The moratorium on commercial cannabis cultivation will continue after a unanimous vote by the Plumas County Board of Supervisors at a special meeting Nov. 27. This decision reiterated the board’s preliminary decision to put a moratorium on commercial cannabis Oct. 24.
A few members of the public spoke during yet another crowded board meeting, and the majority opinion was in favor of the moratorium. With no discussion by the board, District 3 Supervisor Sherrie Thrall motioned to extend the uncodified emergency ordinance. The motion garnered unanimous support and now the moratorium can last up to two years.
After the meeting, Feather Publishing contacted County Counsel Craig Settlemire for more details on what the moratorium means for the county, especially those already involved in cannabis cultivation.
He explained that the moratorium is a temporary ordinance that defines the county’s current position on cannabis cultivation to its citizens and to the state. It cannot last any longer than two years, and it cannot rollover into another two-year sequence. The moratorium will only last until the county adopts an official cannabis ordinance.
“My expectation is that it will not require those two years,” said Settlemire.
Currently, there are two draft cannabis ordinances that are heading to the county’s planning commission for review. One ordinance was drafted by the board-appointed Cannabis Working Group, and another was developed by a citizen’s group called The Citizens Group for a Responsible Cannabis Ordinance.
While those ordinances are being reviewed, the moratorium prohibits cannabis cultivation in the county, with the exception of six plants per household allotted for personal use.
Settlemire says this position is not a new one for the county, and cannabis cultivation has never been allowed according to the county’s zoning codes.
When Prop. 215 passed in 1996, it allowed for medical cannabis growth without prosecution, however Settlemire said the county still had the ability to regulate medicinal growth through zoning regulations.
Plumas County exercises permissive zoning regulations, which means if the product isn’t listed in the county’s code as a permissive use, then the property cannot be used for that purpose. Cannabis cultivation has never been listed in the county’s zoning codes, which means it has never been a permitted use, whether it is medicinal or commercial.
“It is the same as it has been in the past,” said Settlemire. “We are aware that people have been growing … and we will have to exercise the prosecutional discretion of the county.”
Settlemire said the moratorium then serves two purposes. The first is to explicitly state to the citizens that the county does not allow cannabis cultivation, with the exception of the six plant allotment. The second is to “declare to the state that there is an express prohibition on cannabis cultivation,” so the state will know not to issue any county citizens the cannabis growth permits that will become available Jan. 1.