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Time is running out for legal cannabis industry

December 21, 2020 — The legal cannabis industry in Mendocino County is more uncertain than ever, with a local ordinance that does not set up local growers for success in getting their annual licenses from the state. Those will be required by the first of the year in 2022.

The local program started out in the ag department, which is on its fifth ag commissioner since the regulatory process started, then moved over to planning and building, where Megan Dukett is now the second cannabis program manager to try to sort things out. She’s the third, if you count Kelly Overton, who fled into the desert after a few months on the job amid purported clashes with Harinder Grewal, the ag commissioner whose legal troubles with the county have surfaced in closed sessions of the board of supervisors.

More than a thousand growers are in the queue to get their permits from the county, which does not require site-specific environmental reviews but does call for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct sensitive species reviews on potential grow sites. However, there’s no funding to pay the agency to do that work, and CDFW has not indicated that it’s willing to do the job for free.

Meanwhile, growers have gotten tired of resubmitting minutiae-laden paperwork and paying to bring their properties up to a standard that’s acceptable for growing weed. A huge problem for Dukett is that many of the applications are incomplete. She reported that the response rate to letters from her office requesting more information has been less than stellar. 

At a cannabis town hall last week, led by Supervisors John Haschak and Ted Williams, Haschak said that, in light of the fast-approaching deadline for annual licences, the focus of conversations with state leadership has been about the California requirement for site-specific CEQA reviews. 

Local News