Cannabis the Focus of CSAC Regional Meeting
California County Officials Gather in Humboldt County
June 29, 2017
Today’s meeting gave county officials an opportunity to learn from one another and hear from the industry about the challenges and opportunities of developing an entirely new regulatory framework for a newly legalized commodity.
Panel presentations and discussions throughout the day focused on a regional perspective on cannabis cultivation and a local regulatory framework, environmental considerations, and working with the cannabis industry. Panelists included county supervisors and staff, growers and state officials, bringing a wide variety of perspectives to the meeting.
“Cannabis comes with a once-in–a-generation responsibility and opportunity to develop an entirely new state and local policy area,” said CSAC Second Vice President and Humboldt County Supervisor Virginia Bass. “No matter the size or location of one of our counties, we are all facing challenges surrounding cannabis. For county supervisors from throughout California to come together and learn from each other is invaluable.”
At the same time the state is developing regulations to implement medical and adult-use cannabis laws, counties are working at the local level to determine how best to regulate cannabis use within their own communities. California’s cannabis laws give cities and counties a significant amount of local control to determine if they wish to permit commercial medical and/or adult use of cannabis and how best to regulate it at the local level.
Humboldt County Supervisor Estelle Fennell started the day off by providing a look at how her county has positioned itself since the passage of Prop. 64 the state’s medical marijuana laws and lessons learned. “The work is not over once you adopt a local regulatory framework that fits your community – it will continue for some time,” she said. She was followed by county perspectives given by Trinity County Supervisor Judy Morris, Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore and Mendocino County Chief Executive Officer Carmel Angelo.
“We are setting the stage for the next 20 years; it’s imperative we get it right,” Angelo said.
Attendees also heard from a panel consisting of both county and cannabis industry representatives. Communication between the two groups has been a challenge but has improved as the necessity of working together has grown. Cultivator Scott Davies, owner of Winterbourne Farms in Humboldt County, said the “presence of the black market is frustrating.” The issue of a continuing black market is one that both county officials and growers who are being permitted want to see tackled.
“From prohibition to permitting, the industry is interested in coming out of the shadows and working with local government to come into compliance and do our part to ensure for a safe and well-regulated market place,” said Terra Carver, Executive Director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance.
Environmental considerations were also discussed during the day. Representatives from the State Department of Food and Agriculture, as well as Department of Fish and Game were on hand to provide a state perspective.
Regional meeting participants had an opportunity on Wednesday to learn about all aspects of the local cannabis industry through tours of a cannabis farm, a manufacturing plant and a processing center. County supervisors said that the opportunity to learn about the industry first-hand was invaluable as they grapple with local implementation of Prop. 64 and this evolving policy issue.
“Our regional meetings provide an important venue for California counties to discuss key issues facing them,” said CSAC Deputy Executive Director Graham Knaus. “CSAC would like thank Humboldt County Supervisors Bass, Fennell and Sundberg for hosting and helping us to organize this valuable meeting on cannabis.”