Tag Archives: cannabis

California’s multimillion-dollar pot farms are going up in smoke

Martha C. White, NBC NEWS

Talk about a buzz kill: In addition to charring acres of wine country north of San Francisco, California’s sweeping wildfires are also destroying cannabis farms in and around the state’s Emerald Triangle.

For many producers, the financial losses include not just harvest-ready crops, but recent investments in infrastructure to comply with licensing regulations in preparation for recreational marijuana legalization next year.

“The fires are hitting in an area of California that’s probably the predominant outdoor cultivation site in the country,” said Robert Frichtel, CEO of General Cannabis Corporation. “It has ideal growing conditions — the same reason they grow wine grapes in that region,” he said. “It arguably produces some of the highest-quality cannabis in the country.”

Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association, said it was impossible to know at this point how badly production had been affected, since evacuees from many fire-ravaged areas were not yet being allowed back to their farms.

“The basic reality here is we don’t know. What we know is bad, and it’s going to get a lot worse,” he told NBC News. On Thursday, Allen said he had confirmed that seven growers among his member base had lost their crops, worth between $3 million and $6 million at wholesale; by Friday morning, the number of members with lost crops was up to 21, and the aggressive spread of the fire led him to fear the worst.

Read more at: California’s Multimillion-Dollar Pot Farms Are Going Up in Smoke – NBC News

Filed under Agriculture/Food System

Sonoma County cannabis advisory group begins setting agenda

Julie Johnson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Find more in-depth cannabis news, culture and politics at EmeraldReport.com, authoritative marijuana coverage from the PD.

Sonoma County’s rules for how and where cannabis businesses can operate were codified earlier this year, but the book on local marijuana regulations is far from finished.

Helping the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adjust its local rules is the main job of a 20-person citizen advisory group chosen from cannabis industry players and other interest groups including real estate, agriculture, public health and neighborhoods.

The panel met for the first time Wednesday to start setting an agenda for issues and recommendations to bring before the board.

Read more at: Sonoma County cannabis advisory group begins setting agenda | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use

State money available for cleaning former pot grow sites in Sonoma County

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Toxic chemicals. Dammed creeks. Forest clear-cuts. Abandoned trash.

These kinds of environmental degradation are the scourge of California’s North Coast, the detritus left behind from decades of highly profitable but unregulated marijuana cultivation.

But in a move state officials hope will make a dent in the thousands of remote sites in need of remediation, the Department of Fish and Wildlife is preparing to distribute $1.5 million for an initial round of watershed restoration projects made necessary by widespread and historically unchecked pot production.

“Existing damage to our watersheds due to unregulated cannabis cultivation is at crisis levels in terms of threats to habitat for aquatic and wildlife species,” agency Director Chuck Bonham said in a written news release.

“While many grow sites have been abandoned or shuttered, the infrastructure and ongoing damage remains.”

The newly launched Cannabis Restoration Grant Program reflects growing recognition of the devastating environmental impact of marijuana cultivation on private and public lands, even as public officials and the public itself moved to legalize its use in California, in part so it could be regulated.

Read more at: State money available for cleaning former pot grow sites in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Water

Can marijuana ever be environmentally friendly?

Natasha Geiling, THINK PROGRESS (from April 20, 2016)

Another big issue that the burgeoning cannabis industry will have to confront as legalization becomes increasingly widespread is the industry’s massive environmental footprint. Cannabis is the country’s most energy-intensive crop, largely because around a third of cannabis cultivation in the United States currently takes place in indoor warehouses, a process that requires huge amounts of lighting, ventilation, cooling, and dehumidifying. According to a 2016 report released by New Frontier Financials, cannabis cultivation annually consumes one percent of the United States’ total electrical output, which for a single industry growing a single crop, is a lot — roughly the equivalent of the electricity used by 1.7 million homes. If energy consumption continues at current levels, the electricity used by indoor cannabis operations in the Northwest alone will double in the next 20 years.

One of the first things that Tyson Haworth does when we meet on his farm in rural Oregon is spread his palms out, up toward the April sunshine, and apologize. “I just applied some predatory fungus in the greenhouse,” he says, splaying his fingers and inspecting his hands. He doesn’t use any synthetic pesticides on his farm, he explains, preferring predatory bugs and bacteria and fungi instead, and before he can show me around, he excuses himself to wash his hands in his house adjacent to the farm. Between the farm and the house, on the other side of the gravel driveway that leads visitors from the winding back roads onto Haworth’s property, is a wooden play structure — a sign of Haworth’s two kids, who are the reason he moved from Portland, about thirty miles north, to Canby.

