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Marijuana Measures May Save Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Farmers

HALF MOON BAY (KPIX 5) -- Half Moon Bay pumpkin farmers struggling to keep afloat could soon turn to the marijuana industry. Residents are set to vote on five different cannabis regulations in November, one would allow farmers to grow in existing greenhouses.

It may not look like it at first, but Mayor Deborah Penrose says these five ballot measures on cannabis represent slow, thoughtful, methodical change.

"We can't make that happen overnight," said Penrose. "And so we have got to listen to the public. And the public sometimes takes a long time to tell you what it is that they really want."

The mayor says the first one, Measure AA, is a no-brainer. It would impose taxes on everything from the cultivation to the retail sale of marijuana.

The other one getting a lot of attention is Measure GG, which would allow farmers to convert existing greenhouse nursery space to grow only young, immature cannabis plants.

The measure would only affect two farms, including Schickenberg Nursery, and would limit the size of each to 60,000 square feet.

If Measure GG passes, that would introduce a total of 120,000 square feet of marijuana growing space generating about $64,000 in new revenue - and boost the cities $6 million annual budget by about one percent.

"Our farmers are desperate," said Penrose. "The death of the floral industry here on the coast has really hurt them, so they've got to look for another product to produce."

John Muller, a third-generation farmer in half Moon Bay, supports measure GG. Farmer John says he can't survive on selling pumpkins two months out of the year.

"And I think it's very important for us to find a crop that could produce a little more profit for us to stay in agriculture," said Muller.

The other three measures are advisory votes only. If they pass, they would direct the City Council to look into the opening of stores, manufacturing of marijuana goods, and the growing of adult plants.

Half Moon Bay real estate broker Glen Mitchell says, no thanks. "I technically think it's sad if the town, If that's the best thing they can come up with to make money," said Mitchell. "I think there are plenty of other options out there."

As far as marijuana replacing pumpkins? "We are the pumpkin capital of the world," said Penrose. "We will never lose our pumpkins."

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