This afternoon, the public got its first chance to tell the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors what it thinks of the latest draft of the Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance (MMLUO), a draft crafted by the Planning Commission over a series of 10 meetings. 

If there was a consensus it was this: The draft is so permissive toward existing and would-be cultivators that, if implemented as is, it would further open the floodgates to marijuana cultivation, jeopardizing the environment and leaving the county vulnerable to lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). 

While many speakers graciously thanked county staff and the planning commission for their hard work, the vast majority then moved directly into addressing the shortcomings they saw in the proposed ordinance. The primary areas of concern were these:

  • TPZ land: An earlier draft of the ordinance — the one the Planning Commission started with — prohibited medical marijuana cultivation on lands zoned for timber production (TPZ). The Planning Commission reversed that.
  • Caps on permits: The Planning Commission draft included no cap on the total number of cultivation permits the county could issue.
  • Environmental repercussions: The earlier draft created by county staff proposed only a “Mitigated Negative Declaration” by way of environmental documentation — essentially a statement that proposed ordinance wouldn’t have any significant adverse impacts to the environment under the CEQA. Many speakers today expressed skepticism that the Planning Commission draft would be covered under that threshold. 

The board took no action on the draft today, but there is something of a time crunch if the county hopes to get an ordinance in place before a March 1 state deadline for local regulations. 

Check back tomorrow for a more thorough report on the meeting and the issues raised therein.