Medical Pot Cultivation Permits
by Jane Futcher, June 8, 2016
Mendocino County Undersheriff Randy Johnson told a packed audience in Laytonville Thursday how to apply for a medical cannabis cultivator’s permit under the Urgency Ordinance passed by the Mendocino Board of Supervisors last month.
Johnson said farmers will find “a lot of flexibility this year” in the program this year.
“I’m not throwing anybody under the bus,” he told about 100 farmers, who listened intently to his May 26 presentation at the Laytonville Grange. “When we come out and inspect I don't want to see more than 99 plants.”
Johnson warned that medical cannabis cultivators can expect “no flexibility” in future years, when the county completes its permanent ordinance and state regulations kick in.
Applications for the medical cannabis cultivation program are available from the Sheriff’s Office (SO) and online at http://www.mendocinosheriff.com/.
Johnson spelled out some of the program’s key requirements:
(-) Submission by July 18 of a cultivation application for up to 99 plants (or equivalent square footage) on parcels of 10 acres or more to the Sheriff’s Office (SO) with a non-refundable $1500 application fee.
(-) One initial inspection by the SO (and 3 additional inspections of participating farms).
(-) Purchase of a $50-zip tie from the county treasurer for each plant (if farm is approved). Receipts of purchase must be taken to the SO for collection of zip ties.
(-) Compliance with all county zoning regulations.
(-) Building-permit amnesty to participants who are attempting to correct permit issues.
(-) Optional application to the Agriculture Department for cultivation of up to 25 plants.
(-) Placement of a six-foot metal wildlife fence with locked gate around all cannabis gardens.
(-) Enclosed pesticide and chemical storage.
(-) Submission of valid doctor’s medical recommendation with application.
(-) Parole clearance required for those with criminal records.
(-) Multiple permits to the same farmer are not permitted but may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Multiple permits on the same parcel are not permitted but could in some cases be reviewed.
Johnson said that while he doubts the federal government will investigate the program, his department would turn over farmer information if it were subpoenaed.
Participation in the program will not protect cultivators discovered selling their medical cannabis illegally.
“If you get caught selling to black market you are done,” Johnson said. “And all the information [you submitted] will be provided to help prosecute you. You make every marijuana farmer look bad.”
Johnson said the Sheriff will not require or expect farmers to show proof of compliance with North Coast Regional Water Quality Board regulations or state Water Board use requirements. However, he said, the county will insist on knowing where a farmer’s water comes from.
“Have your paperwork ready if you are drawing out of a creek,” Johnson said.
Many of those attending the meeting appreciated Johnson’s candor and non-threatening manner.
"It was great to start establishing open channels of communication between the program administrators and the community of farmers seeking permits,” said California Growers Association Board President Casey O’Neill of Laytonville after the meeting. “Undersheriff Randy Johnson was very approachable, and as an association the California Growers is in full support of the program.”
(Jane Futcher hosts The Cannabis Hour on KZYX FM every other Thursday morning at 9am.)