Them, and because it was getting hard to keep growing his cannabis in a garage.

Haworth started cultivating cannabis in 2007, after his wife had to undergo a second back operation. The first time around, she took opiates to manage the pain, but she didn’t want to do that again. So Haworth — who grew up around his father’s wholesale produce company and worked as a manager of a wholesale organic distribution company himself — started growing cannabis, medically, both for his wife and for Oregon’s decades-old medical market. For years, Haworth cultivated cannabis on the side, not able to make enough profits from the medical market to become a full-time cannabis grower. Then, in 2013, Oregon’s medical marijuana market shifted, allowing, for the first time, a legitimate retail component.

And so Haworth put his organic produce job on hold and jumped feet first into cannabis cultivation, moving SoFresh Farms to Canby in 2014. But he didn’t want to completely eschew the decades of knowledge he had gained working in the organic produce industry. And so Haworth decided to do something that not many cannabis farmers were doing at the time: create an organic, sustainable cannabis farm, a place without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, a place that sequesters carbon and helps repopulate native flora. A place that grows cannabis and leaves the environment better for it.

“It’s not enough to not be bad,” Haworth said. “We want to be good. It’s not enough to not be part of the problem, we want to be part of the solution.”

Read more at: Can Marijuana Ever Be Environmentally Friendly?

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Climate Change & Energy, Land Use, Sustainable Living, Water

Sonoma County supervisors ban rural pot cultivation

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Siding with rural residents opposed to cannabis cultivation in their neighborhoods, Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday rejected a proposal to allow small-scale growers to farm marijuana in any rural residential zones outside city limits.

Supervisors Shirlee Zane, David Rabbitt and James Gore voiced strong support for an outright ban, opposing a county Planning Commission recommendation to allow cottage-sized cultivation on rural residential lots of 2 acres in size or more.

The three were forceful in their opposition, with Rabbitt and Gore saying they believe marijuana farms are not an appropriate land use, and Zane adding she’s most worried about crime associated with the industry.

“There’s a lot of violence with home invasions. … I think the crime element has not been discussed enough,” Zane said. “People who live in rural residential (areas) have a right to live in a safe community.”

The board, instead, voted to approve a broader, far-reaching land-use ordinance regulating marijuana cultivation, both indoors and outdoors, on agricultural and industrial zones across the county. Implementation is tied largely to the success of a marijuana cultivation tax set for a March 7 special election, or finding an alternative funding source.

Zane’s comments followed earlier testimony Tuesday from county law enforcement officials, who said crimes associated with marijuana cultivation and trimming appear to be growing in both number and severity.

Read more at: Sonoma County supervisors ban rural pot cultivation | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use

Sonoma County Planning Commission OKs small rural pot gardens

Guy Kovner, THE EMERALD REPORT

Small-scale commercial marijuana gardens would be permitted in Sonoma County’s rural residential areas under a medical cannabis zoning ordinance approved by the county Planning Commission on Nov. 17.

The vote followed a renewed dispute between growers and residents who don’t want the plant cultivated in their neighborhoods.

The five-member commission’s final vote was unanimous, but it acknowledged an impassioned plea by Commissioner Willie Lamberson to reject the so-called “cottage grows” in two rural residential zones.“Wherever marijuana goes, crimes follow. That’s a fact,” Lamberson said. “Nothing good will come of this.”

In a direct appeal to his fellow commissioners, Lamberson, who represents the Fourth District, said: “In good conscience, I can’t vote for something I would not want for myself,” adding that his colleagues should take the same approach.

“Let’s be honest here,” he said. “Eighty or 90 percent of this cannabis ain’t going to dispensaries.”

The proposed land use rules, drafted in a hurry by county officials in the past 10 months, apply only to medical cannabis cultivation and other businesses in the unincorporated area outside the county’s nine cities.

State officials are in the process of establishing regulations for medical pot based on a law enacted by the Legislature last year, and California voters approved adult recreational use of marijuana at the polls last week.

Read more at: Sonoma County Planning Commission OKs small rural pot gardens – The Emerald Report

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use