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Pot Ordinance Woes Continue

There are dark clouds on the horizon regarding the County’s failed Cannabis Ordinance and the resulting uncertain prospects of pot growers ever being licensed by state regulators.

According to one county official, the licensing process now required by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) was “never anticipated when the Cannabis Ordinance was adopted by the County in 2017.”

That official, Planning and Building Services (PBS) Director Brent Schultz, gloomily concluded, “These (state) processes will also be difficult for our permittees and applicants to navigate, with no guarantee that their cultivation sites will ultimately pass site specific environmental review. Furthermore, because Provisional State Licenses expire January 1, 2022, PBS staff has no confidence that sufficient time remains for active permittees and applicants in the County’s Cannabis Cultivation Permitting Program to obtain all necessary approvals for an Annual State Cannabis Cultivation License to be issued.”

Therefore, it’s possible that untold numbers of county residents may have no way forward to obtain the required state cannabis license.

I disagreed with Shultz’s characterization of this development as being “never contemplated when the original ordinance was adopted.”

Three years ago representatives of two state resource agencies — CAL FIRE and the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) — appeared on their own motion at a July 18, 2017 Board of Supervisors meeting, and specifically addressed County officials on potential problems with their pot rules.

From the outset of their remarks, the state resource agencies’ reps pointedly but politely bared their fangs on the County’s problematical environmental review process and the enforcement issue.

I covered DFW’s numerous warnings on the ordinance’s defects in previous columns.

Here’s what CAL FIRE had to say on the county’s pot regulations.

CAL FIRE’s Unit Resource Manager Craig Pederson spoke on the lack of enforcement regarding tree removal associated with marijuana cultivation.

“CAL FIRE was satisfied with the final ordinance language which clearly prohibited tree removal” for grow sites, Pederson said.

But, he stated, “In practice we find that not to be the case as conversion of timberland to cultivate marijuana has continued.”

He pointed out that ‘the number of issues and potential CAL FIRE law enforcement cases are escalating …”

He told the Supes, “CAL FIRE encourages the county to promptly and consistently enforce the cultivation ordinance. The ordinance must be enforced by the county, as lead agency, to ensure responsible agencies’ (such as CAL FIRE) written and verbal concerns are addressed.”

He reminded the Supes that the ordinance created a “zero tolerance for tree removal. It doesn’t allow a single (commercial) tree to be removed for cultivation purposes.”

The bottom line for CAL FIRE was they were not happy that they were being forced by the “escalating” tree removal activities of growers to do the enforcement duties that are actually the county’s responsibilities.

By any process of program evaluation or measure of a program’s effectiveness, the Mendocino County cannabis ordinance is an abysmal failure. I said that there’s really only one viable option left to the County, and it appears there may be a number of Supervisors who see it that way also, with John McCowen, Ted Williams, and John Haschak perhaps favoring a change in direction.

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, the Board of Supervisors will be discussing whether to change direction and possibly create a Cannabis Ordinance that actually works, instead of the one that is currently ignored by 90% of pot farmers.

(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, and is also the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live:


  1. James Marmon August 6, 2020


    It became completely clear to me while watching the Board Meeting Tuesday that there is still a focus of disdain aimed toward the legacy growers. Even William’s lip curls when he talks about them and saving the environment in the same sentence. The legacy growers never stood a chance, so now big business will take over (Phase 3) and enforcement will follow. It might have been the plan all along.

    James Marmon MSW

  2. James Marmon August 8, 2020

    Speaking of conspiracy’s, here’s mine.

    Gavin Newsom and his buddy Eirc Sklar are responsible for destroying what we call the legacy growers so that the grape growers can take over. A current Fish California Fish and Game Commissioner made sure that environmental regulations would be too much to overcome. Eric Sklar is not only an environmentalist; he’s also a cannabis distributer, grower, and vineyard owner. I drive by one of his distribution facilities almost every day here in Clearlake. Alan Flora loves him.

    California Fish and Game Commission wraps up second day of business

    “While we all are learning this remote world together, this meeting proved that government can continue with public input,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “Gov. Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19. I implore Californians to stay healthy and stay home to help save lives.”

    “Commissioners adopted proposed regulations for public use on CDFW lands, including wildlife areas and ecological reserves. The regulations designate one new wildlife area and seven new ecological reserves, remove areas from the regulations where CDFW no longer has management authority, authorize site-specific public uses and make minor changes to clarify the regulations.”

    Clearlake to consider 2 cannabis permits
    Up to 12 permits will be allowed in the city

    “Of the businesses that have been approved, only one is currently operating. Fumé is a dispensary owned by Napa County resident Eric Sklar. The business is “a delivery only dispensary that began operations in July 2018,” Flora said.”

    James Marmon MSW

    • James Marmon August 9, 2020

      Correction, it was Jerry Brown who first conspired with Sklar to destroy the legacy growers. Newsom is just following up.

      Former St. Helena City Councilman and Yountville Hill Winery proponent Eric Sklar has been appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the state Fish and Game Commission.

      Napa Valley vintner Eric Sklar eyes move into cannabis as logical step

      • James Marmon August 9, 2020

        When phase 3 goes into effect the wine growers will be able to start growing and take over the market. They will not be required to show a previous grow like the legacy growers are, and you can bet they won’t be subject to the same regulations.


        • John Robert August 10, 2020

          James, the cannabis plant is a perfect fit for being grown interwoven into the rows of wine grapes. Both come to maturity at the same times and do in-fact impart/trade essence/savorier, creating a most enjoyable flavor. Along with the mechanics of being able to tend both by the same crew during the run up to harvest, the economics of this has been known for many years in certain small circles of upper level players in the wine industry.

          • James Marmon August 10, 2020

            After Glenn McGourty takes his seat on the Board of Supervisors and phase 3 begins, the transition from the Legacy Growers to the Vintners will be in full effect. 2021 is going to be exciting.


  3. James Marmon August 10, 2020


    Watch Mendocino Board of Supes’ cannabis ad hoc committee town hall (video)

    The County’s cannabis cultivation ordinance is scheduled to re-open the permitting process to new cultivators in July [2020], but potentially thousands of the county’s “legacy cultivators” have yet to apply for licenses, and hundreds of others remain in compliance limbo without a finalized local or state level permit.

  4. Harvey Reading August 11, 2020

    LOL. Mendocinia’s dope growers are too dumb to comply with regulations, so y’all can continue with your fame as a county that produces illegal drugs (and elects a really weird sheriff who knows nothing of what happened in the US after the end of the country’s atrocities against Vietnam) . The funny thing is, you grow so little dope to begin with, compared to the overall demand. I love a good laugh at people too dumb to see their own insignificance, but still touting their self-importance.

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