CA: How Changing Cannabis Laws Will Impact Sonoma County


This very informative event was held on Wednesday August 17, 2016 (5:00 PM) at the SOMO Village Event Center, Rohnert Park, CA. It was produced by

First off, let me say that not only was this event enthusiastically attended, and well organized! The valuable information was dense in subject matter, and the presenters and moderators were very savvy and well informed on both the Cannabis industry, and its potential impact on Sonoma County.

There are several ways to approach writing about the event, and I choose to concisely summarize the remarks of the presenters so the readers are better able to follow their positions on the various topics that were covered.

David Hoffmann Phytotherapist, California School of Herbal Studies

David spoke about the very unusual constituents in the plant that can have profound effects on many parts of the body.

The closest relative is hops, and Sonoma County has a long history regarding growing hops. David remarked that it’s difficult to grow cannabis for therapeutic properties, and it’s one of the longest known herbs in recorded history.

David remarked that the plant is very confusing to the government, the regulators and the media. If you compare the publicity versus the facts, it’s safe, effective and can be cost effective. He additionally remarked the DEA is still saying there is no basis to its use, also noting that it was considered mainstream “official medicine” until 1936.

William Silver Ph.D., Dean | SSU School of Business and Economics

In terms of SSU they are considering the possibility of offering accounting practices and education regarding the industry policies. Another important area is in entrepreneurship, and this may be a way to help students in a regulated legal thoughtful productive industry.

And with philanthropy being important in this community, cannabis may offer a similar type of effort as in the wine industry. So cannabis may benefit our philanthropy.

John L. Tayer President & CEO, Boulder Chamber of Commerce

John emphasized that local regulation and actions are important. The state can be a major barrier to your implementation of responsible regulations, and allowing the business to thrive. So it’s important for the local community be willing to adjust and work with the state regulations as the process unfolds, and eventually work toward loosening conservative and unwarranted restrictions.

The Boulder community found it’s important to encourage working together with the industry leaders, knowledgeable attorneys, and city officials. Collaborating and contributing toward creating and implementing responsible regulations and sound business policies and operations can and does produce viable results.

John also noted that since cannabis was legalized in Boulder, the research and studies that have been conducted, have shown that there is no definitive evidence in the rise of exposure or teen cannabis usage.

Regarding black-market cannabis business; Boulder’s found that because of reasonably priced product that’s easily found in the retail market, there’s been limited impact regarding the black market.

He also noted there has been fallout in states surrounded by Colorado, as a result of the excess cannabis products that were exported out of the state.

The tax revenue generated has provided a major benefit to the community; there’s been 8.4 million dollars in sales tax revenue associated with the cannabis industry, and it continues to rise.

Hezekiah Allen Executive Director, California Growers Association

California is the industry leader in cannabis production. There are 53,000 independently owned statewide growers, collectively employing around 280,000 people. Cannabis farmers pay above industry-standard agricultural wages, and produce the state’s largest cash crop.

Hezekiah encourages, urges and supports the independently owned, small business cannabis marketplace in California, because we already have it, already depend on it and we’re already global leaders.

Cannabis is currently the most regulated product. Over 19 years in the making, there’s finally a regulatory framework for medical cannabis. What has been worked out by the legislature and the industry advocates is the following:

• Limit on cultivation licenses: there’s a cap on the amount of what one licensee can grow.

• Licensees are prevented from consolidating the amount of licenses in one ownership. This approach creates a unique regulatory framework; essentially forcing an independently owned small business friendly marketplace. It’s an important “specific” policy provision, for ensuring independent ownership and decentralized productivity.

Under this agreement, local control is the political bedrock here in California. In regard to cannabis, you need (on a local level) a limiting permit program. This is the first requirement for state licensing.

• The unique approach to California’s regulatory policy, is that they did require third tier mandatory distribution. It’s very similar to alcohol.

i. There is a third-party distributor that will transport every gram of bud, gram of concentrate, edible to the retailer.

ii. You can’t go consumer direct at this point.

iii. Agricultural co-ops; there is a 5% ownership restriction, meaning if I’m a cultivator I cannot own more than 5% of another license in the market place.

iv. 20 (21 technically) producers, acting together in concert as a cooperative, in fact meet that 5% threshold.

v. Cooperative distribution that is producer driven, focused, built on, and driven by the agricultural community. We know that ag co-ops are good for production.

Tactically speaking; policymakers, your cultivators are screwed, if you don’t permit distribution. From an operator’s/cultivator’s perspective, embrace this model as best you can and figure out how to make it work. Permits, co-ops: don’t fight it make it work. Over time the restrictions can loosen up. Making it work now makes you more competitive when those restrictions are loosened.

Cannabis industry leaders may like it or not, but this is what got 70 votes out of 80 members in the assembly. And this is what got 32 votes out of 40 members in the state Senate. It’s worth noting that 30% of our society is still entrenched in the old mindset.

It’s a compromise that the cannabis industry made, in order to realize goals like regulating cannabis, cultivation as agriculture, and addressing unlimited licenses for small producers.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: How Changing Cannabis Laws Will Impact Sonoma County
Author: Staff
Contact: (707) 887-0253
Photo Credit: None Found
Website: Sonoma County Gazette