Farmers in San Diego County have worked the fields in the rural/ residential spans of this region for decades – sometimes for generations. They grow tomatoes, avocados and lettuce. They want to continue to farm. But as The San Diego Union Tribune notes, they are looking to expand their yield.
Specifically, they want to start growing marijuana and hemp. They already have the land. They have the skill. They have most of the tools. They argue the best people to grow and cultivate legal marijuana are the people whose families have been farming the region for the better part of the last century.
Unfortunately, their hopes are counter to what the county’s Board of Supervisors may have in mind. The county is looking to possibly outlaw local marijuana cultivation, or else leave it solely up to licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. Both of these approaches cut independent farmers out of this equation entirely.
The State of California recently passed to laws that map out a legal path for outdoor farming of commercial cannabis. State regulators are scheduled to begin doling out licenses to cultivate and distribute recreational marijuana starting in January 2018. These new laws – the Adult Use of Marijuana Act passed in November and the Medical Cannabis Regulation Safety Act of 2015 – require that farms first receive approval for zoning from their local governing body before they can apply for a marijuana license from the state. If a farm doesn’t have a local permit, they can’t get permission from the state to grow the drug, which is imperative if they want to stay on the right side of the law and avoid any federal intervention. Abiding by the state guidelines is the best protection one may have to sidestep federal sanctions, given that the drug still has a Schedule I designation from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The process of getting local approval, though, is mired in bureaucracy and local politics. As of right now, no communities in the San Diego region at least have granted permission for an outdoor cannabis farm. A number of cities outside of that region are scrambling to jump on the bandwagon, recognizing the potential gain in the estimated $7 billion industry.
Support of marijuana farming is one of the best ways for communities to reap the benefits without worrying about some of the other risks that can be involved. Farmers are typically discrete. Their operations are run cleanly and their sales model is business-to-business, which means there aren’t any direct sales to the general public. Perhaps the most attractive element of it is that it garners tens of millions of dollars for local communities in state and local taxes.
For sure, farmers see profits, but there are benefits to the entire community by supporting their endeavors. It’s expected that by 2020, marijuana sales in California will exceed $7 billion, which means there is $1 billion in annual tax and licensing fees that are at stake for the public. Those communities that support legal marijuana are going to be able to take home a larger slice of that pie – for public safety, for schools and other critical services.
The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.
Cannabis farmers seek legal way to grow, Jan. 11, 2017, By Anthony Wagner & Micah Anderson, San Diego Union Tribune
More Blog Entries:
“Where Can I Smoke Pot?” and Other Prop. 64 Questions, Dec. 30, 2016, L.A. Marijuana Lawyer Blog