Eureka, Ca., (KIEM)- Controlling cannabis cultivation in the county may be easier said than done for the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors (alliteration included). The planning commission presented their recommendation, that the county adopt a new commercial cannabis cultivation ordinance Monday.
The law for coastal and inland cannabis cultivation, processing, manufacturing and testing is a first step toward comprehensive regulation of the newly legalized industry. Just as growers grapple with new codes and taxes, some groups would argue legislators are grappling with policy that moves an industry that’s dwelt long in the shadows into the light.
Just as the planning commissioners presented what they called a “gift” of policy (heavy lifting done) “wrapped in a bow.” Tribal officials and environmental activists prepared to raise their voices to point out what they say are inadequacies in the ordinance.
“We need to make sure that it doesn’t harm our environment, our sacred sights, or our freedom of religion.” Amy Cordalis, the general council for the Yurok Tribe (and a tribal member) explains. “The way the ordinance stands today, we’re concerned that it doesn’t take precautions.. to protect those interests, so we’re asking the county to delay voting on the ordinance.”
The ordinance also lays out a separate resolution that plans to set a “unit cap” per watershed for the number of permits that will be issued. In the past, that unit cap has set at about four permits per individual. The supervisors may consider allowing 5,000 permits per watershed, and 3,000 for “critical watersheds.”
“The county needs to go water shed by watershed and do a real environmental impacts analysis to determine how much cannabis cultivation these rivers and streams can really accommodate.” Greg Tucker, the Natural Resource Policy Advocate for the Karuk Tribe says. “Our fish are in dire straights. If we don’t do something quickly, we’re going to start losing important fish.”
The executive director of the Friends of the Eel River, Stephanie Tidwell, also appeared at the meeting to speak up. “They[The Board of Supervisors] are poised to permit far more cultivation that either our streams or the market can bear.” She explains.
As far as the impact cultivation has on watersheds? Even the planning commission didn’t disagree that extraction and growth operations take a toll on fisheries. “In the Eel River watershed, the South Fork Eel in particular, we have seen pretty alarming levels of summer dewatering and sediment loading to salmon bearing streams.” Tidwell says.
This is not just an environmental. The Yurok and Klamath tribes have been working closely for spiritual reasons. “Our waterways, our mountains, they’re were we practice our religion…. they’re our church.” Frankie Myers, the Yurok Tribal Heritage Preservation Officer tells News Channel 3.
Paul Porter is an advocate for marijuana farmers. His group, Growing Together, provides support and financing for growers. “If they don’t expand permitting, that will be a blow to the county’s economy.” Porter says.