- Posted by Laura Croft, Esq
- On November 28, 2016
- Calaveras county, cannabis, licensing, MCRSA, permit, regulations, retail, tax, urgency ordinance
Calaveras County saw a land rush in 2015 and 2016, with cannabis growers snatching up vacant lots in Calaveras County. Further fueling the land grab, the massive destruction of the Butte Fire left many that were uninsured or underinsured, desperate to sell. The Butte fire, the seventh-worst in California history, was sparked in September 2015 and ravaged 70,868 acres. The loss of homes and businesses in Calaveras County was heartbreaking. One of the ways that Calaveras County hopes to rebuild lost revenue and moral, is by enacting one of the most lenient ordinances concerning the cultivation of medical cannabis for commercial sale, while restricting new cultivations in response to concerns that marijuana speculators are narrowing in on fire-scorched properties and taking advantage of vulnerable fire victims. Sacramento Bee.
On May 10, 2016, the Board of Supervisors adopted an “urgency ordinance” adding Chapter 17.95 to the Calaveras County Code regulating Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Commercial Uses involving Medical Cannabis. The ordinance seeks to create a program to register established local medical marijuana growers and halt the land rush by outsiders.
The urgency ordinance is designed to require medical cannabis cultivators to comply with local land use regulations, while mitigating environmental impacts and protecting the public health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the County of Calaveras, all consistent with MCRSA.
The primary goals of the urgency ordinance include:
- Registration – Create a registration process for any current growers who wish to secure a future state licensing under MCRSA. If you did not submit a complete application to the Calaveras Planning Department by June 30, 2016, you are not allowed to have a commercial-sized cannabis farm in Calaveras County. However, if the medical cannabis grow is for personal use or as a primary caregiver, and is truly non-commercial, (ie. 100 sq. ft. of total canopy area per patient), applicants can apply for a personal or caregiver registration through the Planning Department. Registrations are good for one year, unless revoked. Unless a permanent ordinance goes into effect before your registration expires, you will need to apply for a renewal of your registration through the Planning Department no sooner than 60 days before it expires and no later than 30 days before it expires.
- Fees – To register with the County, growers will be required to pay proposed fees of $5000 for commercial cultivators ($100 for personal use, $200 for caregivers). Commercial marijuana farms are expected to fund oversight costs for a cannabis-inspection program to ensure compliance with planting restrictions, proper water use and protection of the environment.
- Regulation – The urgency ordinance sets forth requirements for placement of cultivation sites, size of cultivations, as well as measures to protect the health and safety of employees, independent contractors, visitors to the area, neighboring property owners, and end users of medical marijuana; to protect the environment from harm to streams, fish, and wildlife; ensure the security of cultivations; and to maintain compliance with any and all state and local laws or regulations related to the use, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials or wastes.
- Retail – The urgency ordinance does not impact medical marijuana retail, which is currently regulated under local permitting process Chapter 17.91 of the County Code.
- Other commercial uses, including medical cannabis nursery, transportation operation, distributorship, laboratory, or manufacturing facility, are presently deemed commercial cannabis activities that are not allowed in Calaveras County at this time. However, a county Public Notice states: “In recognition of the fact that there are numerous growers currently operating in the County, the Board of Supervisors identified a public benefit through the permitting and regulating of this industry within unincorporated areas of the County. In addition, the County plans to permit and regulate the other commercial activities associated with medical cannabis, including its manufacture, transport, and distribution.”
Calaveras County is expected to make the urgency ordinance permanent with additional details and concerns addressed and approved by supervisors in the coming year. Draft of Permanent Calaveras Medical Cannabis Ordinance.
The urgency ordinance marks the cultivation of a sustainable economy. Following the rebirth and regrowth of Calaveras County, Measure C, which sets an annual tax of $2 per square foot for outdoor-grown cannabis and $5 per square foot for indoor-grown cannabis, and proposes that once state track-and-trace systems become effective, the tax will be $45 per pound of outdoor-grown cannabis flowers and $70 per pound for indoor-grown cannabis flowers, cruised to an easy victory in the November elections. “This tax could bring – conservatively – between $5 million and $10 million into Calaveras County’s coffers, and that would turn the county around,” explained Calaveras Cannabis Alliance Director Mark Bolger. The tax could mark a profound movement to facilitate economic growth for Calaveras, propel community progress and greatly improve the quality of life for all residents.
We invite you to contact CannaBusinessLaw for expert assistance in compliance with cannabis licensing, permitting and the application process relating to commercial cannabis in California.