MCA’s Policy Progress Report

What We’ve Done For YOU

How MCA amplifies our policy voice and increases our power where it counts!

Beginning with most recent activities and looking back on the last eight months:

    1. First week of June, 2020.  In response to Supervisors reaching out to us, MCA drafts memos with recommendations regarding two alternative proposals to either move to a land use-based system or to revise the existing cultivation ordinance.  The memos were the result of a monumental effort by MCA, involving direct in-depth communication with state regulatory staff, conversations with individual Supervisors and County staff, and extensive internal discussions on the matter. 
    2. MCA pivots on a dime:  In the process of extensive communication with regulators regarding the feasibility of the two alternative approaches, MCA researches and reveals the status of the critical issue pertaining to the status of Mendocino County applicants in relation to State Annual licenses and suggests specific, concrete steps to resolve the issues in a timely manner. MCA then generates a memo advocating an “explore all approaches simultaneously” strategy  and broadcasts the urgency of completing the processing of Phase 1 (legacy) cultivators’ final permits because of the time-limit for them to obtain annual State licenses.  
    3. Direct Impact: From individual elected Supervisors to County staff, there is now consensus to prioritize our legacy cultivators’ ability to obtain state licenses and operate in the legal market.  Additionally, MCA has continually urged the County to streamline the process, allow for transfer of permits, and for acceptance of less expensive building permits than initially required. As a result, the County has reduced the paperwork required for initial and renewal permits, instituted a mechanism to allow legacy farmers to transfer their permits, and adopted an Ag Exempt Hoop House building permit.  
    4. Successfully advocates for the Board of Supervisors and the County to join the state in designating cannabis as an “essential” industry in the time of COVID.
    5. State Advocacy: In the Spring of 2020 MCA became a regional partner of Origins Council, a statewide cannabis policy advocacy, research and education organization devoted to the sustainable economic development of legacy cannabis producing regions. MCA, along with the Trinity County Agricultural Alliance, Sonoma County Growers Alliance, Nevada County Cannabis Alliance and the Big Sur Farmers Association comprise the Regional Council, which is the voting body on all public policy matters for Origins Council.  Please see  www.originscouncil.org for more information. 
    6. In February of this year, in response to  a survey MCA conducted with  the cannabis community, MCA suggested expansion to one acre for outdoor cultivation and different levels of expansion for other styles of cultivation. 
    7. MCA played a central role in helping to secure a $2.2m Equity Grant from the state, and stands ready to collaborate with the County in implementing it.  These funds are earmarked to assist members of the cannabis community impacted by the War on Drugs to help overcome environmental and building compliance issues, licensing, technical support, and other costs preventing our small cannabis businesses from fully participating in the legal commercial marketplace. 
    8. In January, MCA held three candidates’ forums that spotlighted all those competing for supervisorial seats in the 1st, 2nd and 4th districts.  The forums were well-attended and questions required the candidates to respond to specific issues important to the cannabis community.  It is accurate to say that the individuals on the panels revealed just how familiar and unfamiliar they were with our concerns. 
    9. Successfully advocated for the County to pass a Local Coastal Amendment to be presented to the Coastal Commission for approval.  This LCA includes every suggested amendment made by MCA, including allowance of multiple uses in a shared facility; striking the 100 ft setback from access easements; non-cultivation commercial uses in commercial zones with a use permit; allowing consumption at retail facilities as is consistent with state regulations; and providing more equitable fee schedules.
    10. Participated as an invited stakeholder in meetings convened by the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors Cultivation Ad Hoc Committee to explore possible cooperative business models, to streamline the current ordinance, to troubleshoot the state CEQA issues and to help advance the issues important to small operators.
    11. Participated as invited stakeholder in meetings convened by the County regarding Cannabis Economic Development.
    12. Advocated with County leaders for expanding the tourism board beyond representation by only the lodging sector to include cannabis business representation, with funding to market other sectors of tourism.
    13. Offered a suggested policy toward Phase 3 operators (new cultivators), that would allow cultivation in  Rangeland zoning with an Administrative or full Use Permit, depending on size. 
    14. Consistently advocated that cannabis be considered an agricultural crop thereby relieving it of the unfair restrictions imposed on it because it is currently considered a “cannabis product” and not an agricultural crop like grapes and hemp.
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