Cannabis working group votes for special use permits

The members of the Plumas County Cannabis Working group have decided that if a Plumas County citizen wants to grow cannabis, he or she must apply for a Special Use Permit (SUP). At its regular meeting Oct. 19, the group reiterated that decision for all zones, excluding all residential zones where commercial growth is banned.

The draft ordinance, that has been the subject of much contention over the past months, is not making it easy for commercial cannabis growers, especially now that all zones allotted for growing require a SUP for cannabis operations.

“I don’t understand the special use permit process,” said local grower Lane Labbe. “The only thing that I have read is that it is a requirement for when you want to do something that is incompatible with your zoning.”

“No,” said Geographic Information System Planner Becky Osborn. “It may be incompatible with the neighborhood … We don’t have incompatible uses.”

Labbe asked for clarification on the process.


“Let me try to provide a very simplistic definition,” said County Counsel Craig Settlemire. “There are those [zoning uses] that are definitely allowed and there are those that are entirely not allowed. The Special Use Permit takes the section in the center and says ‘it could be allowed if we apply certain conditions to it’ … The SUP covers that gray area.”

“That is super broad,” said Labbe who was given a thick binder with the planning code.

For those who were not able to peak over Labbe’s shoulder when reading the code, the special use permit is required by various zones for certain uses.

According to the SUP application, the permit is required when the particular requested uses “have the potential to be socially, economically or environmentally incompatible with the surrounding area.”

The process to obtain a special use permit is extensive. It includes an investigation of the application by the county Zoning Administrator, which might, most likely with cannabis cultivation, require the preparation of an environmental impact report. The investigation is also subject to a public hearing, notices of which are mailed out to neighbors within 300 feet of the relevant property.

The notice of the hearing has to be published in the newspaper at least 10 days before. The Zoning Administrator makes a decision at the hearing. Appeals to the decision must be made within 10 days of the decision to the board of supervisors. All in all, the special use permit can take up to six months to acquire.


At previous meetings, Planning Director Randy Wilson has said the planning department does not have the capacity to handle mass amounts of special use permits, and that the county only processes about one or two a year.

Though the special permitting process would take time, the group determined it is still faster than if the county issued its own cannabis growth permits.

To approve the ordinance without the SUP requirements, the county would have to conduct an EIR that encompasses all the cannabis activity in the whole county, which would postpose any approval of the drafted ordinance by a year or two. The SUP process would potentially require an EIR on a case-by-case basis.

14 thoughts on “Cannabis working group votes for special use permits

  • This is huge mistake.

  • I would love to know if there is a map or grid available that show which areas are zone for growing, which ones are not and where that gray area is.

    • What you need to do is lookup your properties Zoning, like R-10, R-20, it will be on your property records and than go to and lookup what is allowed. It won’t say marijuana, but, there will be areas that a a point of law, such as, allowing “Sec. 9-2.249. – Horticulture. which is defined as “Horticulture” shall mean producing crops for commercial purposes. ” It can’t be that gray for those areas that allow this.

      I don’t smoke or eat MJ, but, there is a process that was set in place last year and it is wrong to change it at the last minute for people that did not provide input during the process.

  • This is dangerous and stupid..
    Thos is just another way to regulate our rights away from us. If you voted 215 or prop 64 with intent to grow your own speak up!
    215 patients.. They wanna leave it to your neighbor to decide your health. So not right!
    Also puts neighbors at odds with each other. Retaliation will happen on a dangerous leval! No one has the right to tell there neighbor how treat there ailments! Taken away ppl PSYCH or PAIN MEDS THEY JAVE A TENDENCY TO BE VIOLENT AND IRRATIONAL!

    • I believe there can be a medical use for Marijuana, yet why should the public have to ingest the smoke because a neighbor is using it? How is it OK for a man to tell you to keep your children off of a public street because they are smoking marijuana where the kids are riding their bike? If you smoke marijuana in your home and it is not against your federally managed apartment or SECTION 8 home, great , that is your right. It is not your right to tell a parent or a child that the children can not ride a bike on public streets because they are smoking on that street. RANT OVER, YET NOT OK WITH PUBLIC AREA SMOKING OF MARIJUANA !!!

