MENDOCINO Co., 12/6/20 — Mendocino County’s cannabis cultivation ordinance, which establishes the requirements for permitted county cannabis farms, has been the source of much debate, concern, and amendments over the last several years, while regulatory changes have also occurred on the state level, which provide a second permit to farmers. This week, the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will be taking up several cannabis-related issues during the regular board meeting on December 8, and then the Cannabis Cultivation Ad Hoc Committee will host a virtual town hall meeting concerning cannabis cultivation at 4 p.m. on December 16 (rescheduled from December 9).
This week, the supervisors will consider classifying cannabis cultivation as agriculture — one area around which there has been regulatory vagaries, as the cultivation permitting program was initially overseen by the county’s ag commissioner and is in part regulated by the California Department of Food & Ag (CDFA), although key differences in requirements remain. The supervisors’ will also discuss a number of proposed changes to the current cultivation ordinance.
You can submit public comment in advance, and also attend the meeting virtually beginning at 9 a.m. on December 8 — the full agenda can be found here, and you can submit public comment here. The virtual town hall will take place via Zoom at 4 p.m. on December 16, and include Supervisors Haschak and Williams, as well as staff from Mendocino County’s Planning & Building Department, as well as an opportunity for questions (see details below).
Much of the initial ordinance was designed to protect “heritage” small farmers, but regulatory road blocks and changes have resulted in confusion around environmental requirements, taxes, building codes, and how cannabis is regulated compared to other agricultural industries — some of which remains unresolved.
The majority of the approximately 1,000 applicants to the Mendocino County cultivation permit program, after several years since submitting applications, have not received temporary approval from the county, and only a few have received final permit approval from the state. Applications are currently closed, but phase three of the cultivation permit is set to open up this year, which will allow much larger cultivation sites and less ownership restrictions than in the first two phases of applications.
Whether cannabis cultivation is considered agriculture has been a topic of debate from a regulatory standpoint for a number of years — as have a number of different issues related to the current cultivation permitting program. Mendocino County first included cannabis in agricultural industry reports in the 1970s, and the permitting program established by the state in 2015 involves the CDFA, as well as county agriculture departments.
However, there are a number of regulatory differences between cannabis farms and other agricultural sectors, such as on the federal levels, which play out regarding enforcement, building and labor codes, taxes, organic certifications, and other factors which have caused controversy on the ground, especially for farmers who grow both cannabis and row crops, or those that see disparities between the burden of environmental compliance for cannabis farmers as compared to vineyard owners. The town hall meeting was held in January; you can watch the full video here.
Here’s the announcement about the town hall from the county, below. The Board of Supervisors meeting will be live-streamed on the county’s Facebook and Youtube pages. Please note: As of December 7, the town hall has been rescheduled to December 16 at 4 p.m., but the meeting link remains the same.
Cannabis Ad Hoc to Host Cannabis Cultivation Virtual Town Hall
On Wednesday, December 9th at 4:00 pm, the Board of Supervisors Cannabis Cultivation Ad Hoc Committee consisting of Supervisors John Haschak and Ted Williams will host a virtual Cannabis Cultivation Town Hall Meeting. The Supervisors will give an update on their current efforts with State agencies and provide an opportunity for the public to participate by asking questions and providing public comment.
Virtual Town Hall Details:
What: Cannabis Cultivation Virtual Town Hall
When: Wednesday, December 9, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Who: Mendocino County Board of Supervisors John Haschak and Ted Williams Planning and Building Services Director, Brent Schultz
Planning and Building Services Staff
How to attend:
To join via Zoom, click the link: https://mendocinocounty.zoom.us/j/89835755017 To join via phone, dial: +1 669 900 9128 and enter the webinar ID: 898 3575 5017
The webinar will also be streaming live on the County’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/mendocinocountyvideo) and the County’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/mendocinocounty/).
How to submit your questions and comments:
There will be a live Q & A feature on the webinar where you can submit your question live during the event.
For more information, please contact Mendocino County Planning and Building Services Cannabis Program at (707) 234-6680.