There are two new and exciting pilot programs on the brink for selected groups in the unincorporated areas of Monterey County. The first pertains to outdoor growing in District 4 and the second, newly created program involves cultivation and manufacturing of industrial hemp in specific areas of North and South County.
Outdoor Pilot Program
The cannabis outdoor pilot program requires an administrative permit and is achieved through submitting a conditional use permit application to the Monterey County Resource Management Agency. The program is available to growers in the Cachagua and the Big Sur areas, with parcels that have zoning districts RDR (Rural Density Residential) and RC (Resource Conservation) on lots that are at least 10 acres in size. The program lasts five (5) years.
In order to be eligible for the program you have to provide evidence of two (2) of the following three (3) requirements:
Photographs of cultivation that existed on the lot prior to January 1, 2016.
Documentary evidence that medical cannabis was cultivated on the lot or on behalf of a collective or cooperative dated prior to January 1, 2016.
Any other form of evidence acceptable to the appropriate authority that cultivation occurred on the lot prior to January 1, 2016.
There are many restrictions include setbacks from schools, child care center, youth centers, road right of ways, and offsite structures. Cultivation cannot take place on federal land or land accessed through federal land. Further, only properties that have a permitted dwelling will be allowed for cultivation purposes.
The grow site itself cannot exceed 10,000 square feet and applicants must also receive a county business license and a state cultivation license through the CDFA prior to putting plants in the ground. Additional details of the pilot program requirements can be found in the proposed ordinance that goes before the Monterey County Board of Supervisors amending Title 21 and 20.
Hemp Pilot Program
The hemp pilot program proposes to create a new Hemp Zoning District (HMP) to allow industrial hemp cultivation and processing in certain areas of South and North Monterey County. Restrictions to the proposed ordinance require approval of registration by the Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner. It also proposes to limit the number of sites to 30 and the maximum cultivated area cannot exceed 100 acres. This is a one-year pilot program.
To be eligible, properties must have a base zoning designation that allows soil dependent agricultural uses having been previously cultivated for commercial agricultural purposes and are located in the required boundaries. Various buffer zones have been established to address public concerns surrounding the prevailing wind patterns. Additional details of the pilot program requirements can be found in the proposed ordinance that goes before the Monterey County Board of Supervisors amending Title 21 and 20.
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.