On Feb 28, attorney and Senior Policy Advisor to MCA Hannah Nelson submitted a letter to the Board of Supervisors calling out Improper Tactics by the Mendocino Cannabis Program in their Vegetation Modification letters sent out to a reported 35 applicants. In it, Hannah raised several serious concerns with the way the program was being rolled out, specifically the level of evidence requested that is not included in the Ordinance, the shifting of the burden of proof to the applicant, and the very short time period applicants had to respond to information for which they had not been asked in several years of operating.
After these concerns were raised by Hannah and many members of the licensed cannabis community, the Mendocino Cannabis Department held a weekly meeting on Feb 25 where it was made clear in no uncertain terms that not only were they prepared to deny applicants’ permits based on their inability to meet the unreasonable demands, but that no ‘after-the-fact’ documentation, even from ‘licensed professionals’ would be accepted as ‘credible evidence’ that no violations had occurred.
In public comments from MCD it has been expressed that Department staff is currently reviewing responses to the letters to determine what steps to take. It is our firm opinion that the Vegetation Modification Letter program should be halted immediately, and that MCD should work with stakeholders to both determine how alleged tree removal is addressed and to ensure that applicants have access to a fair appeal process if they are proposed for denial. To this end MCA has joined with the Attorneys of Unnamed Applicants who have received these Vegetation Modification letters, including Hannah, to draft the document linked below which was sent earlier today to Director Kristin Nevedal of the Mendocino Cannabis Department, as well as the Board of Supervisors and County Counsel. The letter explains various objections to MCD’s letters and proposes a collaborative approach to addressing those objections.
It is the sincere hope of the co-signers of this letter that MCD and the County will agree to our recommendations. If, however, MCD and the County continue on this course of action, a more involved response will be required. We are prepared to do what it takes to stand up with, and for, our community. The immediate threat levied by these letters has led to the need for immediate action.
We will keep you posted as this situation develops, but know that we’ve got your back 100%. #strongertogether