By Deb Murphy

The fifth of twelve community outreach sessions in Inyo County Planning Department’s pursuit of consensus on commercial cannabis was held for District 1 residents Thursday night at Northern Inyo Healthcare District’s board room.

With a smaller showing than the debut of the process in Big Pine last week, the eight residents, three of whom not from District 1, basically gave a thumbs up to a range of marijuana businesses. As to the smaller numbers compared to Big Pine, District 1 Supervisor Dan Totheroh hoped that reflected a confidence in the process by his constituents.

Interim Planning Director Cathreen Richards started with the basics, information she’ll probably be reciting in her sleep by the time the pot parade hits its final venue in Tecopa April 5.  She then went into a discussion of personal and commercial cultivation and the related businesses, soliciting comments along the way.

  • Personal Cultivation: District 1 Planning Commissioner Frank Stewart suggested a county-wide approach to regulatory ordinances rather than a neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach. “That will streamline the permitting process,” he said.

  • Commercial Cultivation: Many residential lots in the Dixon Lane/Meadow Creek and 40-Acres sections of District 1 are appropriately sized for a Type 1 (5,000 to 10,000 square feet) commercial cultivation permit. In response to a question on growing more conventional consumables, Richards said orchards, field crops and gardens are allowed in residential zones with no set-backs. Stewart suggested the conditional use permit process would allow neighbor input on the size and type of commercial operations in residential zones. All eight agreed on commercial cultivation in residential zones with some restrictions but no extreme set-backs.

  • Manufacturing: Assuming only Type 1, no volatile solvents, permits would be allowed outside heavy industrial zones, basically non-existent in the valley, everyone agreed with manufacturing in both commercial and light industrial zones.

  • Retail, Delivery, Microbusinesses: Again, the consensus was “yes” to all three in commercial zones. Microbusinesses can cover a range of small-scale operations including cultivation, manufacturing, retail, etc., everything but testing labs. However, agriculture and industrial activity is not allowed in commercial zones. The suggested solution was a rezoning to accommodate a microbusiness.

The next meeting will be held for District 3 residents at Jill Kinmont Boothe School Monday, March 20 starting at 6 p.m.