      • I completely agree with ones choice to use marijuana, for rec or med if you are 18 and a adult.HOWEVER I do not agree with it growing in some areas. If someone chooses to use it it doesn’t mean that their neighbors who choose not to should have to see or smell the plants. even as a pro smoker I have a issue with people growing in their yard where children can pass by and see. If you have property that is out of town and completely private that is one thing. Who does it bother? No one but when people live in a close community and kids can clearly see the plants from the road or sidewalk it isn’t right. Also Marijuana is very strong smelling, the more plants the bigger the smell. I know I wouldn’t want my neighbors to leave their trash out side my windows so how would it be far to make everyone around you smell it!

        • I agree that we should all strive to enjoy our personal freedoms with a emphases on reducing our impact(s) on our neighbors and our community as a whole, I believe and promote this concept emphatically. I wish more people practiced this concept.
          As far smell is concerned It gets much more complicated, I understand that a smell that folks aren’t used to can be offensive, some of it boils down to cultural norms. We live in an agricultural community, I’m proud of that, but part of that means dealing with smells and sounds that someone in the city simply wouldn’t be okay with. I live in a residential area, the houses in my neighborhood are the same proximity to one another as they would be in a typical suburb of an urban area, in my neighborhood there are neighbors with chickens and roosters, a donkey(super loud), and 4H pigs. I don’t have a problem with any of this because I grew up here but if you are being completely fair these activities very directly negatively effect me in my personal space, as a result of choices that others made around me without my consent and without any benefit to me.
          My wife has asthma and is extremely allergic to many things, honeysuckle or azalea will make her physically very ill and are very pungent, the smell travels very far, there are no regulations on azaleas or 4H pigs nor do I think there should be. I may be a matter cultural adjustment I believe, it’s something many people aren’t used to, but that doesn’t mean that it is inherently wrong, I don’t raise pigs but I have to smell them, I don’t use harsh chemicals on my yard but my neighbors are free to spray whatever they want in their yards. We all make concessions all the time for our neighbors it’s part of living in a rural agricultural community, If you want or need more control over what your neighbors do in their back yards, there are places you can move to with homeowner’s association’s that will tell you exactly what you can and can’t do in your own yard.
          Large commercial grows should be set away from neighborhoods just like any large agricultural activity.

        • Thank you! Very well said!

      • You may be comforted to know that smoking in public spaces like streets where children play is prohibited under Prop 64.

      • It’s not legal to smoke in public and will continue to be that way. Someone may smoke on their own property just as one could smoke cigarettes on their own property but if someone really did what you say then they were breaking the law. Just saying….there is no law that allows someone to smoke cannabis in public.

  • This is for commercial cannabis growing, not for simple personal homegrown recreational or medical plants.

    Don’t let them scare you away from growing your own.

    • Read the draft proposal, it reduces the amount to grow for personnel use and does apply. If it doesn’t they need to update it.

  • Howard is correct. The first sentence in the article should have said COMMERCIAL cannabis. Local jurisdiction cannot take away your right to grow 6 plants. However, the county can pass an ordinance restricting personal grows by prohibiting outdoor growing, prohibiting growing in a residence, leaving the only option a small building in the yard with odor control, no clear walls or roof, electric lights only, etc. This is how it is in Tehama and other counties. A waiver from the planning dept. often is written into the code so that a person may grow in-home if they can’t afford the outside grow room. As long as the Moratorium is in effect, there are no local restrictions on 6 personal plants, but that could change at any time. If I wanted to grow my own outside I would ask my neighbors, try to convince them that state regs protect children from seeing the plants, and if they said no, I wouldn’t do it. I value peace in the neighborhood. I just get it from a friend. Really, reasonable consumption (medical aside) doesn’t take much plant. There are many viewpoints.

  • Growing 6 plants is all anyone that uses for medical reasons should need. Commercial grows damage the environment, hog water, creates light pollution and creates a sketchy environment remote or not. Greedy growers are a problem. if your cutting down trees for more sunlight you are not thinking of anyone but your pockets getting full of cash. grow what you personally need…period. I live in a remote area and my neighbor is 15 ft away with over 200 plants. while I have 2. I pay more In taxes as next door land is considered agriculture with free creek water..its bull crap. I have .25 acre she has 9 acres. I pay more in property tax.

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