By Deb Murphy
After four hours of discussion, three things stood out as the Inyo Board of Supervisors thrashed through the latest iteration of the county’s commercial cannabis ordinance.
- According to the consultant from Hinderliter de Llamas and Associates, the California marijuana market may be oversubscribed with more cannabis license seekers than cannabis users.
- The only retail shops may be located in the Bishop or the far reaches of south county unless a microbusiness combines retail with some other cannabis operation.
- Sixth-two percent of the folks in Olancha/Cartago really, really don’t want anything to do with pot.
Following a series of local workshops, the county’s work group made a few adjustments in the original ordinance introduced last month.
After the public comment period and Supervisors’ discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, more fine tuning ended up with commercial operations banned in rural residential zoning on lots smaller than 12 acres, whittled down by a 300-foot buffer zone. The one exception was made in the Stewart Valley/Charleston View area with a whole lot of 2.5-acre parcels and an enthusiastic grower community.
The seven-year license semi-cap – license holders would have to go through a competitive renewal process – was extended to 10 years, then removed altogether.
The grand finale—setting limits on the number of licenses issued in 11 zones – took less time and was less traumatic than the Board anticipated. Zones one through four conform exactly, or closely, to their respective supervisorial districts. South County— with the most privately held land and diverse populations– ended up being divided into seven zones. And, that’s where the process started with District 5 Supervisor Matt Kingsley.
Here’s how the numbers played out:
Area 5G—Stewart and Sandy valleys plus Charleston View: 15 total cultivation licenses, split between less than 5,000 square feet or less than 10,000 square feet; 1 retail, 10 Type 1 (non-volatile chemicals) manufacturing, 1 each testing and distribution and 2 microbusiness licenses.
Area 5F—Shoshone, Chicago Valley, Tecopa: 10 total cultivation; 5 Type 1 manufacturing; 1 each testing and retail, 2 each distribution and microbusiness
Area 5E–China Lake and Trona: 5 total cultivation, 2 Type 1 and 1 Type 2 manufacturing, 1 each testing, retail and microbusiness and 2 distribution.
Area 5D—Darwin and Keeler: 2 cultivation, 1 each manufacturing, distribution and testing.
Area 5C—Pearsonville/Little Lake: 5 cultivation, 1 each microbusiness, retail, manufacturing, testing and distribution
Area 5B—Olancha/Cartago: nothing
Area 5A—Lone Pine: 2 cultivation, 1 each microbusiness, testing, distribution, manufacturing and no retail.
Area 4—Wilkerson south to Independence: 2 cultivation, 1 each manufacturing, distribution and microbusiness and no retail
Area 3—West Bishop: little to no appropriate zoning for any of the licenses.
Area 2—Laws is the only unincorporated area of District 2: 2 indoor cultivation; 2 manufacturing and 1 each testing and distribution
Area 1: Bishop Creek and North County: 2 cultivation; 2 retail and 1 each manufacturing, testing, distribution and microbusiness.
More speakers protested any commercial cannabis operations during the public comment period than had spoken at any of the previous board discussions or the initial public workshops held last spring—the majority from Olancha/Cartago. They cited pesticide use, water issues, drug traffickers, big ugly greenhouses and a questionable labor force.
Supervisor Jeff Griffith reminded the anti-cannabis folks the county had floated advisory measures on the November 2016 ballot and the majority was open to commercial operations. Even Olancha/Cartago voted aye to commercial cannabis businesses by a slim majority.
There are still more steps before the draft ordinance goes into effect, starting with the Planning Commission meeting December 20. The goal is January 2 for the first reading of the final ordinance; the second reading January 9 and then the ordinances go into effect 30 days later.