Gasp! CCVH Supports Local Environmental Groups’ Suggestions for Humboldt County Cannabis Ordinance

marijuana leafA joint letter offered by major local environmental groups (EPIC, NEC, Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment, and Humboldt Baykeeper) in support of a countywide cannabis ordinance that addresses certain issues (see letter below) went out today to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.

Luke Bruner, frequent spokesperson for California Cannabis Voice Humboldt, forwarded the letter to several members of the state government stating that CCVH is “in full agreement.” He states that with these changes this could lead to “a Statewide Framework this year in Sacramento.”

We will begin adopting all proposed changes from this letter immediately in conjunction with Nossaman LLP’s unparalleled Land Use team, as well as other additional changes/recommendations that have been requested/provided from leading environmental groups such as CalTrout, Trout Unlimited, and the California Nature Conservancy.  Specific approval from our CCVH board will be required to agree to adopt a sunset provision of August 13th 2020 (the water board sunset date), and I am confident it will be obtained.  This meshes well with the clear provisions allowing the Humboldt Board of Supervisors to modify the text with a simple 3/5ths majority vote.
We firmly believe that, with these changes, the Land Use and Tax documents can provide the necessary local regulatory template framework for rural counties around California– adjusting squarefootage, tax, and permit matters as best fits their community needs and values, or banning outright if necessary.  Local control!
The Cannabis Community is deeply appreciative and exceedingly grateful for the extensive work put into this project by the best hearts & minds of Humboldt County, and leading experts from around the State and Nation.


Below is the letter sent to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors from the environmental groups.

After much deliberation and discussion of California Cannabis Voice Humboldt’s (CCVH) proposed Humboldt County Cannabis Cultivation Compliance Initiative, Draft 7, the undersigned environmental advocacy organizations have developed the following recommendations aimed at addressing permitting and licensing for existing operations and mitigating ongoing environmental impacts of the cannabis industry.

On August 13, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board approved Order No. 2015-­‐0023, Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements and General Water Quality Certification for Discharges of Waste Resulting from Cannabis Cultivation and Associated Activities or Operations with Similar Environmental Effects. The order is explicit in its reach in that it only applies to existing operations. CCVH’s draft ordinance is largely focused on existing operations and relies on the county’s conditional use permit process to impose limits on the location and scale of future operations. As such, we agree that an ordinance be written in a manner to focus on existing operations and that all new commercial operations and expansion of existing ones should be required to first obtain a conditional use permit until such a time as the County enacts policies governing such activities.

Given the Regional Board’s order, current legislation to regulate medicinal marijuana/cannabis that is advancing in Sacramento, and the anticipated legalization of recreational cannabis in California, we believe a county-­‐based land use ordinance is necessary to support responsible cultivators while drawing a clear line as to what activities are and are not acceptable. Such a framework must address the damage that our watersheds, forests and communities are suffering in the absence of appropriate environmental regulation and enforcement. It is particularly imperative to take action now given that salmon streams are imperiled due to the unprecedented expansion of the North Coast’s cannabis industry in conjunction with the combined impacts of decades of harmful logging practices and ongoing severe drought. [Bold added for emphasis.]

Although some watersheds are beyond carrying capacity to support the number of existing diversions while still supporting salmon, steelhead, and other aquatic species, many of these impacts can be ameliorated through mitigation and remediation that must be incorporated to ensure both adequate water quality and water quantity.

Forest fragmentation is an increasing problem in Humboldt County; because of this, large tracts of forest are increasingly being broken into smaller parcels for new residences and/or commercial agricultural ventures. Fragmentation poses a serious threat to the values our forests provide.

Any ordinance adopted by the County should be consistent with the Regional Board’s order. As such, we believe that ministerial permits for existing operations would be acceptable only if they meet the following standards:

  • Require evidence of adequate water storage and no surface water diversion between May 15-­‐Oct. 31.

  • Require evidence of compliance with existing applicable regulations, including enrollment in the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board’s Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements and General Water Quality Certification for Discharges of Waste Resulting from Cannabis Cultivation and Associated Activities or Operations with Similar Environmental Effects in the North Coast Region (Order No. 2015-­‐0023); approved 1600 permits from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife; approved County grading permits; timberland conversion permits; registered, legal water rights; etc.

  • Require Ministerial Permits for grows with cultivation areas between 2,000-­‐ 10,000 sq. ft.1 Require Ministerial Permits for grows with cultivation areas between 2,000-­‐10,000 sq. ft. that meet all conditions of either Tier 1 or Tier 2* of the Regional Board’s cannabis order, including no cultivation or associated activities within 200 ft. of surface water and on less than 35% slope.

For all other operations:

  • Require Conditional Use Permits for all grows with cultivation areas greater than 10,000 sq. ft. or located less than 200 feet from all surface water or located on slopes greater than 35% as per Regional Board’s Cannabis order, Tier 2.

