Pubdate: Thu, 03 Dec 2015
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2015 North Coast Journal
Author: Grant Scott-Goforth


The hunt is on for California's marijuana czar (or czarina), with a 
whole new branch of state government waiting to be shaped by his or her hands.

Medical marijuana legislation recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown 
will establish a new Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulations under 
the Department of Consumer Affairs. (Depending on how you feel about 
the long-overdue package of laws, you might refer to it as a BuMMR or 
the BoMM.)

Heading this bureau will be a yet-to-be-named chief bureaucrat; the 
SF Chronicle's Joe Garofoli reports that the state is narrowing in on 
job qualifications. A representative of the Department of Consumer 
Affairs, which will hire for the position, said the job will be 
relatively straightforward, as state regulatory jobs go. The director 
will hire 40 to 50 people to staff the new bureau, write state policy 
and administer the new licensing scheme's rules. The post will pay up 
to $128,000 a year - which seems a relatively meager wage compared to 
other state and county salaries.

One consultant told the Chronicle that the new director will have to 
maintain a good balance between the 17 agencies enforcing new medical 
marijuana laws, the many facets of the medical marijuana industry, 
and the federal government, which still officially considers 
marijuana of no medicinal value.

Plus, the article points out, recreational marijuana is likely to 
reach California's ballot next year, meaning the new chief could be 
"either out of a job - or in line for an even bigger one regulating 
medical and recreational herb."

As the Journal went to press, the Humboldt County Planning Commission 
was meeting to finalize its recommendations for a large-parcel 
outdoor cultivation ordinance that's been the subject of dozens of 
hours of meetings over the last month. (The commission didn't meet 
the week of Thanksgiving - for the most recent updates, see 
"Humboldt's Specialty," Nov. 26.)

But in the most recent issue of EcoNews, Humboldt Baykeeper Director 
Jen Kalt wrote that the commission largely ignored the concerns of 
conservation and environmental groups. "It has become clear that the 
majority of Humboldt County Planning Commissioners wants to open the 
doors for expansion of the Green Rush," Kalt wrote.

While she praised the commission's recommendations to limit water 
trucking, she said other commission recommendations are poised to 
open the door to expanded environmental damage with the following missteps:

No limit on the number of new grows that would be permitted;

No limit on the overall number of permits;

No limit on the number of permits per parcel;

No limits on indoor cultivation relying on diesel and gas generators;

No limit on the amount of Timber Production Zone or agricultural land 
that can be converted to marijuana cultivation;

Large increases in the size of cultivation areas proposed in the 
draft ordinance.

Kalt also decried the lack of a "specialty" designation that would 
reward best practices on grow sites, and said the lack of limits on 
grows could put the law's mitigated negative declaration - which 
would ensure the law's compatibility with state environmental 
regulations - at risk of being inadequate.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom