The Santa Cruz County Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee (C4) could begin focusing on policy recommendations at their next meeting on Tuesday which will begin at 9 am at the Simpkins Center off of 17th St.
Since Governor Brown has now signed into law the trio of bills creating the statewide Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation the committee will review the legislation with an eye toward identifying the necessary steps that will need to be taken to bring local ordinances into line.
Also on the agenda for the fifth meeting of the 13 citizen appointees will be another “study session” this time featuring Kristen Kittleson, Resource Planner with the Fish and Wildlife Commission and Matt Johnson, County Environmental Coordinator.
After those presentations, at approximately 10:45 am, the committee will begin looking at the new comprehensive state legislation signed by Brown on Friday.
At their last meeting members tabled a discussion about whether or not to elect a chair from among their ranks but did agree to extend their meetings by an hour and requested that dedicated time be set aside at every meeting for each member to weigh in on specific policies rather than wait until late November before trying to develop any agreements.
County staff had expressed the opinion that there was no need to have a committee chair and vice chair since the county had hired a consultant to facilitate the group. Still they intend to recommend to the Board of Supervisors that the ordinance creating the committee be amended in order to try and put an end to the idea.
The County was also advocating for a "go slow" approach contending that it would be premature to try and reach any consensus while there are still questions which could be addressed.
County consultant Eric Olsen presented his “Context for Conversation” slide presentation which began with a call for calm in order to remain focused on the mission. He offered the following as “core” questions the committee will need to address:
- How do we identify which cannabis growers have been good members of our community when we know people are afraid to complain?
- Who should be allowed to grow and sell medical cannabis, where and how?
- How much medical cannabis should be allowed to be grown here?
The next slide offered various regulatory strategies which he followed with a list of over a dozen examples of what he called “pieces of the puzzle” that needed to be solved. He ended with these questions:
- What are the most urgent issues to address?
- What are some options that we could explore to address those issues?
- What do we need to learn more about?
Next up was County Planning Director Kathy Previsich who after explaining the role of land use planning offered her opinion that zoning would not be an effective or favored way to deal with cannabis cultivation or sales. She suggested that permitting or certifications by an appropriate agency specifying regulations and conformance standards would be preferred.
Lively discussions followed in both small groups and with the whole committee around a variety of suggestions like creating a permitting system, identifying the current applicable regulations which could be enforced and the possibility of creating an entirely new agency, Many committee members believed that the Sheriff’s office was not the appropriate agency to govern cannabis cultivation.