The Humboldt County, California Board of Supervisors last week made permanent its ban on hemp production in incorporated areas, the Times-Standard reports. The unanimous decision extends the county’s current hemp ban, which was enacted in 2018 and was set to expire in May.
The board will likely amend the ban to allow noncommercial hemp cultivation for research purposes, the report said, noting that the College of the Redwoods expressed interest in cultivating hemp for educational and research purposes last year. The board drafted an exception last year for the college.
The ban does not apply to cities and towns, who are allowed to set their own rules, but Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner Jeff Dolf said that there were “only two (hemp) registrants within the incorporated jurisdictions of Arcata and Rio Dell.”
The Planning Commission sought the ban in 2019 to address concerns from medical and adult-use cannabis growers who said hemp cultivation could lead to cross-pollination and the introduction of new pests and pathogens. Humboldt County is widely recognized for its long history of high-quality cannabis cultivation.
Ross Gordon, policy director for the Humboldt County Grower’s Alliance, told the Times-Standard that the vote is “the outcome of over two years of discussion and public process.”
“To begin with, the moratorium that was passed in 2018 was continued in 2019 with several town halls and community discussions…at which many cannabis farmers attended and explained the many risks that industrial hemp poses to the cannabis industry here. …We have a world-renowned cannabis industry. We have the highest density of cannabis farms of anywhere in North America and perhaps the world. Protecting that industry should be our top priority.” – Gordon to the Times-Standard
However, during public comments, some residents opposed the ban. Benjamin Franklin Grant called it “a job killing bill.”
“Tragically, businesses that have started here that make hemp-derived products are moving to Oregon and other places because they can’t function or operate here,” he said during his comments. “We’re losing money in multiple ways and robbing our community members of the opportunity to create jobs and make money for themselves.”
Sunshine Johnston, owner and operator of Sunboldt Grown Farms, warned the ban would “just go from one prohibition to another,” adding that products high in CBD and low in THC are often classified as industrial hemp.
“We could be a premier growing region for medicinal CBD and there’s a lot a lot of people that desire that medicine,” Johnston said during her comments.
Supervisor Mike Wilson suggested that the board could implement a “special permit” for some hemp production in the future.
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