Lawmakers in San Mateo County, CA, have agreed to proceed with allowing commercial greenhouse marijuana growing in unincorporated communities. However, according to an article in the San Mateo Daily Journal, the Board of Supervisors stopped short of welcoming other commercial cannabis businesses. Instead, it agreed to have a more comprehensive discussion focused on sales and dispensaries.
“This is a monumental change in how we deal with marijuana, and I think the transition from an illegal system to one that is regulated and has transparency is going to take time,” said board Vice President Dave Pine. “It’s going to be rocky to get there, but I think in time it makes a lot of sense. It’s going to be safer for users because of regulation of the product, we’re going to see less environmental degradation, and today, essentially all the activity is criminal.”
Supervisors, including the county’s former sheriff, were unanimous in their support for allowing regulated commercial growing in greenhouses on the coastside — a prospect local growers have advocated for and one which the city of Half Moon Bay is also embracing.
The state is expected to start issuing commercial licenses sometime next year, and jurisdictions have been enacting a wide spectrum of regulations, from promoting commercial operations to restricting medical marijuana.
County staff is expected to return in September with the proposed ordinance allowing indoor commercial operations in unincorporated coastal areas, such as in Pescadero or greenhouses surrounding Half Moon Bay.
Eventually, the county will need to set up its own licensing system as well as environmental, health and agricultural inspections for any businesses in the cities and county.
Board President Don Horsley, a former sheriff, whose district includes the coastside, noted allowing greenhouses to grow marijuana could help revive a dwindling cut flower industry. Still, he wants to preserve farmlands currently growing foods like Brussels sprouts, which are a staple for the region.
Yet he also warned of potential consequences in welcoming an agricultural industry that requires highly-skilled and well-paid laborers to an area that is already struggling to provide enough farmworker housing.
Erin Tormey, a grower in unincorporated Half Moon Bay, said while she may not be getting into the cannabis business herself, she supports those who are struggling to thrive.
“As a grower who is in the business of farming one of the singularly most expensive and interesting places to farm in the world,” Tormey said, “I’d like to encourage you to expedite affirmative policies that support cannabis cultivation in the county.”
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