After many years of whistling innocently while looking the other way, Humboldt County is on track to adopt a land use ordinance that would regulate cannabis farms in a way that fits within the upcoming California medical cannabis framework. The Humboldt Planning Commission voted 5-1 to approve this draft recently, but the letter it is being sent with to the Humboldt County Supervisors is worth a read and shown below (you can also download it here).
The next step? The Humboldt Supervisors will have to review it, take public comment, and approve some version of it (or not).
Leading up to this, there have been meetings upon meetings. Farmers, community members, respected business owners, advocates, environmentalists and more have given input in the public process on how this industry should be regulated. And these individuals did so in the eyes of their community, on record.
That’s no small thing. Cannabis has been a taboo topic most only whispered about, even in Humboldt. To suggest anything but banning it or ignoring it was a radical notion met with eye rolls only a few years ago. The national conversation on cannabis has been changing, and so too has the local conversation. As someone involved in pushing the conversation forward in California, I recognize there is much to be done on every level in every county. Considering what we’ve accomplished as a community in a short amount of time, imagine that trajectory if we just don’t stop pushing forward.
But keeping that trajectory won’t be easy. The most important element in this conversation moving forward is unity. Just now in sight for the cannabis community is a major goalpost, but we aren’t going to reach it intact if we try to bury everyone else who’s headed that direction.
That’s my 2 cents, anyway. Below is the letter from the planning commission and below that the email I received with it from the Planning Commission (I was on their list because I submitted a comment during the public process). It’s not all confetti and roses, particularly the minority letter of dissent. Plus if you missed the link earlier, here’s the ordinance draft. Take a look and leave your comments on this and how regulation is being handled where you live.
Email from Steve Lazar
Subject: MMLUO Update | Final version of PC revised draft now available
As promised, attached you will find a finalized version of the Planning Commission draft, reflecting the changes made during the commission’s review and deliberation on the ordinance during the past month.
We are also including as an attachment a letter prepared by the chairman Robert Morris, with the support of the Planning Commission, intended to accompany transmittal of the revised ordinance to the Board of Supervisors, as well as a letter written by Commissioner Noah Levy to the Board, documenting and describing his decision to vote against recommending adoption of the ordinance in its current revised form. Both letters outline themes and important policy debates which occurred during the commission’s considerable deliberation and review of this matter.
This debate is also reflected in the public comments received thus far, which we are working to compile and will be posting electronically to the website once completed. If you are receiving this email, you have either inquired about, provided feedback, or expressed interest in the draft ordinance and Medical Marijuana related matters. We thank all of you for your continued dedication, thoughtful participation, and support. We look forward to continued public collaboration and discourse in the critical weeks ahead.
Subject: MMLUO Update [12/7/15] – PC recommend approval of draft ordinance | BOS Mtg. tomorrow to review registration proposal
As many of you know, last Thursday the Planning Commission completed their review of the Phase IV Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance, voting 5-1 in favor of recommending that the Board approve the revised draft of the ordinance that was refined during the 10 public hearings held between November 5th and December 3rd, where the Commission reviewed the initial draft ordinance and directed staff to perform changes.
The Commission’s revisions track with many of the ordinance provisions outlined in the matrix of policy themes that was prepared and presented during their initial review. These include: clarifying and refining the zones where indoor and outdoor cultivation will be permitted, adjusting many of the cultivation limits and discretionary permit triggers to incentivize compliance and participation by existing operators, and providing a mechanism for provisional licensing and confining after-the-fact permitting to structures and activities associated with the cultivation operation (not residences or unrelated accessory structures). The Commission also chose to incorporate provisions for nurseries and manufacturing facilities into the ordinance, and developed policies and performance standards related to water forbearance, generator use, and mixed light cultivation. Staff is working to finalize the planning commission’s draft and will be circulating it soon for public review, in anticipation of delivery to the Board of Supervisors at their December 15th meeting. Look for a follow up email later this week with a copy of the final PC draft as well as a link to its posting on the county website.
Additionally, please be advised: tomorrow (Dec. 8) the Board of Supervisors will be reviewing a resolution to establish a registration program for individuals and entities interested in securing future local and state licensing and authorization for medical cannabis-related land use activities, consistent with the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA).
I encourage you to familiarize yourself with this agenda item (link below):