Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jul 2015
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Times-Standard
Author: Will Houston


Faced with both state and local proposals for marijuana cultivation 
regulations and a potential statewide legalization measure in 2016, a 
host of North Coast business owners and community members met in 
Eureka on Wednesday to discuss and hear firsthand the concerns, 
challenges and desires of local cannabis farmers.

A panel of three farmers and one watershed consultant were in 
attendance at the forum at the Humboldt Aquatic Center to speak on 
and answer questions regarding various topics relating to cannabis 
farming practices.

The forum was the first in a four-part series spread out during the 
next year that will delve into several aspects of the local cannabis 
industry - including retail distribution, research and branding for 
Humboldt County.

"There are major policy decisions that need to be made that will take 
us down different paths," County Workforce Investment Board Executive 
Director and Economic Development Coordinator Jacqueline Debets - who 
hosted the event - said while explaining why the multi-agency 
economic development organization Prosperity Network is sponsoring the forums.

"Some of us who don't interact directly with the industry in any way 
may see some impacts to our communities and our neighborhoods, and we 
want to weigh in on that."

For the panelists, the point that was addressed most extensively was 
the need for cannabis grows to be regulated as an agricultural 
product and for it to be taxed to benefit local and state entities.

As policy committee chairman of California Cannabis Voice Humboldt, 
Willow Creek resident Patrick Murphy said a large-parcel grow 
ordinance and its companion cultivation tax initiative that his 
nonprofit organization is currently circulating through the public 
are ways to establish these regulations at the county level while 
providing benefits to the community as a whole.

"In the cannabis industry you have a bunch of people who are really 
craving regulation and craving the incentives that come with those 
regulations," he said. "I think from an environmental standpoint, if 
there are no rules, don't expect any to be followed. That's what's 
going on in the hills right now."

Some attendees argued that the ordinance's allowable cultivation 
levels and goal of voluntary compliance by growers would likely not 
address the serious impacts caused by large, unregulated grows.

With there being no current method to bring growers into compliance, 
however, CCVH board member and Women's Alliance co-Chairwoman Terra 
Carver said that the ordinance and tax are ways to regulate those 
farmers who do wish to come into compliance while providing revenue 
for law enforcement to address noncompliant growers.

"It's a seed to start getting people to come into compliance," Carver said.

When asked how much annual revenue the county could generate from the 
excise tax, Murphy estimated about $42 million with full compliance.

"Maybe the next time you smell cannabis, you would think of that as 
the smell of schools being built, that's the smell of roads being 
paved, that's the smell of prosperity and it's everyone's," Murphy 
said, which was followed by a short applause.

Other questions raised by the attendees included regulations on 
pesticide and insecticide use, banking, federal enforcement and 
assurance of local tax revenues.

The next forum will address retail distribution and is set to be held 
on Oct. 14 at the Wharfinger Building in Eureka.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom