Pubdate: Tue, 26 Jul 2016
Source: Press Democrat, The (Santa Rosa, CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Press Democrat
Author: Julie Johnson


A series of town hall meetings are underway to help Sonoma County 
create a comprehensive set of rules to regulate and capitalize on a 
burgeoning marijuana industry, from seeds in the ground to 
manufacturing, delivery and sales.

County supervisors have signaled their intent to bring marijuana 
cultivation and related businesses into the legal sphere - and under 
local control - before regulations and license programs under the 
state's landmark Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act are 
likely operational in 2018.

No draft rules have yet been written. County staff from nearly every 
department are taking part in the meetings to gather public input. 
Three meetings remain, including town hall events Wednesday in 
Sebastopol and Thursday in Santa Rosa.

"We're essentially acknowledging a sector of our economy and setting 
up a regulatory structure for it for the first time," said Tennis 
Wick, director of the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department.

Odor, noise and public safety will be major considerations, as well 
as environmental impacts, Wick said.

Medical marijuana advocates have said they're pushing the county to 
avoid regulations favoring large, commercial operators over patients 
and small farmers with overly restrictive zoning restrictions or 
prohibitively expensive permitting fees.

"If our goal is to get people out of the shadows and into the light, 
if we can't give them that option because they're not in a zone where 
they can operate, we're going to lose," said Sarah Shrader, who 
chairs the Sonoma chapter of Americans for Safe Access.

Currently, the county does not have an ordinance permitting marijuana 
cultivation in unincorporated areas. But the county in 2006 
recognized a patient's right to grow and consume marijuana in amounts 
greater than the state minimum, which it established as possession of 
3 pounds of dried pot and 30 plants per patient.

Santa Rosa has already taken interim steps to help legalize the 
underground cannabis economy while it drafts long-term rules for the industry.

The city opted earlier this year not to ban commercial cannabis 
cultivation, as some suggested would be easiest, and instead allowed 
businesses to apply for permits and limited the areas to the city's 
industrial zones. Three such applications are pending.

Now the city is proposing to allow so-called cannabis "support" 
industries to locate here as well, including companies involved in 
testing, manufacturing, distributing and transporting cannabis products.

The first two town hall meetings held by the County of Sonoma Medical 
Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee took place July 18 at the Sonoma Veterans 
Memorial Building and July 20 at the Petaluma Community Center.


Future town hall meetings:

District 5 hosted by Supervisor Efren Carrillo: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, 
July 27 at the Sebastopol Grange, 6000 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol.

District 3 co-hosted by Supervisor Shirlee Zane and Santa Rosa City: 
5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28 at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave., 
Santa Rosa.

District 4 hosted by Supervisor James Gore: 6 p.m. Aug. 2 at the 
Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, 50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa.

The county is also soliciting input from the public through a survey here

For more information visit
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom