Surrounding counties have been discussing industrial hemp – and some have even passed ordinances allowing industrial hemp cultivation.
Currently, Glenn County has a moratorium on industrial hemp cultivation that was put in place last July.
Scott De Moss, county administrative officer, said they have been working to craft an ordinance allowing the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp – they’re hoping to have it ready to go through the planning commission soon and then bring the resulting ordinance to the Board of Supervisors for their approval.
Unlike cannabis, which has a higher level of THC – the component that produces psychoactive effects for the user – industrial hemp has less than 0.3 percent of 1 percent THC contained in the dried flowering tops.
The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 removed hemp as a Schedule 1 narcotic from the federal Controlled Substances Act, meaning both the state and federal government view industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity and not a drug. However, the plant looks identical to cannabis and can produce the same potent smell when they grow.
De Moss said they are looking at potential issues and working to address concerns – such as public safety and nuisances.
On public safety, he said in other areas where hemp is legal to grow, people have mistaken it for regular cannabis and so they want make sure to include signage making it clear that the fields are hemp, not cannabis.
De Moss said they are also looking at ways to mitigate the potential for smell nuisance during growing, drying and processing.
“We’re trying to craft it to be friendly to farmers and those who might want to do production type activities while keeping in mind the residents that live here,” De Moss said.
He said some counties have looked at things like having a minimum parcel size for those growing hemp – as most larger parcels aren’t within the boundaries of cities.
He said they’re also looking at options for those who may want to conduct indoor grows.
“I think we have a wonderful agricultural county that can really showcase this product, this crop,” De Moss said. “... What we’re looking at is protecting farms and protecting our citizens.”
De Moss said some of the potential benefits of allowing the cultivation of hemp include what it could bring to the local economy and its medicinal uses.
However, currently some states have struggled to get the product to market, De Moss said, in part because of the limited companies that are allowed by the FDA to create a medication.
“The FDA has a rigorous process of making sure things are safe to consume,” he said. “... What we’re seeing is there is a good future potential once the FDA gets more approvals out there for the use of industrial hemp … if I were a farmer, I would be cautiously optimistic.”
De Moss said when they started working on the ordinance, they conducted a survey through Glenn County’s website and they received a lot of feedback – he said a majority of the feedback was positive. He said they have worked to take what the public has said into consideration.
Recently, the Colusa County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance legalizing industrial hemp cultivation for a maximum of 20 growers and 3,000 acres.
Sutter County currently doesn’t have an ordinance regarding hemp cultivation but county officials have allowed for industrial hemp to grow within its boundaries as it is considered an allowable agricultural commodity by the federal government.
However, Yuba County currently has a moratorium prohibiting the cultivation of hemp.