It’s no secret that the cannabis industry is in steep decline in a variety of states, including California. We’ve written time and time again about the specific problems plaguing the cannabis industry in California. high taxesamazing credit crunch And Collections problems, receivershipand rampant domestic bans, over-regulation by the state, and The raging illicit market are just a few. Now, line up with California cannabis voters who may have initially supported this democratic experiment but are now thinking twice about local laws and regulations that allow commercial cannabis activity in their borders. Cannabis abolition may be on the horizon.
Neighbor term “not in my backyard” (“nimby’) has obvious negative connotations. Of course, cannabis NIMBYs are not unique to California. They are ubiquitous in cannabis.
Years ago, we wrote a blog post about how to deal with them and their tactics. be seen here. Basically, NIMBYs thrive on confrontation and making plenty of arguments to kill or stop progress when it comes to growing the cannabis business. They will even go so far as to form plaintiff groups to sue the local government and the cannabis companies for any potential grounds, including (and usually) alleged environmental issues or violations of due process rights in creating cannabis laws.
In turn, cannabis companies would be wise to be as transparent as possible with all of their neighbors as well as their local government, and to remain in constant communication with regulators in order to avoid inadvertent regulatory violations. But what happens when you get past the initial NIMBYs only to find yourself at their mercy again years after setting up shop?
Cannabis abolition in california
When I was practicing in Washington state, there were several instances where a city or county first embraced cannabis legalization and welcomed all kinds of businesses to set up shop. Then, two years later, you’ll see some of these local governments rethink those decisions and enact subsequent moratoriums. In some cases, these jurisdictions have revoked or denied a conditional license in order to completely eradicate the cannabis trade (yes, this can be done depending on local laws).
Now, I see some grumbling in California about certain cities and counties returning to their initially warm and fuzzy feelings about cannabis use. And a lot of that is driven by local voters who are fed up and upset.
I recently read this condition By Lester Black from SF Portal. California’s Emerald Triangle is world-renowned for the quality of their hemp and their generations of hemp growers, and this includes Humboldt County in particular. It was one of the first local governments to regulate hemp growers in the state after legalization in 2018. Now, though, its entire local industry will face the potential death knell represented by a March 2024 vote on a new initiative that would severely restrict the existing industry, removing any Other farms from establishment.
Here’s a copy of initiative. According to the initiative’s website, the proposed amendments would “reduce the impacts of hemp cultivation, promote healthy environments and rural communities, ensure public participation, and protect small, environmentally-minded hemp farmers.” Supporters of the initiative state on their website that given the district’s initial planning and current laws,
There are now more than 1,000 legally permitted operations, most of which are in stark contrast to the small-scale ‘hippie’ organic farming of previous decades. The newly emerging cannabis culture represents a ‘massive industrial approach to grow’, with heated, ventilated grow-houses, lights 24/7 operation, heavy water usage, loud generators.
Moreover, according to the initiative’s website,
“… Megaplant invasions into rural residential, agricultural and forest areas have been met with great anger and bitterness by rural residents. One reason for this is that District Law 2.0 prevents most affected rural residents from being notified that a mega project will be constructed next to them. This has been viewed as ignoring Degrading and disrespectful, leaving residents with little, if any, to complain about, or to endure the pain of costly and difficult litigation. Residents cite health, safety and welfare issues, dangerous traffic, harassment of farmers, and damage to the environment and natural beauty. Of particular concern is the diversion of river and well water, depriving residents of Ranchers are critical of water, as well as of watersheds and ecosystems, where water deprivation impacts animal and plant habitats. Strong objections have been made to the constant night lights and generator noise that disrupt residents’ lives and impact wildlife, including the northern spotted owl.
Humboldt industry reaction
The proposed 38-page initiative (called the Humboldt Cannabis Reform Initiative) represents a comprehensive overhaul of Humboldt County’s current cannabis laws. Perhaps most importantly, this initiative would limit the size of hemp farms to no more than 10,000 square feet, making about 400 farms currently permitted non-conforming uses under the initiative; The number of permits issued will be limited to no more than 1,200 permits, and they will be valid for only one year before renewal. Moreover, a company cannot obtain multiple cultivation permits on a single plot of land. No generators will be permitted except one for emergency use only, and all neighbors of the grow site must be notified in advance of the grow’s arrival. Finally, for existing growers to comply with the proposed initiative, they would have to enact a laundry list of expensive changes or be made non-conforming and eventually shut down.
The county’s reaction to de facto cannabis deregulation
Governorate Planning Directorate initiative analysis Incredibly interesting. Early in its analysis, the Planning Department wrote, “[The initiative]aims to ‘… protect the county’s population and natural resources from the harm caused by large-scale cultivation of cannabis…’ It does so by developing a regulatory regime that makes most of the permitted plantations non-conforming exist.” The analysis goes on to say:
“The largest farms in Humboldt County are between 7 and 8 acres. There are four farms of this size. For comparison, Lake County has farms larger than 60 acres, and Santa Barbara and San Bernadino counties have farms larger than 100 acres. In the context of the statewide market, Humboldt County does not have large-scale farms.
Essentially, the county claims that there are no true “mega farms” in Humboldt County at this time, and that:
“The public does not understand what this initiative will do and they signed the petition believing that ‘large-scale’ hemp farms should not be in Humboldt County without recognizing that most of the so-called ‘large farms’ that would be banned if (the initiative) passed are the same farms. “Which has been in Humboldt County for decades.”
It appears, then, that the county Planning Department does not support passage of the initiative, which is what it conveyed to the county Board of Supervisors.
What’s next in humboldt
Undoubtedly, from now until March, both proponents and opponents of this initiative will be organizing educational campaigns for the benefit of the general public. But the big legal implication is that Humboldt will not be the last stand or case in which local voters initially embrace cannabis legalization, only to change their minds in the future. As a result, we could see major reforms or complete removal of California’s domestic cannabis industries.
Perhaps most importantly, if the Humboldt initiative to reform cannabis is passed in March, other excited, angry, upset, well-capitalized local voters can use the process as a blueprint for their own cannabis abolition campaigns. I will definitely watch in March when this vote goes down, as it could have major implications for other local cannabis programs in California.