Pot growers introduce draft ordinance; proposed regulations would govern outdoor grows
Thadeus Greenson/The Times-Standard
Posted: 10/14/2010 01:24:27 AM PDT
Before a panel of experts and a host of high-ranking Humboldt County officials, the Humboldt Growers Association unveiled its proposed medical cannabis cultivation ordinance on Wednesday.
Proponents of the proposed ordinance say it would be a huge step toward protecting one of the county's primary industries and could also potentially bring in millions of dollars in revenue to the county.
?The cannabis industry in this county is as important as the fishing and timber industries were, and we don't want to see it suffer the same fate,? said HGA board member Joey Burger.
Wednesday's workshop -- titled ?Leading the Way: Humboldt County and the New Economy,? sponsored by Humboldt County 4th District Supervisor Bonnie Neely and presented by the five-memberHumboldt Growers Association -- featured a panel discussion with some local officials and industry experts and culminated with the group unveiling its proposed ordinance.
While it would only govern the growing of medical marijuana, Burger said HGA's proposed ordinance would be easily convertible to a larger marijuana industry if the law changes.
As proposed, the ordinance would regulate outdoor marijuana grows with canopy areas larger than 100 square feet through a permitting process that lays out requirements for both applicants and farms.
According to the proposed ordinance, applicants would have to be at least 21 years old, a resident of the county for at least two
years and not have any violent crime convictions on their record.
In order to get a permit under the proposed ordinance, applicants would have to submit to site inspections, estimate water usage and a water source for the garden and provide proof of land ownership. The permits would be up for renewal every year and would allow the cultivation of not more than 40,000 square feet of canopy space, an area roughly equivalent to one acre.
No permits would be issued to allow larger gardens and, while growers could obtain multiple permits, the sum total of their garden space could not exceed 40,000 square feet. Permit holders would also be required to provide access to their cultivation sites and water resources to inspectors at all times.
The permits would also come with fees, which could pad county coffers, according to some.
Under the proposed ordinance, the county would charge a nonrefundable $1,000 fee for applicants looking to grow on less than 400 square feet and $2,500 for larger spaces. If approved, permits would cost $800 for spaces ranging from 101 to 400 square feet and $800 for each additional 400 square feet of grow space. Permits for spaces smaller than 100 square feet would be free.
Under the ordinance, a permit for a quarter-acre garden site would cost $20,000.
Max Del Real, a medical cannabis lobbyist with California Capitol Solutions, estimated that if the county issues 500 permits for quarter-acre sites, it would bring in $10 million annually.
?This is real revenue, people,? said Del Real.
Burger said he grew up in Humboldt County and has seen growers support volunteer fire departments and hospice centers. Now, they want to help fund schools, roads and local law enforcement.
Others on the panel spoke of the need of the county to be proactive on a changing landscape with state voters possibly poised to legalize marijuana in November. They said the county needs to take advantage of its already robust brand name, and envisioned a time when cannabis-related tourism would thrive, and the county would be flush with tasting rooms and farm tours.
?Humboldt County has an international name, and it's synonymous with the finest outdoor cannabis on the market,? said Kristin Nevedal of the Cannabis Certification Company Inc.