Concerns in Emma about the stench, not the plant |

Concerns in Emma about the stench, not the plant

In response to Scott Condon’s recent article, I clarify that the neighbors in this residential/agricultural zoned area are not discussing hemp growing in historic Emma in terms of good or bad (“Emma’s great hemp debate has Pitkin County pondering new rules,” March 19, The Aspen Times). Our lives are being negatively impacted by the smell of cannabis.

Homes surrounding the SIRH hemp operation are single family residences (many of them 30-plus years old) on lots from 1 to 200-plus acres. Hay production, horse pastures, riding facilities, cow-calf operations, vegetables, chickens and goats have been here since the 1800s. The residents in the Emma Caucus wrote a master plan, at the request of the county, to define and preserve that character.

The conversion last year of previous hay/horse pasture into industrial hemp came as a surprise to all of us. The operator, Rafael Fasi, the son-in-law of landowner Greg Mackey, told me last spring that he grows hundreds of acres of cannabis in the Silt/Rifle area. It makes no sense to grow hemp right here.

Yes, the hemp is right next to my property. At 10 years, I am one of the newer residents of Emma. I moved to Aspen in 1990, worked hard, saved my money and waited years to buy the home of my dreams and land to farm.

Seven thousand cannabis sativa L. (hemp) clones were planted on about 2.5 acres of land, not 25 feet from my home. The smell was devastating. I could not sit on my patio. Irrigating my front pasture I felt nauseous and short of breath. I could not open my bedroom window to the cool night breezes. The neighbors across the street and all around suffered also. We have documentation that the ground level ozone created by Cannabis plants far exceeds the EPA’s acceptable level and is harmful to human respiratory health.

The issue is about the appropriateness of growing hemp in a residential area, causing demonstrable health effects, loss of our property rights and use of our properties, and an undoubtable drop in property values due to the stench. It is unconscionable that anyone would consider the rights of a one-year hemp grower more important than the rights of hundreds of property owners.

Cathy Markle


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