Planning Commission hearing at 1:20 pm this coming Thursday (November 21) at 2550 Ventura Ave., Santa Rosa.
Sonoma County is currently drafting regulations related to the growing of industrial hemp as an agricultural crop. Hemp is similar to cannabis in appearance and odor. Only extremely sophisticated and expensive tests can determine the difference. This means that cannabis could be grown and claimed as hemp. Like cannabis, odor is a huge issue with hemp.Since hemp is considered an agricultural crop, it falls under the Right-To-Farm Act. This means that residents will have little input if hemp is grown on an adjacent property, including how the crop affects their health, safety and quality of life. FOG believes that h emp should be prohibited in all residential zoning and be subject to the same setbacks as cannabis in all zonings due to odor.The most serious impact will be that the Cannabis Ordinance, currently in revision, may become irrelevant. Neighborhood compatibility, such as setbacks to sensitive uses, like parks, (our West County Trail, for instance) or private property could be reduced for cannabis, since it is basically indistinguishable from hemp but has many of the same problems, like odors.
Hemp in Sonoma County will exclusively be grown for the extraction of CBD, the oil that is a popular medical treatment. Land is too expensive here to support growing hemp for fiber or food.
FOG is trying to prevent conflicts that arise from poor land use decisions being made with limited or no public input. This is not an anti-hemp or anti-cannabis effort.
NOW is the time for supporters of our West County Trail to make their voice heard. Please send an email NOW to the Planning Commissioners and do all that you can to attend the hearing at 1:20 pm this coming Thursday (November 21) at 2550 Ventura Ave., Santa Rosa. Email addresses for the Planning Commissioners are provided below.In addition, please save your emails and mark your calendars for December 16, when the Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the Hemp Ordinance. Prepare to send your emails and comments to the Supervisors in advance of their December 16th hearing.
Suggested Bullet Points for your Emails:
- Our West County Trail and the two schools in Graton would not have any setbacks to hemp crops. This is bad land use policy.
- Hemp should be prohibited in all residential zoning and be subject to the same setbacks as cannabis, as the cannabis setbacks were based mostly on the biggest drawback, which is odor.
- This draft ordinance will destroy efforts to regulate cannabis and eviscerate the Cannabis Ordinance, which has taken years to fine tune, wasting thousands of hours of County time and untold amounts of public money.
- Other California counties have enacted setbacks for hemp, presumably to be cautious about introducing a new crop that not only has odors but also can be used to disguise cannabis crops. Unregulated hemp could make our Cannabis Ordinance a moot point.
- According to Sonoma County, the hemp ordinance is exempt from environmental analysis under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This a a new crop and a new law and absolutely should be subject to CEQA. There will be no public hearings or review for any hemp project in Sonoma County.
- The draft ordinance is based on the honor system. It will be the responsibility of the grower to report which crop is being grown. This system does not work and it is too dangerous in this instance to rely on self-reporting. The cannabis industry has expressed their widespread support for this draft hemp ordinance.
- The moratorium on the growing of hemp in Sonoma County, proposed to end in April, 2020, should be continued one year to allow for more study and citizen input. The rush to establish hemp as a crop in Sonoma County will backfire without the time and effort to draft a thorough ordinance that takes into consideration neighborhood concerns and adequate setbacks. Hemp and cannabis should have the exact same setbacks, since there is no practical way to tell them apart.
- A recent news story told of 459 acres in Bakersfield that were reported as industrial hemp but were actually cannabis. https://www.bakersfield.com/news/kcso-hemp-fields-in-arvin-determined-to-be-billion-worth/article_1a2cb128-fc43-11e9-b235-f71d5415b7e0.html
- The scheduling of the Board of Supervisors hearing on this ordinance should be moved to January, 2020, not during the holiday season when people are busy and not available to make comment or attend a public hearing.Send your emails to:
Lynda Hopkins email@example.com
Dick Fogg firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Reed email@example.com
Cameron Mauritson firstname.lastname@example.org
John Lowry JohnLowryCA@gmail.com
Anna Ransome for Friends of Graton