MCA Recap of March 2 Special Meeting on Cannabis

The BoS Special Meeting on Cannabis on March 2 covered a lot of ground. It is currently posted on the County YouTube page (CLICK HERE). A brief recap of each item is below, and MCA will discuss in more detail on a Member only Policy Call Thursday March 10. For those of you receiving this email who are not currently Members, you can visit https://mendocannabis.com/join/ to join up Today and make sure you stay in the loop on all things Mendocino Cannabis!

The Mendocino Cannabis Program (MCD) is now the Mendocino Cannabis Department (MCD). We suggest continuing to use the cannabisprogram@mendocinocounty.org email until you hear otherwise.

You can find the agenda item resolutions and documents that were discussed here: https://bit.ly/BoS_3-2_SpecialMeeting

Here are the items and the outcomes:

Item 3a – Contiguous Expansion Affidavit policy

– This item passed as written. The actual recommendation that passed was not presented in written form in the Agenda so I do not have the exact wording, but will follow up when I can get access to it. Roughly, it was to modify the existing County policy to make the second sentence of item 3 of Exhibit A (available at the agenda items link above) – which is the staff screening to determine if an applicant must be referred to CDFW for a full SSHR – to be a SEPARATE requirement so that if an applicant has the same footprint, but they also have veg removal (any) or tree removal (any, even lawful) or grading (any including pursuant to a grading permit), they must go through a full SSHR referral to CDFW and not just address it later in the Appendix G process.

-We had opposed this course of action in our memo.

Item 3b – Local Jurisdiction Assistance Grant Program – The Board passed the resolution as presented, providing authorization for the Mendocino Cannabis Department Director to change the program in accordance with State law, in consultation with County Counsel, at her discretion.

– The Board requested that any changes be adequately noticed to the Board and the public.

– We had expressed support for expanding the programs, but objected to several identified uses other than Direct Grants to applicants, and so opposed this resolution in our memo (though we absolutely agree that more transparency is needed).

Item 3c – Cannabis Program Name Change- As mentioned above, the Mendocino Cannabis Program (MCP) is now the Mendocino Cannabis Department (MCD). That is all for now.

Item 4a – Fallowing – The Board directed County Counsel to work with the Ad Hoc to develop a tax relief plan that would ideally serve the same purpose as the Fallowing proposal made by Hannah Nelson but without the additional administrative requirements a full program would entail.

– The agreement that tax relief is needed, and that tax relief focused solutions will be the first items evaluated, is a huge step in the right direction.

– We support the direction of this approach (though the devil is always in the details) and will work closely with the Ad Hoc on this item to try and ensure that the most useful program is developed with the least amount of burden for applicants and the County.

– The Notice of Application Stay and Notice of Non Operation for Permit holders still currently contain the poison pill of the loss of local authorization for those seeking to utilize those programs. We believe it is essential that this be revised IN ADDITION to the tax relief measures being discussed.

Item 4b – Appeals – The Board approved the following motion:

direct staff to create an appeal process for cannabis application denials prior to may 3 of 2022, look at options for full cost recovery and look at options regarding the continuing of cultivation while an appeal is being processed and bring back to the Board for direction to finalize process draft an ordinance.

– Any denials in the meantime are completely at the discretion of the Cannabis Program Director. Until an appeals process is in place, an applicant who is denied has the ability to file suit against the County if they believe they have been denied in error.

– We had recommended that no denials be proposed until the Appeals process is fully developed.

Thanks to those who made comments and called in and left messages for the Board leading up to today. Every comment makes an impact, especially in aggregate. At this meeting, the Board mentioned specifically that they are used to hearing from a small group of the same people in verbal comment. As we continue to address these issues moving forward I urge you all to join us in making public comments, leaving voice messages, and speaking up so the Board knows that we all stand strong together with a unified voice. We are making progress, but there’s still a lot more work to do, and more hands (and voices) add strength to our efforts. We are truly stronger together!Much love and respect to you as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters.

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