A nonprofit trade association representing cannabis growers in five California grower groups is launching a $ 100,000 matching fund campaign to get state lobbyists to work on a number of issues affecting growers, a she announced on February 1.
Founded in 2019, the Origins Council’s most pressing challenge this year is persuading the legislature to extend the provisional licenses these producers obtain while awaiting final state regulatory approvals.
Without help in Sacramento, farmers say they face tons of red tape to get permanent licenses to grow cannabis, risking their markets to collapse if they don’t succeed. Meeting requirements can be time consuming and costly.
The council serves 500 members in five groups of cannabis growing regions in California. They include the Sonoma County Growers Alliance, the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, the Big Sur Farmers Association, the Trinity County Agriculture Alliance, and the Mendocino Cannabis Alliance. The latter represents Happy Day Farms producer Casey O’Neill of Bell Springs, located north of Laytonville.
âWe are delighted that the Origins Council is ready to take these steps,â O’Neill told the Business Journal of his one-acre vegetable and cannabis farm in Mendocino County. âFarmers in the capital are under-represented. But I have to be on the farm.
Provisional operating licenses, which are granted by the state on a temporary basis until full state and local government approvals are met, will expire at the end of this year.
The permanent operating licenses of many farmers are often suspended from regulatory applications that resemble planning and building permits.
There are 5,181 active provisional cannabis cultivation licenses in the state.
O’Neill’s concern lies in meeting the standards of the California Environmental Quality Act and the Department of Water Resources. On the one hand, his farm sits on a steep slope along the rainy north coast, a ripe prescription for stormwater runoff for which interlocking and sometimes ruthless state agencies may have little sympathy.
âEach farm has its own challenges,â he said. “But we continue to fight the good fight.”
Origins Council executive director Genine Coleman, who has met O’Neill as part of her work with the California Growers Association, applauds the farmers’ diligence and wants to help them in any way they can.
âIt was difficult,â she told the Business Journal. âBetween COVID and the fires, it has already been a challenge. “
The main focus of the trade group‘s lobbying efforts is the passage of Senate Bill 59 introduced in December by State Senator Anna Caballero, D-Salinas. It extends provisional licenses until July 2028 to provide more time for farmers trying to comply with state laws.
âUnless the legislation currently proposed in Senate Bill 59 is successful and the interim licensing program is extended, the state could see the entire supply chain licensed. collapse, âshe said.
Mendocino, Sonoma and Lake counties have 811, 109 and 280 provisional permits registered with the state, respectively.
Growing cannabis has proven difficult in recent years in California, especially with raging wildfires. With his farm located 10 miles from one of last summer’s worst fires – the Mendocino complex – O’Neill estimated he had lost about 15% of his crops to smoke damage.
âIt affects the smell more than the taste,â he said.
The California legislature, at the behest of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office, is now grappling with methods to reduce the year-after-year destruction associated with these dangerous and economically devastating hells.
âIt has been increasingly difficult to cope with these extremes,â he said.
The Origins Council recognized the deployment of legalization strewn with pitfalls, with certain farms in productive regions encountering significant obstacles to entry or to maintaining compliance.
The association hopes to build on the rapid experience it has already gained in working on other massive cannabis regulatory and regulatory efforts.
For example, the council ran the cannabis naming program, which allows products to be marketed by region. The designations program signed last October was originally drafted and launched by the California Department of Food and Agriculture in January. The program, which has since been postponed, mimics the American wine-growing areas of the wine industry. Like the new cannabis program, these AVAs can provide geographic designations to product labels. No cannabis name has been designated so far.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been edited to remove the OC Regional Council from among the Origins Council members and to update the carry over of the Cannabis Naming Program.
Susan Wood covers law, cannabis, production, agriculture, and banking and finance. For 25 years, Susan worked for various publications, including the North County Times in San Diego County, the Tahoe Daily Tribune and the Lake Tahoe News. She graduated from Fullerton College. Contact her at 530-545-8662 or [email protected]