Supervisors Leopold and Friend Propose Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee

At the June 23, 2015, meeting of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, representatives John Leopold and Zach Friend proposed the formation of a “Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee.” If formed, the 13 member committee, limited to a term of six months, will work to create a policy framework for the Board to adopt for regulating medical cannabis cultivation in Santa Cruz County.

The Supervisors want a committee of community members to develop recommendations that “protect our neighborhoods, protect our environment, and ensure that there is an adequate supply of medical cannabis for those who have a doctor’s recommendation.”

Calling for a Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee

Supervisors Leopold and Friend wrote a letter to their fellow board members, and to five local cannabis organizations, which chronologically outlines their reasons for proposing the Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee. In it they write, “Our Board has honestly and forthrightly attempted to craft a successful policy. Now we turn to the community for their experience and expertise to propose solutions to this complex issue.”

In calling for “adequate representation of all voices in this discussion,” it is proposed that the committee include 13 members, as follows:

  • Each of the five Supervisors shall nominate one person who “may reside” within their district.
  • One member of the Association for Standardized Cannabis (ASC).
  • One member of Responsible Cultivation for Santa Cruz (RCSC).
  • One member of Santa Cruz Mountains for Sustainable Cannabis Medicine (SCM2).
  • One member of Cannabis Advocates Alliance (CAA).
  • One member of Santa Cruz Veterans Alliance (SCVet).
  • The remaining three members shall be at-large appointments.

In their mostly accurate chronology, Supervisors Leopold and Friend write:

“Over the last three years, our Board has wrestled with developing effective and enforceable regulations regarding the cultivation of medical cannabis. Many ideas have been discussed and an ordinance was adopted in February 2014. After 11 months without adequate enforcement and as a result of the egregious actions of some commercial cultivators, the Board was forced to reconsider its regulations to address the impacts this ordinance created. In March 2015, the Board adopted a ban on the commercial cultivation of medical cannabis on a split vote.

“Members of the cultivation community who felt this new ban was unfair used a tool provided in state law to seek sufficient signatures to repeal the March ordinance change or put the matter on the ballot. In May, this group submitted over 11,000 signatures calling on the Board to repeal the ordinance. The County Clerk has now certified the referendum petitions, and we expect that our Board will be further addressing this issue in August.

“We think it is appropriate to consider revisiting our ordinance on commercial medical cannabis cultivation with the help of the community. The board has heard hours of testimony and debated many policy choices as we considered our ordinance. In light of the referendum campaign, it may be time to ask key stakeholders to work together to fashion a policy framework for our Board to adopt in the future.”

Next Steps for Cannabis Cultivation Choices Committee

Supervisors Leopold and Friend requested that representatives of the five selected cannabis organizations submit letters to the Chairman of the Board on or before July 10, 2015, recommending the appointment of a representative to serve on the Committee. This would allow the Board to consider these appointments at the next Board of Supervisors meeting on August 4, 2015, with final approval to be considered at the following Board meeting on August 18.

Background Information and Resources