WILLITS, 3/13/19 — The Mendocino County Department of Agriculture has put out a brief survey asking people what they think about the possibility of hemp cultivation in our fair cannabis cultivating county. There is currently, a 45 day moratorium on industrial hemp farming in Mendocino County which was put in place by the Board of Supervisors through an urgency ordinance on February 26.
The survey is part of a broad outreach and listening program on the part of the county, to gather input concerning the various cannabis regulations that are currently being formulated and finalized. The survey is brief, five questions, and asks about the value or disadvantages of hemp to our local economy.
Due to changes in federal regulation of industrial hemp passed in the 2018 federal Farm Bill, the issue of hemp farming has come up at several 2019 Board of Supervisors meetings, especially regarding the possible danger of cross-pollination with cannabis farms.
On February 26 the Supes unanimously passed an urgency ordinance placing a 45 day moratorium on the growing of hemp. They did this pending further research and feedback on the current state of regulations and impacts to the local cannabis industry. Sited in the urgency ordinances were land-use and cross-pollination, as well as new pests, as causes of concern. The Department of Planning and Building is in the process of preparing a report.
During the discussion, the county’s cannabis program manager Sean Connell recommended a “planning moratorium,” noting many other counties were planning similar delays on industrial hemp growing. During the meeting members of the public expressed ambivalence, citing concerns about cross-pollination, as well as excitement about the possibilities of the crop. Devon Jones of the Mendocino Farm Bureau said the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Advisory Board may release guidance on hemp growing within the state in April.
Although the motion was unanimously approved as written, Supervisor Ted Williams recommended allowing a small number of hemp plants as a personal or non commercial exemption, to protect the small farms but allow for exploration of the industrial uses of hemp such as paper and “hempcrete;” Supervisor Dan Gjerde pointed out “some people are more excited” about the potential of hemp than cannabis. Supervisor Carre Brown noted hemp could make beautiful fabric, but expressed support for waiting for further guidance from the state.