Neighbor group: Today’s Fact: 7 Days Until Hemp Meeting on Monday, January 6th

Today’s Fact: 7 Days Until Hemp Meeting on Monday, January 6th   


Day 7.  “Interface” of homes to wildlife habitat and agriculture.  Sonoma County is the highest ranked “small parcel” county in California, reflecting the past history of small parcel development throughout the county. This has created a land use pattern where much of the county’s land areas experience an interface with wildlands, agriculture and homes. As people continue to move into these dispersed rural residential areas (gentrification), conflicts arise when area residents not connected with agriculture are exposed to noise, odors, traffic and other activities. General Plan – “Gentrification”

The makeup of the Ag Commissioner’s informal advisory group did not reflect the three elements of the interface (homes, agriculture and wildlands). The advisory group consisted of zero “neighborhood members” (homes) and one “environmental community members” (wildlands). All the others represented agriculture or THC cannabis industry. Staff Report 11/21/2019. p.3 is inaccurate.

Bottom line: Residents living on rural parcels did not participate in the Hemp Advisory Group and were unable to provide input when the Hemp Ordinance was drafted.




    The vast majority of CBD from industrial hemp is used in the oil-extracted form.  Unlike THC cannabis, little is smoked as bud.  


    Extraction of CBD oil requires manufacturing processes using specialized machinery, either with high heat and pressure (supercritical) CO2 or with the solvent 200 proof ethanol with   subsequent heat distillation.  Ethanol is highly flammable. Equipment to make these oil extraction procedures efficient for large scale use is pricy ($200,000-to over $500,000), and requires a well-ventilated and tightly controlled lab environment and technically-skilled operators.  The industry predicts that centralized large-scale extraction facilities will become the norm due to economies of scale in conjunction with continuing downward price pressure on CBD.


    Extraction of CBD oil is a manufacturing process belonging in industrial zones.  It cannot be likened to the processing of grapes into wine.


  The THC cannabis ordinance bans more volatile solvents and restricts all oil-extraction operations (manufacturing) to industrial zones.  Much larger-scale operations are likely for industrial hemp.


   Equipment options for CBD extraction:






The Ag Commissioner MAY adopt, amend or rescind required best management practices. Section 37-6A of the Draft Hemp ordinance/ Required BMP’s

Parallel language on Recommended BMP’s in Section 37-6B of the Draft Hemp ordinance.

Even if the BMP’s are mandatory the Ag Commissioner can revise or rescind them at will.

Bottom line: BMP’s are totally up to the Ag Commissioner



Day 10.  Best Management Practices or BMP’s are “recommended” by the Ag Department and are voluntary. BMP’S clarify general good farming practices but they are not mandatory and they cannot be enforced.


BMP’s include recommendations on some of the following types of farming operations: pesticide and fertilizer storage and use, riparian protection, water use and storage, erosion control, soil disturbance, tree trimming, grading and drainage, etc.


If BMPs were MANDATORY the County could track the present and future environmental impacts. CEQA obligates the lead agency to track its environmental impacts.


Mandatory BMPs are particularly important for impaired watersheds and areas that are water scarce.




Day 11. The Ag Zones. The existing General Plan land use plan includes three agricultural land use categories: Land Intensive Agriculture (LIA) 74,255 acres or 7.7%, Land Extensive Agriculture (LEA) 186,462 acres or 19.3%, and Diverse Agriculture (DA) 68,845 acres or 7.1%.


Total acreage designated as agricultural land use is 326,562 acres or 34.1% of the total acreage in Sonoma County. General Plan


1,595 of these parcels are over 10 acres. Staff Report File#ORD18-0003, June 7, 2018, page 10


Designation of parcels was based on multiple considerations, including the parcel size, lack of infrastructure, distance from public services, access, conflicts with resource conservation and production, and topographic and environmental features.


“Right to Farm” applies to Ag zones only but operation can still be declared a nuisance the first three years if a nuisance from the beginning.


The recommendation of the Ag Commissioner provides for no regulatory authority to enforce setbacks to parks, schools or homes in the adjacent non-ag zones. Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for hemp are recommended not mandatory.



Day 12.  CRITICAL WATERSHEDS. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in collaboration with Fish and Wildlife (CDRW) has attempted to protect fish in five areas of Sonoma County. During the last drought the SWRCB put restrictions on rural residents in regard to water usage from their own wells: no watering of landscaping or vegetable gardens, no car washing and a 25% reduction in domestic use in five critical watersheds. Agriculture is exempt from such curtailments. The Attached map shows the areas which were put on restriction during the drought. They are the critical spawning and rearing reaches of Mark West Creek Watershed, Green Valley Creek Watershed, Dutch Bill Creek Watershed, Mill Creek Watershed and sub-watersheds of these creeks. Curtailment of only rural residents and not agriculture was not adequate to prevent summer die off of fish in these creeks including those planted as part of the Coho restoration program at Warm Springs dam.


Day 13. The land use designation RRD stands for Resources and Rural Development. RRD designation is used to protect the county’s natural resource lands and allows for only very low-density residential development. Resources to be protected include commercial timber land, lands within the Known Geothermal Resource Area (KGRA), lands identified in the County’s Aggregate Resources Management Plan and natural resource lands including watershed, fish and wildlife habitat and other biotic areas. (General Plan)


Development in RRD results in two primary environmental consequences: habitat loss and fragmentation and the degradation of water resources and water quality. RRD lands account for 51% of the total acreage in Sonoma County and contain 492,658 acres much of which is heavily forested and mountainous. (General Plan).


RRD is not a “right to farm” zone.






Day 14. The General Plan includes the category “Residential Land Uses” (few if any urban services but access to county roads) and consists of 75,588 acres or 7.8% of the total county . Slightly more than half of these residential lands are zoned Agriculture and Residential (AR) with the remainder designated Rural Residential (RR). According to the Hemp Draft, AR zoning “allows … agriculture, but the primary use remains residential”. Given the similarity to cannabis and the shared unique incompatibility issues, prohibiting hemp cultivation in AR would avoid conflicts. THC pot is prohibited in AR.




 Day 15. State law allows counties to tailor their hemp program to meet the values and societal priorities of their counties. Example: The Monterrey County BOS decided that hemp is  just like cannabis and should be managed and permitted the same. Hemp is allowed in either industrial or agricultural zones but not in any residential combined or resources zones. Permits are required, 1,000 foot buffer zones between cultivation and residences is mandatory and there is a limit to the number in their pilot program. Monterrey County wants to keep hemp where it should be grown and avoid conflicts.


Day 16. The California Department of Public Health and the U.S. FDA inform that the use of hemp-derived CBD as a food additive or dietary supplement has not been approved and is not allowed.


Day 17. The “Right to Farm” protection is not inviolate. It only applies to Ag crops grown on Ag land (DA, LIA and LEA), and an operation can be declared a nuisance (per State law) for up to three years after the start of the operation if it was a nuisance at the start.

There is no time restriction on declaring any Ag operation a nuisance at any time if such operation is in the other zones (RR, AR and RRD).  

           All hemp is cultivation is new. It is our goal to prevent and avoid conflicts.

 Day 18. The “Right to Farm” law applies to only AG zones (DA, LIA and LEA). Hemp is a “right to farm”crop, THC pot is not.