Despite some bickering Tuesday, Del Norte County supervisors unanimously approved a Personal Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance, regulating personal use of cannabis.
While the county has a ban in place on commercial cannabis activity, the statewide passage of Prop 64 allows the use and growing of marijuana for personal use.
According to staff reports, “Health and Safety Code 11362.2 prohibits a county from completely prohibiting the cultivation of six plants indoors, and permits a county to enact ‘reasonable regulations,’ to regulate this personal cultivation.”
Asked by Supervisor Roger Gitlin why the county needs additional laws to those already mandated by the state, County Counsel Joel Campbell-Blair said there is no redundancy.
Campbell-Blair said state laws don’t regulate much more than the minimum age of use — 21 — and issues regarding the visibility of growing plants. He noted it is the state that grants authority to counties to reasonably regulate personal cultivation.
Asked by Gitlin if the county ordinance is in conflict with state law, Campbell-Blair said state laws are incorporated into the ordinance and are conservative.
“This ordinance attempts to strike a balance between mitigating the unwanted effects of cannabis cultivation, respecting society’s changing attitudes to cannabis, and providing the county with an ordinance that staff can effectively and economically enforce,” said staff reports.
Asked if the ordinance will go to the voters in November, Campbell-Blair said no. He said voters will be able to vote on the county’s commercial cannabis tax ordinance.
Campbell-Blair noted the personal use ordinance will go into effect in 30 days.
According to staff reports, the ordinance is the product of collaboration between “working group members who are in favor of a liberal cannabis policy and members who are opposed to cannabis legalization” and county staff members.
As for a fiscal impact to the county, staff reports predict an inevitable cost in enforcing the laws but say the amount cannot be determined yet.
The text of the ordinance says any violations of the ordinance will qualify as a nuisance, that the ordinance does not allow for use of cannabis in public places, and the use of solvents to manufacture concentrated cannabis is prohibited.
Similar to the personal cultivation ordinance adopted by the Crescent City on June 4, the county’s ordinance allows cultivation in a private residence or accessory building located on the same parcel which is fully enclosed and secure. The maximum cultivation area should be less than 100 square feet, and must comply with other county building, electrical and fire codes.
“Plants may only be cultivated outdoors on parcels that are developed with a single family residence that is the primary residence of the person cultivating the cannabis,” the ordinance reads. “No cultivation shall occur outdoors on a parcel containing multi-unit housing or in a trailer park.”
Regarding an effort to recall Gitlin and Supervisor Bob Berkowitz being spearheaded by Cannabis Working Group vice-chair Jesse Davis, resident Vickie Dickie suggested Davis be removed from the working group. Dickie said she didn’t like that Davis was working with supervisors while trying to have two supervisors recalled.
Resident Linda Sutter said Davis’ wife had told her they live in McKinleyville and questioned the appointment of an out-of-county resident.
Gitlin directly questioned Davis, who said he owns properties in both counties and his wife lives mostly in Humboldt.
“I could live anywhere but I choose to live here,” he said. Asked where and when he registered to vote, Davis said this last election was the first time he registered, and did so in Del Norte County. Davis reminded the board he serves on the working group as a volunteer.
Questioned by Gitlin why he was giving the report and not working group Chair Blake Alexandre, Davis said it was due to a schedule conflict and noted Alexandre has been conducting the regular meetings as chairman.
“He’s a real professional,” Davis said. “He knows how to run a meeting.”
In the works
Filling in for Alexandre, Davis told supervisors the group has been discussing ordinances surrounding retail cannabis in the county.
“It looks like we have a good outline for county counsel to put together a draft ordinance,” Davis said. “It’s very simple, yet restrictive enough to effectively limit the number of locations without the need for a cap.”
Regarding the manufacturing of cannabis products, Davis said the group would like to see only non-volatile manufacturing, as opposed to the use of volatile solvents. The group is also looking at issues regarding the size and scale of manufacturing operations.
Regarding the outdoor cultivation of commercial cannabis, Davis said the group is considering the idea of keeping such operations small in scale and far from residential zones.
The group was schedule to meet again Wednesday.