California voters are likely to approve the November 2016 ballot initiative to legalize recreational cannabis use for those 21 and over. When they do, the initiative will likely provide state licensing of commercial cannabis enterprises. The impact on cultivating counties like Humboldt will be nothing short of revolutionary.
Suddenly, the cannabis cultivating community, which has largely been ignored until now, will be subject to regulations like those found in other agricultural regions. But what will those regulations look like? And how will the county make that transition?
Cultivators Can Have a Voice
California Cannabis Voice (CCV) represents the political arm of the cannabis community, specifically those ready to participate in the political process. It has both a PAC and a 501(c)(4), trade-association component. Professionally-staffed and with a strong presence statewide but particularly in Humboldt, CCV is working to answer those questions and influencing the tone, tenor and substance of the coming regulations.
CCV listened to cultivators and drafted guiding principles for legalization. When, for example, the California Assembly considered passing regulations for medical cannabis in 2014, CCV worked hard to kill the bill (SB 1262). Why? The bill lacked internal logic, had an unreasonably anti-cannabis tone and failed to meet most of CCV’s basic principles.
CCV then reached out to the non-cannabis community in Humboldt and invited a dialogue.
Humboldt Can Be Ready for 2016
Matt Kumin will speak at the 1st annual Golden Tarp Award on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014 at 12:30 p.m. in Redway, CA.
The statewide initiative that large drug reform groups will draft, finance and place on the ballot will likely include many of the principles CCV espouses, including non-discriminatory access to licenses, reasonable fees and a fair enforcement mechanism. Much of what happens to Humboldt’s cultivating community will be determined by local zoning and agriculturally-focused regulations.
Water use and storage, penalties for improper water diversion, appropriate enforcement, and incentives for sustainable practices (along with fee-funded, local programs to assist development of sustainable practices) will be encouraged in any local regulations.
Think grape and wine-making regions and you’ll have a better idea how all of this will eventually look.
Local Stakeholders to Draft Humboldt Regulations
Whether Humboldt can succeed in this transition – from an economy based on a black market crop to one based on a legal crop – will depend largely on the current community members. CCV is hosting an event at the Wharfinger Conference Center in October that will include the major stakeholder groups in the county: business, government, cannabis, environment, and medical/patient.
There, professional facilitators will help the groups reach consensus and determine how they want to move forward with regulations. Professional drafters will take the ideas generated and put them into an initiative format. That draft will then be circulated and filed with the Elections Office. The Board of Supervisors will then have a choice – adopt it as law or leave it to a public vote.
The choices for the county are now relatively clear – continue to largely ignore the cannabis community or embrace and integrate it into its economic, social, political and environmental life and values.
As published in the North Coast Journal special section Sept. 11, 2014.