County Counsel Commits Grand Theft, Steals C4 Thunder, Key Recommendations


Members of the Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee met Thursday afternoon in the Board chambers in what was supposed to be a final dress rehearsal for their presentation of preliminary recommendations to the Supervisors on Tuesday. Instead, County Counsel Dana McRae presented a proposed a new chapter to the existing ordinance that would make Santa Cruz one of the first counties in the State to develop a local license for commercial cultivation.

The C4 had come to agreement earlier that the county should permit commercial activity but had struggled with specific language around size and location. They were set to offer recommendations that the Board develop an interim license allowing commercial grows of up to 100 square feet on parcels of at least five acres and to eliminate the restriction that sellers be tied to local dispensaries and drop the 99 plant cap on all grows.

McRae said her office was paying attention to the views being expressed by the Committee. Specifically the switch from plant count to canopy size and lifting the restriction on “in county only” sales were included into the new rules.

Before walking the committee through the 14 page ordinance, Chief Assistant County Counsel Dana Heath stressed that the proposal should be seen as the “foundation and framing of a building” that still needs finishing touches and could be built upon in the future to add more “floors” to address additional licensing categories and concerns.

The new chapter to the County Code would create a “Medical Cannabis Cultivation Licensing Program” (MCCLP) to be administered by a Licensing Officer appointed by and reporting to the County Administrative Officer.

Two categories of commercial cannabis cultivation would be created for the unincorporated areas of the county: A “Cottage Garden License” for up to 200 square feet of canopy and a “Level One Cultivator License” for up to 500 square feet of canopy.

A long list of restrictions would govern the issuance of both licenses and fees charged for applications and licenses would be used to fund and enforce the MCCLP.

McRae and Heath both expressed appreciation for the work of the C4 and indicated they would support an extension of their term to allow the group to consider more policy recommendations regarding other aspects of the business like larger indoor grows, manufacturing, testing and distribution.

After the presentation the C4 voted unanimous support for the new ordinance as a “transitional step” to comply with the new State regulations while reserving the right to offer amendments and new language to encourage compliance and deal with larger commercial activities.

(The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take up the matter at 1:30 on Tuesday, December 8. To comment for the public record you can use the online form by clicking the envelope next to item #59 on the Board Agenda before 8:30am on Tuesday.)

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