- Posted by Laura Croft, Esq
- On October 6, 2016
- breaking, heritage initiative, MCRSA, medical cannabis, Medical Marijuana, Mendocino County, regulations
On July 7, 2016, the Mendocino Heritage Initiative, an “Initiative to regulate medical cannabis cultivation, processing, testing, distribution, transportation, delivery and dispensing,” received official notice that they had collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
In light of the passage of new statewide regulations, Mendocino passed the Mendocino Urgency Ordinance Amending 9.31, on May 17, 2016. Supporters of the Mendocino Heritage Initiative (MHI) responded quickly and with tremendous effort to push forward an initiative that protects local communities, small farms and balances commercial interests and new regulations.
The MHI emphasizes:
“[A] significant part of Mendocino County’s culture and economy is founded on cannabis cultivation on small family farms, with a heritage of decades of specialized agricultural cultivation and skilled cultivation practices, and the local culture and economy will thrive if farmers are encouraged to work with the plant and the ecosystem in a regenerative and sustainable way.”
The MHI repeals sections of the county code that currently govern medical cannabis and introduces a comprehensive regulatory framework. Highlights of the MHI include:
• Repeals 9.31 and 9.37 by introducing a more comprehensive regulatory framework for medical cannabis cultivation, processing testing, distribution, transportation, delivery and dispensing in the County of Mendocino;
• Supports the State of California’s designation of cannabis as agriculture by moving regulation of industry under Department of Agriculture for permitting and enforcement of cultivation;
• Revises the cultivation limits by allowing plant count and/or square footage of canopy and appropriately increasing the cultivation limits based on zoning and parcel size;
• Provides a county tax base by implementing a 2.5% tax on medical cannabis and 5.0% proposed on non-medical;
• Bridges a gap in MCRSA, a compilation of recently enacted AB 243, AB 266, and SB 643, by allowing local transport by licensed entity between any two licensed entities within the County (e.g. cultivator from farm to local dispensary or lab); and
• Enacts civil code penalties for permit violation to be enforced by the Departments of Ag, Planning & Building, or Health & Human Services by imposing graduating fines on violations.
MHI will create new regulations, but it will also grandfather in many growers, allowing those currently cultivating specific grace periods to establish compliance. The MHI also contemplates and encompasses the designation of cannabis cultivation as an agricultural activity and considers Mendocino’s Appellation Project to protect and brand the unique culture and micro-regions of Mendocino County. The MHI protects the heritage of Mendocino’s veteran, local growers and businesses by mandating at least two years of county residency to hold a majority ownership in a marijuana business.
The highest priority for Mendocino farmers is to implement California state law – and quick. Mendocino’s board of supervisors has been moving at a painfully slow pace. Although an urgency ordinance was set forth on May 17, 2016, a final ordinance is not promised until early 2017. There is a resounding concern that Mendocino residents will be left out of the rapidly developing commercial market, unless a new county policy takes hold.
MHI was approved on August 2, 2016 to go to the ballots in November. An unprecedented election season in Mendocino County is on the horizon and CannaBusiness Law is excited to be a part of the progressive movement.