EPIC is urging the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission to focus the county’s new cannabis land use ordinance on getting existing cannabis farms to comply with environmental regulations and enforcing against individuals who refuse to come into compliance, not expand growing by permitting new farms to out-of-area developers intent on getting rich from the green rush. Read EPIC’s letter to the Board of Supervisors.
It’s no secret: cannabis cultivation has caused significant environmental damage, from forest fragmentation, water theft and pollution, loss of wildlife habitat, and noise and light pollution. The vast majority of these impacts are coming from unpermitted operations. According to the County, only 8-13% of Humboldt’s cannabis farms have applied for a land use permit. Faced with such dramatic existing “background” cumulative effects, the county should not add to the problem by permitting new cultivators. Instead, the county should focus its resources on either getting existing operations to comply with our environmental regulations or take enforcement action.
EPIC remains committed to the principle that a well-regulated cannabis industry is best for our environment and community. The proposed land use regulations, if followed, will ensure that an individual operation will have a low impact on the environment, likely below that of other forms of agriculture.
More vigorous enforcement is on the way.
In August, the Board of Supervisors increased the Planning Department’s power to enforce against noncompliant operations. The Supervisors decreased the time between a notice of code violation and an abatement order, from 75 to ten days, as well as the Board’s approval of a drastically steeper fine schedule, with a total maximum fine increasing from $10,000 to $90,000. The County has already dramatically increased the number of employees in its Planning Department to process applications and to enforce against noncompliant operations. We are told that the County now has two employees whose job it is to review aerial imagery to look for noncompliant farms and to notify these operations that the County will begin enforcement against them.