Thursday, February 25, 2016

Marijuana Group Says it Will Sue County Over Outdoor Cultivation Ordinance

Posted By on Thu, Feb 25, 2016 at 3:47 PM

  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
Humboldt County’s newly enacted medical marijuana cultivation ordinance, which goes into effect tomorrow, is already facing a legal threat.

The Humboldt Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project (HuMMAP) filed a notice with the county on Tuesday saying that it intends to sue to stop the ordinance. HuMMAP spokesperson Robert Sutherland confirmed the filing with the Journal and said the medical marijuana advocacy group intends to file a lawsuit on Monday if the county continues forward with the ordinance.

In the group’s intention notice, filed by Berkeley attorney Rachel Doughty, it says it will ask for an injunction halting implementation of the ordinance and says the ordinance does not comply with the California Environmental Quality Act. This appears to reference the ordinance’s accompanying mitigated negative declaration, an environmental report that essentially promises the ordinance will not have adverse environmental impacts in exchange for not having to to a lengthy and costly impact study. (Sutherland and Doughty did not respond to calls seeking further comment by the time of this posting, but the Journal will update if they get back to us.) The prospect of a potential HuMMAP lawsuit was first reported by local blogger John Chiv.

Read the HuMMAP filing here:

Notice of Intention

That mitigated negative declaration was the subject of lawsuit threats from environmental groups previously, when planning commission recommended changes to the staff-drafted ordinance that the groups felt were too lenient. Supervisors, concerned that a lawsuit would push them past a March 1 state deadline that would cede local medical marijuana regulation to the state, reinstated much of the original draft’s restriction to match the staff-generated mitigated negative declaration. Since then, however, state lawmakers have lifted the deadline to have local ordinances in effect, so the pending HuMMAP lawsuit, if filed as intended, would not prevent the county from ever getting marijuana laws on the books even if it postpones enactment of the ordinance.

HuMMAP, apparently, still thinks the draft is too lenient when it comes to environmental protections. Sutherland was a vocal participant in the drafting process, attending most (if not all) of the planning commission and supervisors meetings on the subject. Among other things, he pushed the lawmakers to include a “Humboldt heritage” license, which would reward small grows where the farmers lived on the land where they cultivated.

Despite the threatened suit, the county is pushing forward with its permitting program, which starts tomorrow, according to Senior Planner Stephen Lazaar. With the ordinance in effect, the planning and building department will be accepting permit applications for medical marijuana distributors, cultivators and manufacturers. 
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About The Author

Grant Scott-Goforth

Grant Scott-Goforth has been an assistant editor and staff writer for The Journal since 2013.

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