In addition, the ordinance must:

  • Ensure an adequate fee structure to fully fund program oversight and inspections. The County must establish new adequate revenue sources— whether fees, taxes, or both—to ensure that the ordinance is implementable and enforceable.

1 As measured by the perimeter around cultivation areas, not by plant canopy size.

  • Include a sunset clause that coincides with the sunset and renewal of the Regional Board’s Order No. 2015-­‐0023, since it is a pilot program.

  • Consistent with Regional Board Order No. 2015-­‐0023, standards should be based on cumulative cultivation area, as measured by the perimeter around cultivation areas, not plant canopy size as provided in draft 7 of the CCVH ordinance.

  • Remove reference to specific allowances for cannabis cultivation on Timber Production Zone (TPZ) lands.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments as our region grapples with this complex issue. Our individual organizations may have additional comments that are not addressed in this unified position, and we collectively and individually intend to comment further on future cannabis cultivation policy proposals.


/s/ Natalynne DeLapp, Executive Director Environmental Information Protection Center


Larry Glass, Executive Director

Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment


Jennifer Kalt, Director Humboldt Baykeeper

/s/ Dan Ehresman, Executive Director Northcoast Environmental Center

Cc: California Cannabis Voice Humboldt,



  • Luke is naive if he interprets our position as support for CCVH’s Draft 8 – which doesn’t exist yet. As we said in the statement,

    Our individual organizations may have additional comments that are not addressed in this unified position, and we collectively and individually intend to comment further on future cannabis cultivation policy proposals.

    • Luke is not naive. He has already sold us down the road. He is working with the guys in Sacramento on legislation that is about to pass. It will allow timberland conversions to be permitted with 1 acre grows including 10,000 square feet of greenhouse production. Luke plays a nasty game. While we tried to block him here in Humboldt he was part of a group pushing the state legislators to allow bigger grows than even CCV-H proposed. Do not believe he is naive. That is how he tricks you. He is cunning. What good is “local control” when all the agricultural counties start blowing out 1 acre grows? And yes, one property owner can have many of those 1 acre grows. Luke has helped deliver the industry to the corporate apparatus and has rewarded the mega-growers with the future profits. The bar is set and it is very high. Just like his buddy at Wonderland and their gangster buddies in Oaksterdam wanted. Many will suffer, some will reap fortunes (which they will simply add to their existing fortunes). The dreams of the small grower are crushed. Should have gone mega!

      • Jack I thought I had convinced you buddy! Now more than ever we need to organize. We as a group need to reach out to each other. We need to educate and inform each other on how the future will look. The fear of true Corporations taking over is way over blown. I think we are years away from that which is great news. If we can get a solid foot hold now, they will have a way harder time steamrolling us. There are no public traded entities involved as of now and until we get 50 state federal legalization AND banking approval they wont be period! I think we are years away from that which is great news. If we can get a solid foot hold now, they will have a way harder time steamrolling us. There are though plenty of private equity groups that are involved in the cannabis industry waiting to come in. The truth is that in order to form a legitimate industry the scope of the projects are going to happen need funding. So yes there will be large private equity groups moving into California and even Humboldt County. Hell they are here already. But thats the nature of the business and truly the way of business in the USA. Now is the time for the small farmers to make a step forward and organize. Get educated. Get into VOLUNTARY compliance with Regional Water Boards and local and environmental codes. To show that we as group can be responsible and would not only be of asset but be LEADERS in the new industry. This is going to happen one way the other. Like it or not. Our way of life is going to change and change fast. We have no control over that. But what we do have control over is where we land. Look I don’t like everything that is proposed by CCV or CCVH or even the language of the State at this point, but I for one am tired. After 30 years under the blades Im over it. I don’t want to look over my shoulder anymore. I don’t want to fear a raid everyday. I want us as A GROUP to hold our heads high and be apart of something and MAKE a difference in this new era.

      • ” blowing out 1 acre grows? ”

        In just about any type of legal agriculture, one acre is considered a very small farm. Just sayin.’

        • Ya average size of farm in CA is 311 acres.
          The misunderstanding of agricultural regs and what could happen should the state place cannabis under those regs could destroy this whole process. We may then end up with a worse situation than anything being discussed now. The humboldt bubble has to pop on this one, it would be helpful for one of these groups to be looking into how to protect our area from industrial ag rather than infighting. Divided we fall.

    • I saw Luke the other day sporting his green “I’m a farmer” shirt and thought, no you’re a lobbyist. That is to say, a bottom-feeding capitalist looking to screw the hard working people you pretend to represent.

