FOG UPDATE – Hemp Crime, Odors and the Board of Supervisors meeting
The two issues that were brought up by many speakers at the Supervisors’ meeting on Monday, January 6 were odors and public safety/crime threat. Hemp, in itself, has street value. It can be used to cut cannabis. If flowering, the buds have value for CBD and there will always be people who mistake it for cannabis. Right now the return from an acre of hemp exceeds that for an acre of cannabis. CBD is more valuable than THC.
The issue of odor has been dismissed as the same as that from any ag crop. A pig farm, decaying broccoli and manure spreading were used as examples. First, those odors do not attract criminals. Second, this is a new crop with a strong odor that makes some people ill. The Ag Commissioner has been telling residents that the whole county is going to stink and we will have to get used to it. Nice.
There is another issue as well and that is the security measures that will be necessary to protect this hugely valuable crop from thieves – security measures that are ugly and disruptive in rural settings. If you lived next to industrial zoning you might expect high fences, razor wire, surveillance cameras, dogs and night lighting. Not in rural areas, though. What this means for wildlife – a patchwork of wildlife-exclusion zones all throughout the county – is another ignored impact.
Hemp is on its way to being approved as an ag crop permitted through the Ag Commissioner’s Office with ministerial (no public input) permits. All that is left is for the Hemp Ordinance to be brought back before the Supervisors as a consent item on the calendar. According to Supervisor Hopkins, changes could possibly be made a year from now, or in 6 months if there are significant complaints about hemp cultivation. Those would likely be mandatory setbacks as opposed to voluntary, but they will be nothing like what was being proposed for cannabis.
If, in the future, cannabis also gets treated as an ag crop, it would mean no recourse for a cannabis project next to your homes and minimal voluntary setbacks, like hemp. We will continue to work to prevent this from happening, but it will take a public outcry to stop it.
Anna Ransome for Friends of Graton (FOG)