On Monday, May 16 the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will take up three items related to cannabis. The county will discuss an urgency ordinance that would make immediate changes to the rules regarding cannabis cultivation. This is the last chance for Mendocino Growers to have regulatory certainty for the 2016 growing season.
Additionally, the county will discuss strategies for taxing medical cannabis and provide direction for the development of a long term ordinance. Tax revenue from cannabis cultivation will be an important source of revenue, generating much needed funds that could be used for a variety of purposes. The development of a permanent will likely take 6 to 9 months before it is finalized.
Significant environmental review is required to establish a local ordinance that regulates cannabis as agriculture. “Following the passage of landmark legislation last year, many counties and cities through the state are reviewing and amending their local policies to ensure consistency with state law and provide the most effective regulations for local growers,” said Hezekiah Allen, Executive Director of the California Growers. “Mendocino County has long been a leader in cannabis cultivation policy so it comes as no surprise that Mendocino would be one of the first to take steps toward implementation of the new state laws despite significant procedural and policy challenges."
While there is broad based support in the community for regulation as agriculture, the urgency ordinance—which will be the law land for 2016 if it is passed on Monday—fails to entirely transition make the transition to agriculture. The urgency ordinance instead is focussed on protecting environmental health. It is a first step in turning the corner on widespread unregulated agriculture.
Casey O’Neill, Chair of the Mendocino County Chapter of the California Growers Association explained: “This has been a difficult process with much give and take. We applaud the willingness of our local policy makers to go to bat for the good of our communities. With proposed amendments the urgency ordinance is a workable bridge for this year as we work together to develop the full ordinance for next year.”
A coalition of advocacy groups, including the California Growers Association, the Mendocino Heritage Initiative and the Small Farmers Association have offered their support for the ordinance and have proposed 4 amendments. Supporters say these amendments are meant to provide maximum impact and will ensure the broadest possible participation. Community members are being encouraged to express their support for the ordinance and these amendments and have launched an online petition and will hold a rally prior to the supervisors meeting on Monday.
Julia Carerra of the Small Farmers Association of the Small Farmers Association summed things up: ""The time has come for all of Mendocino County to be working together for the good of our community...and lead the nation in small craft artisan farms! Now let's get to farming while we work together on a permanent ordinance."
The Board of Supervisors meets on Monday, May 16 in Ukiah. You can get more information here.