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Calaveras Supes Head Towards Hemp Farming Ban

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San Andreas, CA — With stated plans ahead to revisit its commercial cannabis grow ban the Calaveras supervisors are now considering temporally banning hemp.

A discussion on a potential moratorium on hemp grows is among the regular agenda items for the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

According to the meeting documents, since the county’s current cannabis ordinance does not cover industrial hemp, defined differently under federal and state law, county staff is recommending a temporary ban on grows for now. Under state law, it will shortly be legal to grow industrial hemp under a registration that requires no background check.

Among the listed reasons are that an industrial hemp-growing ordinance, if developed, could mirror the zoning and acreage restrictions and limitations of cannabis cultivation as well as include buffer zones to prevent cross-pollination. Since both crops are so similar that it takes a lab test to distinguish between them, there are also concerns that if hemp cultivation is allowed before possible regulations on commercial cannabis is enacted, illegal marijuana growers could cultivate crops disguised as hemp. Stinky smells and other related issues associated with marijuana crops would additionally carry over to hemp grows, triggering similar neighbor concerns.

The supes are likely to proceed in the direction of a temporary hemp grow hold. Without one, staff points out that the agricultural commissioner’s office would be required to process state registrations for qualifying hemp growers; “research hemp” grows could slip through under state law without vetting; both would be permitted within the county on any parcel allowing commercial agriculture operations without any restrictions on total canopy size, acreage, or buffers between properties.

The supes will declare March Red Cross Month and hear a semi-annual report from the county’s Economic Development Director Kathy Gallino about activities, accomplishments, and goals ahead. Tuesday’s meeting opens to the public at 9 a.m. following a closed session over employment and Sheriff’s Office-related matters.

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