Vote for hemp moratorium extension fails

The supervisors may have not approved the extension of a moratorium on industrial hemp cultivation, but hemp growers are still not in the clear when it comes to growing the plant in Lassen County.

“With or without a moratorium … cultivation of hemp is illegal in Lassen County by virtue of Title 19,” said County Administrative Officer Richard Egan; however, he noted the county was working on revisions to the county code for future crops.

During the Tuesday, April 23 Lassen County Board of Supervisors meeting, the extension of the temporary industrial hemp moratorium failed to pass, but under Lassen County Code and Title 19, and the lack of registration from the state of California regarding the crop and federal approval, growers should still pause when planning their grows.

During the Tuesday meeting, the supervisors were posed with a possible extension of the temporary moratorium on industrial hemp cultivation, but with some citing concerns the moratorium could dissuade future hemp growers in the area, the motion failed.

The motion to extend the moratorium for 10 months and 15 days failed to pass, with two ayes from supervisors Aaron Albaugh and Chris Gallagher, and three no votes, from Tom Hammond, David Teeter and Hemphill. An earlier motion to extend it for 22 months and 15 days failed to get a second.

During the discussion, some supervisors noted they would rather pause on hemp plans for now and focus on cannabis activities and the potential dispensaries.

“We’ve been working on cannabis now for almost two years, and I don’t want something else to take the place of that until that’s done,” said Gallagher.

Supervisors also suggested an extension might send the wrong message to future hemp growers.

“I think we’re just sending the wrong message out again,” said chairman Jeff Hemphill, of the extension.

The supervisors previously approved a temporary 45-day moratorium at the Feb. 19 meeting.

In December, the U.S. Farm Bill legalized the regularized production of hemp, and while hemp does not contain psychoactive ingredients, it’s legalized production still carries some unknowns, and the supervisors noted its desire to not get ahead of state organizations when it comes to production.

“We’ve been getting a lot of interest in hemp,” said Lassen County Planning and Building Director Maury Anderson during the February meeting. “I wanted to explore the idea of a temporary moratorium on hemp so that we may study it, fully understand it and come up with some kind of land use guidelines if it were the board’s pleasure to entertain hemp.”