Intent to Cultivate Deadline, Part II
Yesterday, a small post from us intended to inform readers of a free service offered by local business people to assist growers in dealing with the looming Intent to Cultivate form deadline blew into a tiny tornado behind the scene.
Some insisted there was no looming deadline. Others insisted there was.
Here’s our attempt to break this down.
First, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board very clearly states on their website the following message:
Growing cannabis? By February 15, 2016 cultivators with 2000 square feet or more of cultivated area are required to enroll in a new water quality regulatory program (Order R1-2015-0023), either directly with the Regional Water Board, or via an approved third party program.
That seems fairly clear. If you want to cultivate medical marijuana legally, you must sign up, right?
However, attorney Mark Harris* pointed out, “There is no penalty for non-compliance.” Speaking as a parent and a teacher, that means effectively there is no deadline. If I tell students that a paper is due Wednesday but, if they never turn it in, there is no penalty, guess how many papers I’m going to get–I’m guessing very, very few.
So, I called our local Waterboard to sort this out. I spoke to a very patient Senior Engineer with the agency, Diana Henrioulle. She said, “There are penalties” for non-enrollment.
She told me that once the February 15th deadline is passed the agency will be “engaging in enrollment enforcement.” She says, the agency could use “aerial imagery enforcement,” and may do their own aerial imagery in order to compare enrolled parcels with cultivation sites. In addition, they might use other methods including but not limited to neighbor complaints and on the ground contact with other government agencies.
However, when I asked for specifics about what kind of penalties would be assessed, her response wasn’t clear cut. She talked about “enforcement discretion” and “options.” If someone voluntarily comes in and enrolls past the enrollment date, there didn’t seem to be any penalties. However, if a non-enrolled cultivator is discovered by the agency, Henrioulle said that they would be told to enroll by a certain date and fix any violations or then they could be assessed fines–perhaps $1000 per day but she didn’t limit it.
“I would encourage as many people as possible to enroll as soon as possible,” she said. “[If you do,] you are ahead of the game and you are not going to be subject to enforcement….Our bottom line is keep the dirt out of the water…Fix the roads you’re sharing.”
Attorney Mark Harris agrees, “Get it done soon. Don’t wait until you get caught.”
Attorney Ed Denson offers this additional information on this Saturday’s workshop:
I got a phone call this evening from Adona White, a local person working for the North Coast Regional Water Board. She heard me on the KMUD news and volunteered to come to the workshop, bringing enrollment packages, and, best of all, a well worked out rap about how to tell which tier you are in (an essential fact you need to know to file the Intent to Cultivate). I have been talking with people and fielding emails and Facebook messages. A lot of confusion is caused by the fact that you need to get permits or licenses from more than one government agency.
1. If you are using water, you need a permit (or clearance) from Fish and Wildlife.
2. If you are using water and might pollute other water with sediment or chemicals (like fertilizers or pesticides) you need a Waiver permit from the North Coast Regional Water Board – and that’s what the workshop is about because there is a deadline [of February 15] for filing the first form to start the process; the Intent to Cultivate form.
3. You will need a local permit from the city or county in which you cultivate. Deadline for filing in Humboldt is end of July.
4 In 2017 you will need a state permit. In 2016 you can cultivate without it.
5. In 2016 the medical marijuana laws still apply, All commercial cultivation must be by and for patients with 215s, and done on a non-profit basis.
It looks like the workshop may be popular, so people should come a little early. It is at the Solar Suites building, in the atrium, at 12:30 Saturday afternoon. Sean Knight will be doing the computer work, and we can provide the forms, help you fill them out, and then scan and file them for you by email. Ms White will explain the technical detail, and I will be available for some legal consultations (in private) for those who would like them.
I don’ t know if it will be fun for the whole family, but I think we can help people do what they need to do to start getting legal.
Note: Please be aware Mark Harris is an advertiser on my site and my attorney (Don’t ask about the horrible time I had to go to court and not disclose what a source had told me!)