How To Get A Pot Grower’s Permit
by Mark Scaramella, March 21, 2010
Part of this week’s County Board of Supervisors Agenda Packet is the draft of the new marijuana cultivation rules for collectives and cooperatives. According to an introductory note by County Counsel Jeanine Nadel, “The proposed amendment allows for an exemption from the 25 plants per parcel limitation to those who apply for, obtain and comply with a permit from the Sheriff that will allow for the cultivation of up to 99 plants per parcel. The minimum parcel size for the exemption is five acres. The applicant must complete an extensive application process and comply with numerous conditions, including the purchase of zip-ties for each plant subject to the exemption. The revised ordinance will require an on site inspection of the premises for which the permit is issued. The Sheriff shall establish and maintain a list of qualified inspectors who shall conduct inspections and make reports to the Sheriff for use in making determinations on permit approvals.”
The operative phrase is: “an extensive application process.”
As a public service to pot growers, stoners, patients and caregivers, we present here for your information what you will have to do — IF THESE DRAFT RULES ARE ADOPTED — to get a permit to grow more than 25 marijuana plants on a single parcel in Mendocino County.
Section 9.31.110 Requirements for Exemption from the Twenty-five (25) Plants Per Parcel Limitation.
(A) Medical marijuana growing collectives, individual members thereof, or individual patients who possess a valid doctor’s recommendation stating that more than twenty five (25) plants is necessary to meet the medical needs of the patient may be granted an exemption from the limitations set forth in Section 9.31.070 provided they apply for and obtain a permit from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office. Any legal parcel for which an exemption is sought shall be a minimum of five (5) acres in size and under no circumstances shall the permitted amount exceed ninety-nine (99) plants per legal parcel. A separate permit application shall be required for each parcel for which permission to exceed the twenty-five (25) plants per parcel limitation is sought. All permits shall be site specific and once issued shall not be transferred or sold. All permits that have been issued are subject to annual renewal.
(B) The permit procedure shall include an application, which shall set forth, under penalty of perjury, all of the following:
(1) The name and address of each person applying for the permit and any other person who will be engaged in the management of the collective;
(2) A unique identifying number from a State of California Driver's License or Identification Card for each person applying for the permit and any other person who will be engaged in the management of the collective;
(3) Written evidence that each person applying for the permit and any other person who will be engaged in the management of the collective is at least eighteen (18) years of age;
(4) That the applicant or any individual engaged in the management of, or employed by, the collective has not been convicted of a violent felony as defined in Penal Code Section 667.5 (c) within the State of California, or a crime that would have constituted a violent felony as defined in Penal Code Section 667.5 (c) if committed in the State of California and is not currently on parole or felony probation. A conviction within the meaning of this Section means a plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere;
(5) A statement acknowledging that the permit applied for will be issued in conformance with the laws of the State of California and that such issuance does not confer upon the applicant, managers, employees and members of the collective immunity from prosecution under federal law;
(6) The applicant’s waiver and release of the County from any and all legal liability related to or arising from the application for a permit or the enforcement of the conditions of the permit;
(7) The location of the parcel where the cultivation of medical marijuana will occur;
(8) The number of plants for which an exemption is sought and the measures that will be taken to minimize odor-related complaints, or a statement explaining why such measures are not necessary;
(9) Proof that the owner of the property, if other than the applicant, has been notified as set forth in Section 9.31.080;
(10) A statement that the requested use will not violate the limitation locations set forth in Section 9.31.090;
(11) A statement that the requested use will not violate the fencing requirements set forth in Section 9.31.100;
(12) A statement describing the proposed security measures for the facility that shall be sufficient to ensure the safety of members and employees and protect the premises from theft;
(13) A statement describing the proposed source of power for indoor and/or outdoor cultivation (electric utility company, solar, diesel generators), the size of the electrical service or system, and the total demand to be placed on the system by all proposed uses on site. This statement shall be referred to the Department of Building and Planning and may be referred to the appropriate Fire District for a determination if additional conditions, permits or inspections shall be required;
(14) If diesel generators are proposed to be used on site, a detailed description of the proposed methods of storage, delivery and containment of the diesel fuel must be included. This statement shall be referred to the Department of Environmental Health and the Air Quality Management District for a determination if additional conditions, permits or inspections shall be required;
(15) If the applicant is organized as a non-profit corporation, the applicant shall set forth the name of the corporation exactly as shown in its Articles of Incorporation, and the names and residence addresses of each of the officers and/or directors. If the applicant is organized as a partnership, the application shall set forth the name and residence address of each of the partners, including the general partner and any limited partners. Copies of the Articles of Incorporation or Partnership Agreement shall be attached to the application;
