By KIM VAN METER
Special To The Leader
Medallion Farms, a commercial cannabis cultivating and processing operation currently applying for a use permit and development agreement from the Stanislaus County Department of Planning and Community Development, met with concerned Valley Home residents Tuesday, May 7 in the hopes of allaying fears with education but met with a solid wall of opposition.
According to documents, the Lon-Dale Road project would construct six greenhouse buildings, 5,554 square feet each, for cultivation and a 3,984 square foot processing building, which totals 37,248 square feet of building space. The processing building would include rooms for drying, curing processing, packaging, secure transfer, waste destruction, safe room and cold storage. The processing building would also include administrative space.
Zach Drivon of Drivon Consulting, acting as Medallion Farms spokesperson, brought a slideshow for the people to show Medallion Farms and owner, Michael O’Leery plans to safely and responsibly become a caretaker of the community but asked one thing, “Give us a chance to prove ourselves,” Drivon said. “It’s our intent to show you that we are night and day between the illegal operations.”
But bad timing might’ve left a sour taste in people’s mouths as the recent bust of an illegal marijuana crop in the area was fresh as was the ongoing thefts that many have attributed to drug activity.
One man used the time to grouse about the Sheriff Department’s response time on unrelated issues; other people stood up to voice their concerns about the proposed water usage, which they feared would put an unnecessary toll on the underground water table, others wanted to know how the operation might affect property values.
However, with each concern, Drivon was quick to offer calm answers, even if the assembled residents were still opposed to the operation.
“It’s not our intent to run roughshod over your community,” Drivon said. “Just give us a shot to prove ourselves.”
One of the top concerns Drivon was quick to point out about security was that there would be zero public access to the facility, 24/7 security guards, surveillance cameras on the exterior, perimeter fencing, and a panic button that connects directly to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. A representative from the Sheriff’s Department was on hand to answer any security questions that people may have. As required by the state, all legal cannabis operations must have security operations signed off by the Department of Justice.
They also have plans for odor control, state-of-the-art exhaust fans with misting vapors and industrial carbon filters.
While many of the people who took the opportunity to speak were against the project, one in particular offered a different perspective.
Ray Krieger, a Valley Home resident and father of five, said, “Cannabis isn’t going away. If I have a choice of whether to deal with someone like Mr. O’Leery or the people running the illegal operations, I’m going with Mr. O’Leery. He cares about people.” Krieger shared that he wasn’t a marijuana user and started off with the same bias as everyone else in that room but then he visited another Medallion Farm facility and his views changed. “They run a good operation. If it’s going to be anyone, I’d want it to be someone like him.”
A final decision has not yet been rendered on the applicant.