Santa Cruz, the figurative birthplace of California’s collective cannabis gardening model, is facing harsh restrictions in terms of the medicine that can be grown near the coastal community.
This week’s meeting of the county’s board of supervisors saw a packed house and resulted in a 3-2 vote in favor of banning commercial marijuana grows, while also limiting the rights of collective gardens.
The supervisors, presented with a number of different scenarios, voted to revoke a February 2014 ordinance that allowed for growing medical cannabis in commercial zones and enacted a new cultivation ordinance. The new ordinance “bans all cultivation other than 100 square foot personal grows.” In addition, it only allows for one such grow per parcel and includes contiguous land under common ownership as a single location. With today’s amendment to the 2014 ordinance, cultivation of medical cannabis in the incorporated areas of Santa Cruz County can now only take place on a parcel that includes the residence of the patient or caregiver. In addition, cultivation of the allowable 10 x 10 square foot area is limited to one resident per parcel.
The supervisors voted in the new rules amidst concerns of a “sharp rise in illegal cannabis cultivation sites,” following the 2014 change.
“Although the original cultivator ordinance was enacted with the best intentions, it has proven to be unworkable, and we believe the best interests of the county overall would be served by banning cultivation unrelated to personal patient grows,” county staff wrote of the 2014 ordinance in its recommendation to the board.
Santa Cruz is the birthplace of WAMM, a collective gardening model run by Valerie Corral. While Proposition 215 established medical marijuana in 1996, Corral had a large role in shaping Senate Bill 420, which allowed for the establishment of collective grows by creating a patient caregiver relationship within California counties. WAMM, along with approximately 16 other collectives and dispensaries in the county are exempted from the new ordinance, which the Santa Cruz Sentinel reports, should go into effect in mid-May.
Within Santa Cruz an advocacy group, the Cannabis Advocates Alliance, has formed to protect the rights of the medical marijuana community. This group plans to meet again to discuss further action.
Ellen Holland started working at Cannabis Now Magazine on April 21st because she was busy on 4/20. She has served as the magazine’s production manager and associate editor and is passionate about cannabis legalization. Follow her on twitter @hollandbuds.