Thursday, August 4, 2016

Santa Cruz County To Begin Registering Cannabis Growers

Santa Cruz County to Launch Cannabis Cultivation Registration Program

Santa Cruz County officials are expected, within days, to begin accepting registrations from eligible parties interested in seeking a local license to grow medical cannabis for sale. The online registration process could roll out as early as August 11th, sources say. A 90-day registration window for eligible existing cultivators is among the provisions in the proposed new ordinance, which the Board of Supervisors approved in concept.

While the ordinance has not yet been passed, County staff have been moving ahead with the program in an effort to identify those who "intend to seek a local license" in the future. The information gathered will also be used as a “baseline” for evaluating the environmental impact of the new ordinance.

Licensing priority is given to growers who were operating before December 2013. There are some exceptions for persons who are involved non-cannabis commercial agriculture.

A Licensing Official, who will have broad discretion in approving or denying registrants - with little public oversight, is expected to be hired soon. Over 100 applications for that $140,000 position have been screened and final interviews are being conducted.

The registration process, will require prospective registrants to create an online “account” with basic identifying information. Various forms will need to be downloaded and completed, then uploaded to the system.  It is anticipated that the entire process will require some time to complete and therefore only the initial account setup will be required to be completed in the 90-day window.

A site visit from yet-to-be-hired code enforcement officials will be part of the process. A non-refundable fee of $3,500 will be collected.

The County plans to offer workshops and other technical assistance for prospective applicants. Local cannabis advocacy groups are also planning on providing help once they see the forms and review the various information the County will require..

Priority for review and acceptance of registration will be based upon how complete and compliant the registration is and not the date when the account was initially created.

In other developments the County has taken steps to include a new cannabis tax measure on the November ballot which amends Measure K to include growers and other related operations to the list of businesses subject to up to 10% tax.

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