  • Don’t legalize it, yet. Let’s figure it out first. We now have lobby groups and politicians determining our future. Say goodbye to the mirror if you believe these people have our interests in their hearts and minds at all. Expect big-ag and pharm all up in your shit soon. I’d prefer the grey area.

    • Sorry! Too many fingers in the pie now! Now the engineers, regulatory agencies, tax boards, form-fillers, computer analysts, political action committees, soil scientists and all the rest think they should all get a bunch of money out of the weed. Oh, and the inspectors, advisors and estate planners, corporate lawyers and pencil-pushing fact-checkers want their cut too. Don’t forget the real estate speculators and farm equipment salesmen! Oh, did I leave out the soon-to-be-legal distributors and transportation companies? Yes- all the parasites and fat bloodsuckers have lined up for their cut. Never mind that most of the players are already rich and are corporate suits. They now want this too. And they are taking it. Or should I say- we are giving it to them? Run a few more stories about how scary that black market is! Those gangsters in Humboldt are dangerous criminals and we must make things safe! 1 acre grows. Let’s pretend everybody can have them. Oh, except the price crash…and then only the deep pockets survive, and they buy up the shallow pockets at a penny to the dollar …and consolidate their holdings…Maybe the boss will let me wash his new truck (for minimum wage).

      • Beats getting my work stolen by the cops at gun point or asset forfeiture.

        • Agreed! Are the current plans perfect? Hell no! Is every farmer going to find a place in the legal industry? Hell no! BUT those that get educated NOW and organize NOW will. It wont be easy that I can tell you. It will be dealing with tons of bureaucracy and red tape. It will mean an investment of both time and money. But it will be possible. My advice is this and its a bit of tough love here folks: Get off your asses and quit whining! Times are changing either get with the program or die. Fight for what you want! If people don’t like the proposals on the table now they should form groups and change them to suit their groups beliefs.

          Look sitting back and whining over the internet about getting steamrolled is for nothing. Getting affairs in place now, organizing and education is paramount to the success and creation of a truly sustainable industry here in our Home!!!

      • Jack cmon guy. In every legal industry there are regulators. Thats the nature of the beast. But look at the alternative. Its whats around you. Its raids and environmental damage. We have the opportunity to stop them both! I for one would welcome a visit from an inspector over a MET Team or CAMP crew any day of the week. I am looking forward to the day when I go to the Post Office to send off my check for my permit fees or my first county tax check.

  • When the natural resources are at their ebb, and they want to take over for the next boom, they inundate the area with hard drugs — heroin, coke, meth — make a fortune on those, while driving down property values with all the crime and homelessness those cause. Then they buy up the properties they want so they can capitalize on the next wave.

    And they want gorgeous homes in gorgeous places. With fancy shops and restaurants. Not hippies. Not rednecks. And you can bet your bottom dollar the tweaker problem will evaporate once certain objectives are met. TPZ will shrink. The rivers and creeks will shrink. A few really comfy growers will be at least as rich as the biggest vintners in Napa and Sonoma.

    You don’t know how the game is played, and you don’t have the political savvy or the money to get on board. It’s happened a thousand times, in a thousand places, and still we don’t wake up to what’s happening until it’s too late.

    It’s the system. And not the one they taught you in school. It’s the real system. But if you yell about it, you get marginalized. I saw those aerial shots of some of those big zits in the middle of the forest we are all now calling “compliant” and my heart sank into my stomach.

  • What qualifies as “existing”? Does that mean permitted ones or just grows that have been in operation? Why would there be a distinction between new and “existing”? What difference does that make?

  • Interested observer

    As a former displaced timber worker, I find the action of these environmental groups somewhat amusing. Instead of having massive protests, chaining themselves to gates, and destroying private property, they lovingly seek to be in co-operation with an illegal activity that is harmful in so many ways. Carry on, and good luck Humboldt.

  • Small business orgs vs big gov control yet again, under the pusedo name of “oversight”.

  • infighting will ruin us all

    Umm where’s the discussion of indoor grows? All this hate and mis information about outdoor growers has been making me wonder, not that its all false, but I have yet to see anything on indoor. Then I thot oh yeah its all about which corp will make money off grows so of course they will demonize outdoor while looking at Colorado’s legislation that makes only indoor grows legal. I fear that while the enviros (who obviously have never grown outdoor or they’d understand size&water better) & everyone fight it out, the rules could be passed to only allow indoor and then we’re screwed. Indoor grows, in No Hum at least, are super toxic between chem ferts and poisonous illegal sprays dumped down drains. Eating stuff outta the bay is not advised, I would bet those oysters are toxic by now!!! Look enviros, learn about farming and consult with one of the many growers doin a good job instead of trying to make rules about something you dont know enough about. Have heard many outdoor growers who used to support enviro til this say that since all the E-groups are in No Hum now they are protecting the indoor growers instead.

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