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Cannabis cultivation and the indicates for regulating it have been contentious subjects in Napa County for some time now. Back in July, proponents of enabling industrial cannabis cultivation in unincorporated Napa County, led by the Napa Valley Cannabis Association, collected adequate signatures to qualify for a ballot measure in the course of the March three, 2020 election.
Following collection of these signatures, the County Board of Supervisors took up the challenge on July 23rd. Usually, the Board would have 3 feasible paths forward in such a circumstance. The Board could: 1) spot the measure on the ballot subsequent March, two) adopt the measure outright, or three) order a 9111 report to analyze the prospective effect of the measure ahead of taking action at a later date.
The County Board of Supervisors issued a 9111 report relating to the cannabis regulation initiative on August 20th in which it analyzed the land use, environmental, fiscal, and other impacts of the proposed initiative. The report detailed some of the adverse implications that could outcome from the initiative, like a purported adverse effect on Napa County’s tourism market “through adverse odor and visual impacts on wineries, restaurants, resorts, and lodging facilities in each incorporated and unincorporated places of the county.” The report drew analogies to the struggles of Santa Barbara County in regulating cannabis as properly.
Aside from the specifics contained in the 9111 report, opponents of the initiative emphasized that the initiative approach was not the suitable indicates for building cannabis regulations for the county, for the reason that the county’s capacity to amend the regulations established pursuant to that initiative would be particularly restricted. Such amendments could only take place through a ballot vote.
But on August 28th, proponents of industrial cannabis cultivation in the county “announced plans to withdraw their ballot initiative, saying they now choose regulations they are in search of to be incorporated in an ordinance by the county board of supervisors.”
“Following discussions with market trade associations, numerous members of the Napa Board of Supervisors and neighborhood, the NVCA and The Committee choose an ordinance that is a living document, more than an initiative approach,” Napa Valley Cannabis Association board member Eric Sklar wrote. “An ordinance can be evolved and changed by the Board of Supervisors at any time, whereas authorized initiatives can only be changed with a ballot vote.”
Furthermore, Sklar described the withdrawal as a “gesture of fantastic faith,” stating, “We help and choose the ordinance approach to collaboratively create written regulations that will evolve in line with the existing and future requirements of the neighborhood, in a accountable and representative manner.”
Hopefully the withdrawal of the initiative will open the door to productive collaboration on an ordinance that adequately addresses the interests and issues of all impacted parties. This serves as but an additional instance of the myriad strategies regional jurisdictions in California have struggled to regulate cannabis in the wake of legalization, and we’ll be paying close consideration to see how 1 of California’s most recognized agricultural regions decides to move forward.