There’s no rush on cannabis licensing

Keeping with their current mindset regarding cannabis, the Lassen County Board of Supervisors is not looking to rush into making decisions regarding licensing.

“We bring this up because we’re obligated to,” said supervisor David Teeter, noting his discomfort with commercial cannabis and the difference between state and federal marijuana laws. “I don’t want to rush into this. I want staff to take the work that we’re talking about and provide something for us that gives us the best chance of success.”

During the Tuesday, Nov. 28 meeting, the board looked over the recently set state regulations regarding medicinal and adult-use cannabis, prior to the Jan. 1 date, at which point the sale of marijuana will be legal for recreational use.

Ultimately, however, the board majority leaned in favor of taking its time regarding licenses. Licenses for a variety of cannabis-related activities, from transportation to micro-businesses to lab testing facilities, could, in the state of California, be doled out after the New Year.

But that is not a deadline the local board is rushing to meet.

“If we do this, let’s do it right,” said board chairman Aaron Albaugh, agreeing with Teeter that the board should not hurry to implement any laws.

The board directed county staff to work with the marijuana ad hoc committee, comprised of Teeter and supervisor Chris Gallagher. Currently, in the county, there is a total ban on all commercial cultivation. Medical marijuana patients are allowed a 250 square foot plot, with additional requirements such as fencing and more.

During the meeting, the ad hoc committee members discussed some potential ideas they would like looked into further.

Gallagher noted the committee discussed not allowing licenses for recreational cannabis, but for medical only.

“Our drive is to keep it all medical,” he said.

The framework, Gallagher discussed, could allow for a set number of licenses for micro-businesses, maybe some dispensaries and a testing lab.

He shared the committee also discussed possibly adding a $10 per plant tax and a 10 percent county excise on all commercial sales.

Teeter and Gallagher will meet with county staff and a potential framework will come back to the board some time after January.

However, during the meeting, the board members and meeting attendees had further comments to make.

Teeter stressed his concern with working with a federally illegal substance despite its legality, which was voted into effect by California residents last November. His main concern was how businesses could use FDIC insured banks.

Meeting attendees, who were largely those interested in local cannabis micro-businesses, stressed that the longer the county goes without a licensing framework, the more local patients will suffer.

“It’s above us. It’s about the patients,” said Jason Ingram, of Doyle.

The board also discussed the exorbitant license fees from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

While meeting attendees interested in running a local micro-business said they would pay the fees in order to be legal growers, the supervisors commented on how they believed the high cost could cause a black market for growers attempting to sell their product.

They also questioned whether large illegal grows would be hampered in any way with the allowed commercial
cultivation.

Overall, the resounding theme from the supervisors focused on getting the licensing framework right rather than rushing to get the local licenses available by Jan. 1.
The matter will come back to the board within a few months, the board noted.

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