(16) The applicant shall provide proof of either, a physician recommendation that the amount to be cultivated is consistent with the applicant’s medical needs, the needs of the patients for whom the applicant is a caregiver, or a written agreement or agreements, that the applicant is authorized by one or more medical marijuana dispensing collectives to produce medical marijuana for the use of the members of said collective or collectives;
(17) A statement that the requested use will not utilize water that has been or is illegally diverted from any stream, creek, or river;
(18) A statement describing the measures that will be taken to prevent erosion or contaminated runoff into any stream, creek or river, or an explanation of why such measures are not necessary;
(19) Submission of payment of a permit fee sufficient to cover the cost to all County departments of investigating and processing the application in an amount that shall be set by the Board of Supervisors in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations;
(20) That upon receiving a completed permit application for an exemption from the twenty-five (25) plants per legal parcel limitation, the Sheriff shall refer the application to the Department of Planning and Building for a determination of the zoning, parcel size, surrounding uses and other relevant information;
(21) That the Sheriff is hereby authorized to require in the permit application any other information reasonably related to the application including, but not limited to, any information necessary to discover the truth of the matters set forth in the application;
(22) Authorization for the Sheriff, Fire District, and/or other appropriate County employees or agents or their designees, including building and fire inspectors, to enter the property only during normal business hours for the purpose of examining the location to confirm compliance with this Section.
(C) No permit shall be issued if the Sheriff finds:
(1) That the applicant has provided materially false documents or testimony; or
(2) That the applicant has not complied fully with the provisions of this Chapter; or
(3) That the operation as proposed by the applicant, if permitted, would not have complied with all applicable laws, including, but not limited to, the Building, Planning, Housing, Fire, and Health Codes of the County, including the provisions of this Chapter and regulations issued by the Sheriff pursuant to this Chapter.
(D) All permits shall be issued within ten (10) business days from completion of inspection by the Sheriff as set forth herein, or from receipt of report if inspected by a third party inspector as defined herein.
(E) Medical marijuana collectives and individual permittees shall comply with all of the following:
(1) Operate on a non-profit basis as set forth in Section B.1. of the Attorney General’s Guidelines;
(2) Apply for and obtain a County business license from the office of the Treasurer-Tax Collector;
(3) Apply for and obtain a Board of Equalization Seller’s Permit and collect and remit sales tax to the Board of Equalization if they intend to sell directly to qualified patients or primary caregivers;
(4) Employ only persons who are at least eighteen (18) years of age and comply with all applicable state and federal requirements relating to the payment of payroll taxes including federal and state income taxes and/or contributions for unemployment insurance, state workers’ compensation and liability laws;
(5) Follow the membership and verification guidelines as set forth in Section B.3. of the Attorney General’s Guidelines, except that wherever “should” appears it shall be replaced with “shall”;
(6) Require all prospective members to complete and sign a written membership application acknowledging and agreeing to abide by all the rules of the collective and all applicable requirements of this Section;
(7) Prohibit sales to non-members as set forth in Section B.5. of the Attorney General’s Guidelines;
(8) Allow reimbursements and allocations of medical marijuana as set forth in Section B.6. of the Attorney General’s Guidelines;
(9) Possess marijuana only in amounts consistent with the medical needs of the members of the collective; and only cultivate marijuana consistent with the limits of the exemption granted pursuant to a permit issued in conformance with this Section, but in no case more than ninetynine (99) plants per parcel;
(10) Indoor marijuana cultivation shall be limited to a single indoor growing area that shall not exceed one hundred (100) contiguous square feet per legal parcel;
(11) Secure all buildings where marijuana is cultivated or stored, sufficient to prevent unauthorized entry;
(12) Purchase and attach a zip-tie to any flowering marijuana plant that is grown in compliance with a permit that has been issued pursuant to a request for exemption.
(13) In lieu of the requirements of Section 9.31.070 (B), display copies of the permit issued pursuant to this Section, in a conspicuous place at the entrance to each garden area and immediately inside the entrance to any building where medical marijuana is cultivated, processed, or stored;
(14) Cultivated marijuana plants shall not be visible from the public right of way, or from publicly traveled private roads;
(15) Exterior signage shall consist only of the site address;
(16) Traffic to the site shall be limited to employees and/or members who are essential to the cultivation of medical marijuana;
(17) Designate the premises where cultivation occurs as the point of sale for all transactions subject to the state sales tax;
(18) All weighing and measuring devices shall be inspected by the Agricultural Commissioner in accordance with Mendocino County Code Chapter 10A.16.
