had a dispensary show up, has seen a decrease in crime. Its effect on the opioid epidemic is also unreal. The way it’s changing lives is by having the dispensary available for people to walk in and talk to a professional and experienced budtender to understand dosages. Dosage is key.
There’s also the fact that no one has ever overdosed with cannabis, but I’ve seen someone personally whose been cured of stage 4 cancer.”
He weighed the chances of the bill’s passing in November, saying, “I don’t think it’s going to work without the younger people getting registered to vote. Without voter participation, I don’t think it’ll pass.”
According to the May 21 report by the Secretary of State California, Ingram has a large hill to climb in Lassen County. The report shows only 8.43 percent of voters between the ages of 17.5 to 25 are registered. Of those between the ages of 26 and 35, only 14.82 percent are registered to vote, making the two age groups two out of the three lowest age groups registered within the county.
Ingram holds so much conviction for its passing that he says he has, “a voter registration stack on the dashboard of my truck, and pass them around.”
He tells people, “The beauty of a regulated market, is that after you’ve seen it work for people, you won’t want to go back.”