Meet Matthew Owen 4th Ward Candidate Eureka

Matthew Owen

Eureka 4th Ward

Do you support the growth of cannabis industries in your city? Please explain specific policies that you support or oppose.

The vast majority of Eureka’s commercial buildings purchased or leased over the past 18 months were to the cannabis industry. Regardless of your feelings toward cannabis, it’s legal in California and these businesses are licensed, permitted and taxed. Now that these cannabis entrepreneurs are legitimate business owners, we should be embracing them in our business community. Whether it’s Eddy Alexander, the city’s marketing arm, the Eureka Chamber of Commerce or Humboldt Made we should be promoting our local cannabis industry. Welcome to the club! In turn, I would like to see our local cannabis industry get involved in our local community by joining our local civic clubs, such as Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Soroptomists, Lions Club, etc. Also there are over 600 local charities that could use their support as board members, volunteers and/or donors.

Are there segments of the cannabis supply chain—cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution, retail—that you want to see more of, or less of, in your city? Explain.

The major complaint I’ve heard from other cities regarding cannabis cultivation is the smell. No one likes skunk next door to their home or business. Currently the City of Eureka has many cannabis manufacturing facilities that the average person doesn’t even know about. Same with testing and distribution sites around town. The issue with retail cannabis dispensaries is the same argument one gets with liquor stores. How many is enough? While the market should be able to tell you how many cannabis dispensaries are needed in our town, we don’t need cannabis dispensaries on every corner.

What positions did you take on cannabis, if any, during the war on drugs…think 1970 into the 21st Century? Have those views evolved over time, how and when?

I've been a strong supporter for the legalization of cannabis. The 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and prohibition were failures. All they did were to help create the mafia. The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution legalized alcohol by taxing, regulating and controlling the sale of alcohol. If elected, I will be a strong voice for the taxing, regulating and controlling of cannabis.

What do you know about the dozens of cannabis businesses that have located in your city since 2016? How many businesses are there? How many jobs? How much paid in permits and fees?

Per the Interim Eureka City Manager, Eureka now has over 70 cannabis businesses that have created over 200 jobs and have paid over $850,000 in permitting fees and licenses.

Do you support a city-based excise tax on cannabis? If so, under what circumstances, on which activities, how much and on what basis (sales, square footage, etc)?

Even though we now pay an excise tax on cigarettes, I would be against an excise tax on cannabis as we need to bring in more of the industry into the legitimate side versus the underground players.

How would you make resources more available to cannabis businesses since they are often precluded from relief and other opportunities provided to other small businesses, such as federally-funded assistance?

This is a trick question. The Eureka City Council will have zero effect on federal issues outside of a “letter of support” for the cannabis industry. The number one issue the cannabis industry is facing is banking. It’s a public safety issue with so many cannabis businesses having to deal in cash only. This creates opportunity for bad players who want to steal that cash. I would like to see a state sponsored cannabis credit union to get around the federal guidelines.

How do you envision the future of cannabis in your city, and in Humboldt County more broadly?

I would like to see cannabis as a typical business industry segment. Humboldt County now has craft brewers, vintners, ciders, alcohol spirits, coffee, bagels and chocolates. So let’s add cannabis to the mix of business industries.

Do you currently, or have you enjoyed/consumed cannabis?

Minimal, not my cup of tea. However there’s not many of my family and friends who don’t enjoy cannabis.

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