El Dorado is being sued for holding up cannabis licenses

El Dorado County and its sheriff are being sued by the El Dorado Growers Advocacy Alliance and two cannabis companies for holding up nearly a dozen cannabis growing licenses over criminal background checks.

El Dorado County voters approved up to 150 cannabis growing operations in 2018. To date, no licenses have been issued because of a hitch in the background check process.

Sheriff John D’Agostini, who has the critical role of reviewing applicants’ criminal backgrounds, wants access to the California Department of Justice and the FBI’s Live Scan criminal history database. He hasn’t gotten access. In the meantime, he has offered an alternative background check method that growers have criticized as overly-extensive and invasive.

The alternative process requires background information on everyone with an ownership interest, including spouses, shareholders, and workers on commission, according to the Sacramento Bee. The questionnaire asks about past drug use and other criminal activity even if it did not result in a conviction. It also asks about child support payment history and whether the person has ever resigned from a job in lieu of termination.

“The cannabis permitting process in El Dorado County is broken. The process in place today exposes the county to potential liability for violations of the right to privacy, undermines the will of the voters and deprives the county of the revenue stream from cannabis taxation to enhance the county’s general fund for everything from law enforcement to pot hole repair,” James L. Brunello, attorney for the El Dorado County Growers Alliance, wrote in an Oct. 11 letter to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.

Read more about the lawsuit at Marijuana Moment.


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