Two very different draft commercial cannabis ordinances will be making their way to the Plumas County Planning Commission after Jan. 1. After a decision by the Board of Supervisors to send all draft cannabis ordinances to the commission, it will be up to the commission which one will go on to the board for finalization.
One draft ordinance was created by a group of community members called the Citizens Group for a Responsible Cannabis Ordinance and was completed Oct. 17. This draft ordinance was created in response to some community members’ disapproval of the draft that the board-appointed Cannabis Working Group created.
The Cannabis Working Group, formed in 2016 and made up of representatives from each supervisor’s district, has been picking through legislation and permitting processes for over a year to complete its draft. The CWG recently submitted its draft for review Nov. 9.
The two drafts have conflicting language that create a very strong contrast with each other, with the CGRCO’s draft demonstrating a clear opposition to any sort of commercial cannabis growing, while the working group’s draft supports limited commercial growth through a Special Use Permit process.
Main points: CGRCO draft
The CGRCO’s draft ordinance prohibits all commercial cannabis grows and all outdoor cannabis cultivation, including mixed lighting, which is greenhouse or hoop house growth.
Any type of cannabis cultivation cannot exceed six plants per residence and cannot be grown for commercial purposes. Primary caregivers, or people who grow on behalf of someone who needs the plant for medication, are also limited to six plants. Cooperative grows, or groups of people who grow cannabis on one property, are limited to the same number.
All grows must be indoors in a building completely separate from any kind of residence. Requirements for the building are extensive and require a roof, foundation, a building permit, odor filtration systems, working security systems and the building must be set back at least 100 feet from the property line.
All cannabis cultivators must register their property annually with the county’s planning department before Dec. 31 of each year.
Cannabis cannot be cultivated on empty lots. There must be a residential unit on the property. There cannot be any cultivation within 1,000 feet from schools, school bus stops, school evacuation sites, churches, parks, child-care centers or youth-orientated facilities. According to the draft, growth in those areas “creates unique risks that cannabis plants may be observed by juveniles, and therefore be especially vulnerable to theft or recreational consumption by juveniles.”
If any of these regulations are violated in anyway, the county can determine the operation a public nuisance and issue a notice that the owner must abate the unlawful cultivation. If they do not abate it, then the enforcement officer can do so, at the expense of the owner or occupant. Administrative fees can be up to $1,000 each day the cultivation site remains unabated.
Main points: Working Group draft
The CWG’s draft ordinance does allow for commercial cannabis growth. It also allows for indoor, mixed lighting and outdoor grows with limits to plant canopy square footage and amount of plants.
All grows must be approved through the Special Use Permit process within the planning department.
The six-plant personal grow allotment, approved with the passage of Prop. 64, must be at least 10 feet from the property line, and if grown outdoors, there must be a 7-foot fence around the grow. If the property is any less than one-third of an acre, then the resident can only grow three plants outdoors.
There cannot be any commercial growth within town boundaries or residential zones, as defined in the county’s general plan. The smallest outdoor or mixed light commercial grow operation must be 1 acre or larger and allows for a maximum of 25 plants, not to exceed 2,500 square feet in canopy size.
Indoor cultivation does not have an acreage limit, as long as it is in a fully enclosed building. There are different permits for different sized buildings, and different sized parcels of land. In total, there are 22 permits for commercial cannabis activity.
All outdoor and mixed grows must have a 7-foot fence that prevents the cannabis from being viewed and a locked gate. All lights must be shielded and downcast from view. All permit applicants must undergo an annual on-site compliance inspection by the county.
Cultivation sites must be at least 1,200 feet from schools and all pesticides, fertilizers and irrigation plans must be preapproved by the county. There is also regulation on non-cultivation permits such as dispensaries, nurseries and microbusinesses.
If the owner or operator of the cannabis operation does not stay in compliance with the permitting process, then their operation can be abated.
The Plumas County Planning Commission will review the ordinances in their next meetings. In the meantime, the county has restricted all commercial and medicinal cannabis growth through the recently passed moratorium on cannabis growth, which was approved Nov. 27.