The Northcoast Environmental Center (NEC) and its executive director, Dan Ehresman, have been among the most vocal critics of the marijuana industry group California Cannabis Voice-Humboldt (CCVH) and its effort to create a countywide ordinance governing outdoor cultivation (see here, here and here).
Last month, CCVH presented its draft ordinance in a meeting of the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, where it faced vociferous objections from the public and a chilly reception from the board. Still, CCVH board member/co-founder Luke Bruner said the group would be taking public comments on the draft ordinance for 45 days.
Now Ehresman and the NEC are offering their own criticisms of that draft and calling on others to weigh in. Below is that call-to-action, which includes the group’s custom criticism CliffsNotes:
Take Action Now to End Impacts of the Green Rush!
It is long past time to regulate the marijuana industry. Impacts from illegal water diversion, irresponsible grading, and clearing of forests for grow sites have expanded exponentially in recent years. Salmon streams are particularly hard hit from the combined impacts of drought, decades of harmful logging practices, and unchecked marijuana operations.
And while we believe the County - not the industry - should write the rules to govern cannabis cultivation, now is an opportunity to comment on what one industry group has proposed. California Cannabis Voice Humboldt is collecting input through Friday, August 14 on its draft cannabis cultivation ordinance for parcels over 5 acres (www.ccvhumboldt.org).
Northcoast Environmental Center and our allies have identified many specific problems with the ordinance. We urge you to submit comments urging the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to:
Enforce existing laws now! The County does not need to – and should not – wait until a marijuana ordinance is in effect to take action against those currently threatening our watersheds and communities with irresponsible grading, illegal water diversion, and the unpermitted conversion of forestlands to marijuana grows.
Enact a truly public process: The County should adopt a cannabis cultivation ordinance only through public process with input from County departments, state agencies and the public as a whole.
Halt illegal water diversions: The County should require water storage and prohibit summer pumping to protect salmon streams and downstream residents.
Stop the conversion of forestland to large-scale marijuana grows: The County should only allow commercial cannabis operations on agricultural land and on land specifically identified as appropriate for cannabis production.
Prohibit pesticide use: The County should explicitly prohibit pesticide, rodenticide, fungicide and herbicide use on and around cannabis cultivation operations.
Establish a responsible upper limit for the maximum cultivation area allowed per parcel: The County should say no to CCVH’s proposal to allow grows 10,000 square feet and more on almost every rural parcel. Corporate mega-grows should not be allowed.
Require compliance with all local and state environmental laws prior to issuance of business license and/or other certification: The County needs to close the loophole in CCVH’s draft ordinance that would allow growers to skirt environmental laws for two years or more.
Enact equal rules for all growers: The County should not grandfather in existing growers – including those breaking local and state environmental regulations – while imposing tougher guidelines for new cultivators.
Halt all new grows – including expansion of existing operations – until all environmental permits are obtained, particularly in watersheds providing critical salmon habitat.
Ensure a sustainable funding source to rein in egregious environmental impacts – such as through fees, fines, and taxes – for program oversight and for enforcement.
Ensure that the ordinance is consistent with state law.
Submit comments by August 14 to Kathy Hayes, Clerk of the Board, at email@example.com, California Cannabis Voice Humboldt (CCVH) at firstname.lastname@example.org, and call or email the Board of Supervisors:
Rex Bohn, District 1: 476-2391
Estelle Fennell, District 2: 476-2392
Mark Lovelace, District 3: 476-2393
Virginia Bass, District 4: 476-2394
Ryan Sundberg, District 5: 476-2395