(F) As an alternative to the on site inspection by the Sheriff called for in Section 9.31.110 (B) (22) of this Ordinance, the Permittee may, at their expense, select a qualified third party inspector from a list that shall be established and maintained by the Sheriff and who shall be authorized to conduct said inspection. Nothing herein shall limit the ability of Fire District or other appropriate County employees or agents from entering the property to conduct the inspections authorized by this Ordinance or the ability of the Sheriff to make independent compliance checks. The Sheriff shall determine the criteria for establishing the list of third party inspectors and may request any information specified in Section 9.31.110 (B) of this Ordinance or any other information the Sheriff deems reasonably related to verification of the qualifications of the third party inspector. The third party inspector shall submit a detailed written report to the Sheriff regarding each of the items inspected/verified, including recommendations for improvements to the operation.
(G) The third party inspector, as authorized by the Sheriff, shall inspect and verify all of the following:
1. The identity of the person(s) assisting in the inspection and their relationship to the applicant/collective.
2. That the address and/or location of the parcel conforms to that specified in the application.
3. That exterior signage is limited to the address of the location.
4. The precise location(s) where the marijuana is to be cultivated, processed and/or stored.
5. The location, if any, where marijuana is to be grown indoors, that it not exceed a single space of not more than one hundred (100) contiguous square feet, the source of power, the number and wattage of lights, and any indicia of substandard electrical conditions.
6. That marijuana cultivated on the site will not violate the limitation locations set forth in Section 9.31.090.
7. That marijuana cultivated on the site will not violate the fencing requirements set forth in Section 9.31.100.
8. That marijuana cultivated on site will not violate the prohibition on objectionable odors set forth in Section 9.31.040 (C).
9. That marijuana cultivated on site will not violate the lighting requirements and limitations set forth in Sections 9.31.040 (D) and (E).
10. That the security measures for the site are sufficient to ensure the safety of members and employees and protect the premises from theft.
11. That all buildings where marijuana is cultivated or stored are secured sufficiently to prevent unauthorized entry.
12. The source of power for indoor and/or outdoor cultivation (electric utility company, solar, diesel generators), the size of the electrical service or system, and the total demand to be placed on the system by all proposed uses on site;
13. That the diesel generators, fuel and waste oil, if any, to be used on site are stored, delivered and contained as specified in the application.
14. That the site does not utilize water that has been or is illegally diverted from any stream, creek or river.
15. That appropriate measures have been taken to prevent erosion or contaminated runoff into any stream, creek or river.
16. That upon any subsequent inspection copies of the permit are displayed in conformance with Section 9.31.110 (D) (16).
17. That zip-ties are properly attached to any flowering marijuana plant grown in compliance with the permit specified in this Section.
18. That a valid County business license has been obtained from the office of the Treasurer-Tax Collector.
19. That a Board of Equalization Seller's Permit has been obtained if the permittee intends to sell directly to qualified patients or primary caregivers.
20. That the applicant has sufficient collective membership, or is a member of and has an agreement with one or more dispensing collectives sufficient to account for the total amount of marijuana produced or estimated to be produced pursuant to a permit issued in conformance with this Section.
21. That the applicant has established procedures and systems sufficient to do all of the following:
(a) comply with all applicable state and federal requirements relating to the payment of payroll taxes including federal and state income taxes and/or deductions for unemployment insurance, state workers' compensation and liability laws;
(b) comply with the membership and verification guidelines as set forth in Section B.3. of the Attorney General's Guidelines;
(c) maintain records of the signed membership applications of all members;
(d) maintain records of the total amount of marijuana produced;
(e) track and report all sales subject to sales tax;
(f) prevent sales or diversion to non-members as set forth in Section B.5. of the Attorney General's Guidelines;
(g) allow reimbursements and allocations of medical marijuana as set forth in Section B.6. of the Attorney General's Guidelines.
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The Sheriff's Office shall review all permit and renewal applications, and all other relevant information, and determine, based on current information, if the permit should be granted or renewed. If the Sheriff's Office determines that the permit should not be granted or renewed, the reasons for such denial shall be in writing. The applicant shall then have fourteen (14) business days to correct the reasons for denial and request a re-inspection of the property. The cost of any reinspection shall be borne by the applicant. The applicant may appeal such decision by filing a written notice with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors within ten (10) days stating the grounds for the appeal. Such notice of appeal shall be accompanied by the payment of an appeal fee which shall be set by resolution of the Board of Supervisors in accordance with all applicable laws, regulations and the Master Fee Policy. If a notice of appeal is not filed and the required fee paid within the ten (10) day appeal period, the decision of the Sheriff's Office shall be final.