Emerald Triangle Marijuana Cultivation Sparks discussion before Humboldt County Board of Supervisors

Emerald Triangle Marijuana Cultivation Sparks discussion before Humboldt County Board of Supervisors

The $64 question… lingering on every pot growers mind in the Emerald triangle, primarily consists of whether the Humboldt County officials should show their middle finger to the feds, and move forward with an outdoor marijuana cultivation ordinance – or continue to be the lapdogs of the DOJ. This heated topic will no doubt germinate some lively discussion as it goes before the Board of Supervisors this Tuesday.

Staff is asking the board for more direction on the proposed registration program, which is designed to reduce environmental harm from unregulated water withdrawals, dumping and the use of rodenticides at outdoor marijuana grows. The discussion is slated for the afternoon session.

Options being presented to the board include: redirecting resources from ordinance development into “engagement on issues of enforcement and resources,” directing staff to refine specific portions of the ordinance, developing ordinances that target specific issues or areas of the county, redirecting resources to focus on existing harms and developing policy statements regarding potential future legalization, and directing staff to seek additional feedback on the ordinance.

The suggestions were developed from reoccurring themes in the input received at the public hearings and on the county’s online Open Humboldt forum, according to the staff report.

The draft ordinance has several options for registration requirements, and states that the more information the county has about registrants, the easier it will be for the county to determine if a grower is in compliance. That aspect has raised some concerns about whether the federal government will try to access the information.

California voters legalized the use of medical marijuana in 1996 when they passed Proposition 215, but it remains illegal under federal law — creating a difficult legal landscape for government officials attempting to regulate its production and distribution.

In April, Mendocino County officials came to an agreement with the federal government to release records the county keeps under its medical marijuana ordinance, but not the names of the people who applied for permits.

The draft ordinance indicates that registrants would identify water sources, cultivation areas, structures and development used in the grows, and would agree to not mis-use pesticides and rodenticides.

The draft ordinance also lays out alternatives for the size of grows relative to the parcel size.

”The most important elements appeared to us to be setbacks and correlating the number of plants to the size of the parcel in an attempt to balance the interests of the neighbors,” the draft reads.

In other business, the board will consider sending a letter of support for Senate Bill 405, which would prohibit stores with a specific amount of dollar sales or retail space from providing customers with single-use, carry-out bags. The bill, if enacted, would require the stores to provide recycled paper bags, compostable bags or reusable bags with the goal of reducing the environmental impacts of plastic bags.

The board will also consider taking a position on Assembly Bill 468, co-authored by Arcata Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, which would repeal the controversial State Responsibility Area fire fee.