Cannabis farmers and employees protested outside the offices of Sonoma County supervisors in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, demanding that they do more to help them survive.

Cannabis farmers and employees protested outside the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors offices today. The protest was in response to the county’s decision to restrict cannabis cultivation areas after a recent marijuana farm inspection revealed that many farms were operating without permits.

Cannabis-farmers-employees-protest-outside-Sonoma-County-supervisors-offices

 

Cannabis farmers and supporters gathered by the hundreds outside the Board of Supervisors’ office in Santa Rosa on Friday to protest the county’s handling of commercial cannabis regulation and taxes, which they described as excessively onerous and expensive.

Growers claim that county taxes are exorbitant, and that a sluggish, cumbersome municipal licensing procedure has hindered their industry’s growth since California voters approved adult-use recreational marijuana in 2016.

Residents who oppose cannabis farms near their homes have angered growers, who are urging county authorities to relax rules and enable more commercial cannabis operations to operate over a larger area outside of cities.

Growers will be driven out or pushed back into the illegal market unless significant changes are made, they claim.

“They’re overburdening us with unrealistic regulations,” said David Drips, a co-owner of Petaluma Hill Farms and co-organizer of Friday’s protest, which attracted around 80 people.

Farmers and neighbors have been more enraged about safety, water usage, and other neighborhood effects. In a long environmental report approved by supervisors in May, the county agreed to investigate those effects, which is expected to take at least a year to complete.

Meanwhile, cannabis farmers continue to seek and get permission to establish additional farms, although at a slower rate than they would like.

On Sept. 21, the Board of Supervisors will consider a proposed moratorium to stop one permission route — enabling various farms to share property — increasing the stakes for producers.

According to the county’s website, the route was adopted with the goal of assisting small farmers. It enables a property owner to lease land to numerous small-scale farmers as long as the activities do not exceed the maximum cultivation area permitted by the county’s zoning.

Commercial producers must get a state license and apply for a permission via Permit Sonoma, the county’s planning and construction department, under the existing permitting procedure. Depending on criteria like as the size and kind of grow, the county provides a variety of licenses with varying degrees of inspection and public involvement.

Growers who are subjected to the most stringent inspections must apply to the Board of Zoning Adjustments for approval, with appeals handled by the Board of Supervisors. Applicants may also be required to submit environmental studies and attend a public hearing as part of the permission procedure.

Neighbors have requested that the procedure be maintained for a greater number of planned farms. Cannabis producers and their supporters, on the other hand, argue that the county should handle marijuana similarly to other crops, such as grapes, which are regulated by the agriculture commissioner’s office and aren’t subject to the same stringent licensing requirements.

Drips said cannabis supporters are organizing another demonstration in the days leading up to the Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 21 in the hopes of getting their point through.

Drips said, “This is a legitimate business that provides excellent employment with respectable, fair-paying wages.”

The yellow tier sonoma county is a protest that has been happening outside the Sonoma County supervisors’ offices. Cannabis farmers and employees are protesting because they believe that they should be paid more than what they are currently receiving.

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