By Zach Friend, County Supervisor 2nd District
Over the last four years the Board of Supervisors has been working on policies around the dispensing and cultivation of medical cannabis. Creating a framework for medicinal sales (through local dispensaries) was the first thing addressed by ordinance a few years ago. While there have been updates to that ordinance, overall the framework for medicinal sales has been established.
Creating a framework for commercial cultivation – both on the medicinal side and now, through state law change, the recreational side, has proved more difficult. The Board has been through various iterations of the ordinance and taken a significant amount of testimony focusing on three overarching objectives: 1) Protect neighborhoods 2) Protect the environment 3) Provide enough cannabis to meet the medicinal needs of local residents.
Ultimately, state law changes have expedited the need to come up with a framework for commercial cultivation in our county that still aims for the Board’s overarching objectives.
The Board developed a draft ordinance to govern commercial cultivation and is in the process of conducting a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR). A draft EIR has been released, and it’s important to hear your thoughts during this process.
What is being considered?
The primary question being considered is what licensed commercial cannabis cultivation will look like in our county. Where will it be permitted? How much will be permitted? What will the impacts of the proposed changes be on our county?
For example, should it be allowed to be grown indoors and outdoors? Should it be concentrated to just agricultural parcels? What are the traffic, noise, smell and water impacts? How are fire risks mitigated? How much should be grown per parcel? What should the parcel size be? What zone(s) are acceptable for commercial-scale growing? Should there be differentiations in the coastal zone versus non-coastal zone? Should residential manufacturing (foods for example) be permitted?
These are just some of the many questions being considered and why your comments on the draft EIR are so important in shaping this land use change.
How to share your thoughts …
Formal comments will be accepted until at least Monday, October 16. You can find the draft EIR at www.santacruzcounty.us/cannabiseir
You can submit comments via email (email@example.com) or hard copy to:
Cannabis Comments c/o Matt Johnston • Santa Cruz County Planning Department • 701 Ocean St., 4th Floor, Santa Cruz, CA, 95060
You can also submit your comments in person on Monday, October 2, 2017 at the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 5th floor, from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Additionally, there will be other opportunities to express your thoughts about the EIR before final adoption at public hearings before the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.
Your participation in this process (especially by making comments directly on the EIR) is key. Thank you for learning more about these changes and, as always, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to call me at 454-2200.