Over the coming months, Mendocino County will look at the possibility of a Cannabis Cultivation Amnesty Transition Pathway for local growers who have not yet entered into the county cultivation program. The Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the research into a cannabis transition pathway program.
The goal of the cultivation amnesty program would be to transition all commercial cannabis cultivation from the black market to the legal market, with help from the state if necessary. The plan would likely give more years for legacy growers to transition into county compliance. The Mendocino cannabis program has had trouble with implementation, applications still being proposed, confusing ordinances, more financial losses than revenue, county staff departures, and the transition of running the cannabis program from the Mendocino County Department of Agriculture to Planning and Building Services.
The cannabis program has also had numerous complaints from the public, and the county estimates that more than 90 percent of cultivators in Mendocino County might be outside the permitting framework with no ability to re-enter the program after it closed. There is currently no county plan for an amnesty approach on the books, and the county will likely have to come up with one from scratch.
The transition program possibilities include bringing together counties in similar situations to Mendocino County through a regional county forum to address state barriers to permitting, an equity program application, looking into a criteria and timing for reopening the permitting process for legacy growers, and a county staff report within 60 days of possible solutions and timelines for the Board of Supervisors to discuss and vote on.
Members of the public at the meeting gave their support for the cannabis transition pathway, saying it was something that was overdue and needed to help cannabis growers in the county.
Supervisor Ted Williams said that “there’s no doubt that everyone here wants the same outcome, it’s a matter of how do we get there, and I think we have identified the way we get there, which is to work together with a coalition of neighboring counties, and that alone is a success.”
Supervisor John McCowen said that it is more environmentally helpful to bring people into the regulated program than have them outside the program where there are few incentives to change practices because of a lack of state regulation.