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Cannabis Cultivation approved for regulation in Santa Rosa


Cannabis Cultivation approved for regulation in Santa Rosa

Local growers, cannabis business operators, politicians, and ‘all of the above’ Councilmember Robert Jacob team up to effectively advocate for cannabis in Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa considers alternative to ban on cannabis cultivation

The Santa Rosa City Council is scheduled to meet on January 19th to vote on whether the city will ban cannabis cultivation within city limits, among other cannabis activities. 

Just last Monday, the Santa Rosa City Council appointed Medical Marijuana Policy Subcommittee decided which recommendations to make to the full council regarding whether to ban the commercial cultivation of cannabis within city limits. The subcommittee decided unanimously  to instead recommend that cultivation facilities should be permitted via a conditional use process, with stated intent to create this permitting by Sept 1, 2016. 

The January 19th Santa Rosa City meeting agenda item on cannabis states, “this item was prepared in response to a March 1, 2016 deadline stipulated in Assembly Bill 243 and provides the City with an opportunity to retain local control over medical cannabis cultivation by responding by the deadline.” The new state MMRSA laws require that each city and county enact a process for managing cannabis permits by March 1, 2016, or risk losing that control to a state licensing system. Because of this state-imposed deadline, the Santa Rosa City Council will be meeting on January 19th to vote on whether the city will ban cannabis cultivation within city limits or come up with an alternative cultivation ordinance.

Just a few miles west of Santa Rosa is the City of Sebastopol, which allows for cannabis cultivation. In December, the Sebastopol City Council supported a resolution to encourage Sonoma County to enact local ordinances which permit cannabis activities, such as growing cannabis. The Sebastopol Resolution, championed by Councilmember Robert Jacob, urges the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and all Sonoma County cities to establish new rules for permitting the medical cannabis industry in accord with state laws signed by Governor Brown in October. However, the neighboring city of Santa Rosa appeared to be set in a different direction by considering an outright ban on cultivation.

The unanimous recommendation by the marijuana sub-committee to regulate commercial cultivation instead of banning it creates an opportunity where the full council may permit such activity, now an agenda item at their upcoming meeting. The bar is set higher as the vote is for an urgency ordinance, requiring a 5 out of 7 vote to pass. 

“Banning cultivation in order to maintain local control is not the tactic that should be emulated by any city. There are many ways to maintain control that don’t force legal and compliant growers to go back to the ages of prohibition,” said Craig Litwin of Citizens for Responsible Access.

Jacob continues- “I am concerned that banning cultivation within the city would have adverse consequences. The negative impact would be felt not only by patients, but by small cultivators as well; mom and pop businesses supplementing their Social Security or those simply trying to make ends meet.”

In regard to the ban on growing cannabis within city limits, Robert Jacob, who is also the Executive Director and CEO of the Santa Rosa dispensary Peace in Medicine said, “This is the threat that I see to Peace in Medicine, that the growing network of above-board, compliant industry professionals would be compromised and pushed back underground into the gray areas of prohibition.”