Santa Cruz Moves Forward on Cultivation and Manufacturing Rules

Santa Cruz County supervisors held an important vote Tuesday that will open the county’s legal market to two critical facets of the marijuana industry.

By a unanimous vote, supervisors approved two proposals to license commercial pot cultivation and manufacturing in unincorporated Santa Cruz. The regulations will head to the Board of the Supervisors for a final vote on May 8 and would take effect one month later.

Santa Cruz was one of the first counties in the state to give the green light to adult-use marijuana dispensaries, but the county has been slower to approve manufacturing and cultivation. Environmental questions continue to be a matter of great concern for many residents.

On Tuesday, Board Chairman Zach Friend acknowledged that further changes will need to be made in the future.

“We don’t know this is going to play out,” said Friend. “We should be honest with the community about that.”

The Santa Cruz Sentinel has details on the rules that were approved:

Among the most restrictive aspects of the rules are who is eligible to receive a license. Only a group of about 750 pot growers who registered with the county in 2016 are eligible for a license in most areas, with the exception of existing farmers in areas zoned for commercial-agricultural use.

Growing in the protected coastal zone, plus a one mile buffer, is restricted to existing structures, and no new cultivation is allowed in timber production zones.

The mixed rural-residential areas of the county in which many pot growers operate also have additional restrictions, including 400-foot setbacks between outdoor cultivation and neighbors homes and a minimum lot size of 2.5 acres for the smallest “cottage” licenses.

Growers took issue with the setback requirements in particular. They leave little room for cultivation, they said.

Read more here.


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