When California Cannabis Voice Humboldt, the political action committee behind two proposed county marijuana ordinances, recently announced agreement with environmental groups, it provoked a mixed reaction from the very groups said to be in agreement.
CCVH was responding to a letter sent to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors by four environmental groups that outlined the protections the groups believe a marijuana land use ordinance needs to contain.
As the Journal has reported, CCVH and local environmental groups have been at odds since the marijuana advocacy group began working on its draft ordinance. Environmental groups have complained about the allowed canopy sizes, among other details, and have accused CCVH of locking them out of the draft process and ignoring their recommendations.
Those recommendations were laid out in the Sept. 2 letter sent to the board of supervisors, signed by the heads of the Environmental Protection Information Center, Humboldt Baykeeper, the Northcoast Environmental Center and Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment.
So it came as a surprise to many when, a day later, CCVH released a sunny response to the letter, saying the environmental groups' comments represented "divisions bridged" and "the grassroots fully united" in an effort to convince local and state officials to pass regulations.
CCVH also said the group was "in full agreement with all that appears in the letter," and the logos of the PAC and the four environmental groups were prominent at the top of the letterhead emailed to CCVH subscribers.
But when the Lost Coast Outpost published the release and proclaimed a "consensus," Humboldt Baykeeper Director Jennifer Kalt took issue. CCVH had never reached out to her organization, she told the Journal, and she wanted to make clear that divisions were not bridged. She said that over the course of eight months, CCVH has ignored environmental groups' recommendations and she's not confident that the group will accept them now.
But EPIC's Natalynne DeLapp said she did speak with CCVH before the group announced they were on the "same team," and said the whole thing was blown out of proportion.
Of the environmental groups' recommendations, CCVH only singles one out in its letter, saying it will drop all references to timber production zones (TPZs). Previous drafts of the ordinance would have made marijuana cultivation a principally permitted use on TPZ lands — private properties set aside for the preservation of timber. This concerned environmentalists, who said it had the potential to further fragment properties and harm wildlife habitats.
What's unclear, based on the release, is whether removing "all references to TPZ" will actually prohibit marijuana cultivation on parcels with that designation, or just leave a nebulous regulation.
Kalt said simply taking out references to TPZ lands isn't enough to protect those lands, but it's a start. "We don't want something to pass that explicitly states it's allowed because we don't want to see an expansion of [growing on TPZ lands]."
The next draft is expected to go before the board of supervisors on Sept. 15.
As of press time, the Journal was waiting to hear the fate of the three state medical marijuana bills that are being sliced and diced in time for the Friday, Sept. 11 voting deadline in the state legislature. As of last week, North Coast representatives were confident that the bills would go before the Senate and Assembly for approval. Check www.northcoastjournal.com for updates.