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HEMP and Monterey County

My office regularly gets calls from people who are interested in starting hemp grows and manufacturing sites in Monterey County and are curious about the regulations and laws surrounding hemp. What is confusing to people, is that despite the Federal government declassifying hemp from a schedule 1 narcotic, it is still not “legal” to grow it or process it where ever you’d like. Since the state of California has yet to publish the draft hemp regulations only cultivators who are operating as a qualified established research institution can cultivate hemp in certain locations.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture is currently drafting regulations to implement section 81011 which governs the cultivation and processing of hemp in the state of California. Due to statutory requirements for rulemaking, there will be a period of time during which section 81011 is effective but lacks regulatory specificity necessary for the State to implement section 81011. To fill the regulatory gap, the Department of Food and Agriculture recommends that counties adhere to specific guidelines until regulations are adopted. The guidelines recommended by the state are not legally binding and do not place a legal obligation on counties to adhere to them. The state guidelines are as follows:

  1. Provide the name of the research institution that is cultivating to the local agricultural commissioner and provide information for a specific contact person;

  2. Provide GPS coordinates, in decimal degrees up to six decimals, for all sites used for cultivating industrial hemp to the local agricultural commission;

  3. Provide the names of all individuals involved with the cultivation activities as members of, or on behalf of, the institution, and the nature of their relationship with the institution; and

  4. Provide any other documentation at the local governments discretion to confirm that a planting of industrial hemp is being cultivated by a research institution and that the institution is authorized to cultivate industrial hemp at the specific site.

However, in Monterey County it is not currently possible to register with the local agricultural commissioner’s office regardless of whether or not your cultivation facility qualifies as an established agricultural research facility. Further, the County of Monterey has stated that they are going to require an administrative and/or development permit to cultivate or process hemp. Cultivation of hemp will only be permitted in legally established greenhouses or warehouses and in zoning districts that currently allow the cultivation of commercial cannabis.

To manufacture hemp, the facility also must apply for an administrative and/or development permit and the manufacturing can only take place in zoning districts that permit the manufacturing of commercial cannabis. If volatile extraction is used, the operators must obtain the necessary permits from the local fire district and the Monterey Bay Air Resource District.

Jennifer Rosenthal is a local cannabis and criminal defense attorney. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and does not reflect an official position of the Association.

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