Nearing the midnight hour on Friday, Sept. 11, the California legislature reached agreement on a three-bill package that will provide a licensing and regulatory framework for medical marijuana. Given the down-to-the-wire deal came together with unprecedented attention from Governor Brown’s office, the bills are expected to be signed into law by mid-October.
The comprehensive legislation seeks to regulate medical weed from seed to smoke—arguably something that should have been crafted as part of Proposition 215 nearly 20 years ago. While the rule package will likely provide a much higher bar for environmental oversight of cultivation activities, the negotiations were not without significant casualties. Asseblymember Jim Wood’s broadly supported language for a statewide excise tax that would have provided funds for increased enforcement, mitigation and environmental restoration got axed at the 11th hour.
Given the complexities at play, we know that any rule package is not going to be perfect. At the very least, the legislation sets the stage for local jurisdictions to impose their own regulations—and their own taxes.
With the backdrop of new rules moving forward in Sacramento, on Tuesday, Sept 15, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors finally did what they had been reluctant to do for nearly a year: take leadership on an ordinance for outdoor cannabis cultivation. After nearly 10 months of public comments, op-eds and action alerts demanding that our Supervisors stop deferring to an industry group to write their own rules, the Board passed a motion directing staff to draft a cultivation ordinance and, if necessary, bring other county medical marijuana ordinances into compliance with state legislation. We applaud our representatives for their unanimous decision to take the reins from California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH) and move forward a public process. We are further encouraged that all Supervisors expressed a desire to enact a county framework that would be more protective than what the state may allow.
Community input up to this point has been crucial in providing the pressure necessary to convince the Board that a true public process is the best route forward. Thanks to all who took the time to submit comments or contact the Supervisors directly. It is going to be imperative that our community stands ready for review and comment on the County’s draft ordinance so that we can finally get a handle on the Green Rush that is doing serious damage to our communities, forests and watersheds.