THC usually does our best to stay out of the marijuana debate in Humboldt, and not because we love and/or hate pot. Frankly, we’re pretty neutral. One thing we assume that everyone can agree on with regards to cannabis is that it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Which is why we felt compelled to take specific aim at the absolutely laughable marijuana ordinance that is set to go before the Humboldt County Planning Commission next Thursday, November 5th.
As you can read in the Times-Standard and LoCO articles on the subject from a couple weeks back, there’s a number of new regulations coming down the Planning Commission’s pipeline next week that, as far as we can tell, stand to create an even more intense marijuana cluster f*** than currently exists in Humboldt County. (You can also stop being so lazy and read the whole ordinance here.)
Now, let’s get one thing straight – we are not pot experts. You may be surprised, but THC’s members aren’t even marijuana “patients” either – the sun hurts our eyes too much to leave mom’s basement in search of a dose, and now that Big Louie’s Pizza in Eureka is gone, all the good delivery services are kaput. (Remember ordering a $20 sack with your extra large pizza? Those were the days.)
However, we can’t help but notice that several of the regulations are absolutely ludicrous. To the point that we imagine the majority of growers/farmers in the area will be hesitant to even begin trying to come into compliance, to say the least. This, of course, is in stark contrast to the the whole CCVH draft that was forwarded to the Board of Supervisor’s a while back which, in comparison, was predictably not regulatory at all.
Some of the specific things that are just plain wacky with the proposed ordinance is the limitations on zoning that will allow grows. Chiefly, if the ordinance proposes to eliminate all grows on TPZ (timber production), FR (forest recreation), and TC (coastal commercial timberland) that aren’t already established by September 1st 2015, then where the hell else are people going to grow? THC hopes all the people in Arcata don’t mind the AG land in the Arcata Bottoms getting bought up for cultivation, because that’s where it is headed.
The point of the matter is that it seems like the TPZ, FR, and TC growing ship has already sailed. Does anyone in this County really think that telling the people that are buying and selling TPZ land for way too much money are going to listen to anyone telling them they can’t grow? Creating regulations that people don’t agree with in the extreme is a sure-fire way of ensuring people just don’t bother trying to come into compliance at all. Which leads us straight back to the black market system THC sincerely hopes that we can get away from.
Now, as for the whole “established prior to September 1st, 2015” thing – we are shocked that the good folks over at the NEC have said they agree with the continued growth of pot on TPZ at all. Don’t you remember what a fuss they’ve been putting up about that over the years? Unless, of course, grandfathering in already existing grows benefits certain people within the NEC organization (We are looking at you, NEC Board Member Larry Glass!) It seems like the CCVH-approved draft wasn’t the only one that’s trying to cut out the competition. Now, if there’s one thing THC does like in business – it’s competition. We simply don’t understand an unrealistic regulation that limits fair competition in any business sector, especially since we expect that people are going to continue growing on timber lands no matter what you tell them.
And on the AG land note, if marijuana is going to be considered an agricultural product, why the hell isn’t it going to be a principally permitted use on AG land? That seems kind of funky to us. Just sayin’.
Now let’s talk use permits. From what THC gathers, a lot of grows in Humboldt are larger than 2,000 square feet. Can anyone give us a better idea on the reality of that? Because it seems like requiring a conditional use permit for grows over 2,000 square feet is logistically and physically impossible in terms of the sheer amount of permits the Planning Department would have to process in order to bring all those grows into compliance.
Just as a refresher – conditional use permits require a hearing before the county planning commission. Have you ever attempted to watch or attend one of those meetings? It can take over three hours to get through a single permit review – and the Commission only meets once a month. Yeesh.
On the flip-side of all that – grows will be allowed up to 1 acre in size? WTF! Honestly, no idea if that’s ill-advisable or environmentally sound or anything like that. It just sounds frickin’ unreal.
Lastly, we are kind of concerned that this draft, which was once so far away from what the NEC found acceptable, is suddenly all hunky-dory with them after going through the hands of County staff, namely Steve Lazar. This is further illuminated by Supervisor’s Sundberg’s comments in the Times-Standard, when he said that “he found the recently released draft “disappointing” as he felt staff did not retain certain parts of the CCVH draft that he said would bring more growers into compliance.”
Last we checked, it’s County Staff’s job to take direction from the Board of Directors to create a draft that the Supervisor’s are comfortable with, not certain outside parties a la the NEC. Yes, we know, a lot of times the Supervisors’ ideas are bonkers – but that doesn’t change the fact that County Staff, and chiefly Steve Lazar, came up with a draft that is based more on the suggestions of an outside entity than the direction of their superiors.
In any case, THC just wanted to point out that there’s no reason for all the time and money our County has spent on drafting this ordinance if they end up creating an ordinance that virtually no one will comply with. Again, we leave it up to the community to determine whether the proposed regulations are acceptable to them. And we also strongly urge people to attend the Planning Commission meeting next Thursday, November 5th, at 6:00 PM in the Supervisor’s Chambers. Our county has already gone to pot, and clearly so too have our Supervisors. It will be up to the people who attend the Planning Commission meeting to shape the ordinance as it moves forward.