County Cannabis Committee to Discuss Local Licensing at Tues Meeting


The Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) will consider local licensing as a way to bring county regulations into line with new state laws as they hold their 7th meeting on Tues, 9am at the Simpkins Center.

At their last meeting the committee voted to begin discussing licensing as specific policy they might recommend the Board of Supervisors consider.  The committee agreed to push back or eliminate some additional planned presentations from outside experts and county staff in order to begin substantive discussions.

Currently all commercial cannabis cultivation is illegal in Santa Cruz County.  Some protection from prosecution exists for growers who abide by a list of restrictions.  In Sacramento new legislation has been signed that will provide growers as well as other commercial cannabis operations with state issued licenses.  Local jurisdictions can still be the ultimate arbiters as they can ban or enforce more stringent regulations than the state has prescribed.

At last Tuesday’s meeting County Consultant Eric Olsen, set the stage with his now familiar “Context for Conversation” slide shows.

He asked committee members to consider whether existing agricultural regulations are sufficient or whether there might be reasons to impose additional requirements.  He provided a list of “potential concerns” including these

  • Land conversion
  • Grading
  • Electricity usage
  • Water usage, quality, & agricultural discharges
  • Woodland & riparian habitat protection, etc.
  • Pesticide, chemical, & worker safety
  • Seed to sale traceability
  • Cannabis is a drug
  • Youth & neighborhood protection
  • High value cash business = increased risk?
  • Diversion into black market
  • Go slow: New county standards could encourage gold rush
  • Regulatory capacity

He told the group that their initial focus should be on cultivation and offered these questions as a suggested framework for policy development:

  • What types of cultivation should be licensed? E.g. indoor, outdoor, greenhouses
  • How much should licensees be allowed to grow?
  • Who should be eligible for licenses?
  • In what parts of the county?
  • Under what conditions?

The group then heard a presentation from Kristen Nevedahl, a Humboldt County mom and gardener who is the director of Patient Focused Certification a national project of the Americans for Safe Access Foundation. Nevedahl’s presentation focused on the difference between regulations on the number of plants vs canopy size. She also showed how efficient outdoor operations can reduce water requirements and have a much lower carbon footprint than indoor grows.

Nevedahl advocated for education and training for growers, processors, and regulators.
The official notes of the meeting have not yet been published but the meeting also included the conclusion of a presentation by the industry reps on the committee as well as discussions about the allocation of Measure K funds.

Reporting back on a committee request regarding what action the county was taking regarding aligning with the new state law, Susan Pearlman said that Supervisor Leopold was drafting a letter to the County Counsel.

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