News—from cannabis to watersheds
The Hot Pot
The wheels of government turn slowly, but three state agencies completed proposed regulations for medical cannabis well before the January 1 deadline. Marin County has meanwhile told dispensaries to keep out, regardless of the state deadline.
Last week, California’s Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation, Department of Food and Agriculture and Department of Public Health released their much-anticipated rules for the industry under the Medical Cannabis Regulatory and Safety Act (MCRSA).
The proposed regulations follow a series of public meetings the agencies held across the state to meet with industry stakeholders about the kind of rules they’d like to see. The speedy state action comes as the Marin County Board of Supervisors voted to ban brick-and-mortar dispensaries across the county and only allow for delivery services of cannabis. The county has already banned non-medical sales outright.
On the other hand, the state is meeting life on life’s terms. The Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation has proposed rules on distribution, testing and retail sales. CalCannabis Cultivation, a branch of the Department of Food and Agriculture that oversees the regulations for cannabis cultivation, released proposed rules for cultivation, nurseries and processing and the Office of Manufactured Cannabis Safety, a division of the Department of Public Health, released its proposed regulations on manufacturing cannabis products which includes extraction, processing and infusion.
The regulations now go to the public for a 45-day comment period. Comments are due June 12 and can be made at the agencies’ websites. The regulations do not address the recreational use and sales of cannabis approved by voters in November under Proposition 64.
“This is a major step in an expedited and historic process to regulate the globe’s leading cannabis marketplace,” says Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the California Growers Association. “The state agency staff have done an impressive job meeting the aggressive timelines in the MCRSA. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty as the legislature and the governor seek to unify the medical cannabis laws and the adult use laws.”
Meanwhile, at the local level, the regulators have spoken and the dispensaries are a no-go, regardless of state sanction (see ‘No Go,’ April 19). As the state dutifully pushes forth on a sane and humane pot policy in the “Era of Sessions”—the same Marin County that gave birth to ‘420’ now features high school administrators lecturing Marin students on the evils of the killer weed on the unofficial regional holiday, thereby ensuring another generation of Marin stoners motivated only by high tides and green grass forever.
—Stett Holbrook and Tom Gogola
Swamp and Circumstance
Trump’s swamp monster just sucked up all of the water in the service of Big Ag as a compliant Congressional committee pushed through a Central Valley water deal brutally opposed by Rep. Jared Huffman, and which could have implications in watersheds and at water districts across the state.
A Monday release from the North Coast congressman blasted Trump’s cronies-only administration, lately met with news that former Westlands Water District lobbyist David Bernhardt is on the short list for interior secretary, as Huffman blasted the House Committee on Natural Resources for voting down a set of amendments he offered to House Resolution 1769, the San Luis Unit Drainage Resolution Act. His amendments would have “safeguarded taxpayers from potential self-dealing by lobbyists associated with the Trump Interior Department, protected tribal interests, required the cleanup of toxic drain-water, ensured that all legal liability be extinguished, and blocked water district officials under criminal investigation from handling federal funds.”
The bill is a payoff to the Westlands Water District, the downstate authority in the Central Valley, located in Trumpian Kevin McCarthy’s Fresno home-base. It requires the Department of the Interior (DOI) to implement a 2015 agreement between the DOI and Westlands “to settle litigation concerning the U.S. duty to provide drainage service, entered September 15, 2015,” according to the online legislative record.
The DOI built the San Luis Unit of the Central Valley Project in 1960 and the bill sets out to deregulate the operation and “eliminate requirements for [the] Interior to meet drainage requirements for such a unit. Each contractor within the unit that receives water for irrigation shall be responsible for the management of drainage water within its boundaries. The Westlands Water District shall assume all legal responsibility for the management of drainage water within, and shall not discharge drain water outside of, its boundaries.”
The deal, widely reported to have been negotiated in secret between the DOI and Westlands, gave a permanent water contract to Westlands that, as Rep. Mike Thompson said in a 2015 statement, “precludes any further environmental review or contract renewals. In return, Westlands will retire 100,000 acres of farmland, but that still leaves nearly 300,000 acres of impaired lands open to irrigation, opening the door to further pollution of our rivers and streams.”
One of Huffman’s failed amendments targeted the fisheries of the Trinity and Klamath rivers as it directed the DOI to “conduct a government-to-government consultation with the Hoopa Valley Tribe and any other federally recognized Indian tribes in the Klamath-Trinity Watershed that seeks consultation regarding the impact of H.R. 1769.”
C’mon, congressman! You really thought the swamp-keepers would let that one through the gate?—Tom Gogola