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New Measure Would Allow Cultivation of Commercial Cannabis in Napa County

by Kerana Todorov
March 20, 2020


A new measure to allow the cultivation of commercial cannabis n Napa County may be on the November 2020 ballot.

On March 13, a group called “Keep Napa Green” filed its intention to collect signatures to place the measure before Napa County voters. A similar, but less restrictive, initiative was proposed in 2019.

Among other provisions, the proposal would restrict the cultivation of cannabis to 10-acre parcels of zoned agricultural watershed and also require any operation to be at least 1,000 feet from a residence, winery, city limit, hotel or other building. Cannabis also could not be cultivated on the Napa Valley floor or in Carneros, according to the proposal.

The proponents have to collect more than 5,600 signatures from registered Napa County voters by May 8 to be on the Nov. 3 ballot, according to Napa County Registrar of Voters.

On Tuesday, proponent Stephanie Honig asked the Napa County Board of Supervisors to place the measure on the ballot outright to save money and spare the “anxiety of running a signature gathering effort” in April. Honig, whose family owns Honig Vineyard and Winery, spoke at the board’s regular meeting after thanking officials for their efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“The group has demonstrated that they can and they will gather the necessary signatures to qualify like they did last year,” Honig said, referring to the proponents of commercial cannabis. “But the Board could support the democratic process while eliminating the signature gathering effort by placing the measure on the ballot by a simple vote of the Board. And this would be good for the public,” Honig said.

In exchange, the proponents of the measure would reimburse the county for a portion of an analysis of the proposed measure. “In addition, the group will donate 600 hours of community service during this crisis at the direction of the county using the time needed to gather signatures for the community’s benefit,” Honig said.

“If you do this, in no way you’re expressing support for this measure. Rather, you’re showing your support for democracy and for public safety,” Honig said.

Honig spoke during the public comment segment of Tuesday meeting. The matter was not on Tuesday’s agenda and the supervisors could not comment.

The Napa Valley Cannabis Association managed to collect enough signatures in 2019 to place an initiative on the March 2020 ballot to allow cannabis cultivation in unincorporated Napa County.

The measure, known as Measure J, would have allowed the cultivation of up to 1 acre of cannabis on properties that are 10 acres or more in unincorporated areas zoned agricultural preserve and agricultural watershed. Commercial cannabis can be delivered but not cultivated in the county.

The proponents withdrew the initiative in August 2019 as a “showing of good faith” in the hope that the Board of Supervisors would start the process of drafting an ordinance to allow commercial cannabis.

California voters approved commercial cannabis in November 2016. In December 2017, the Napa County Board of Supervisors put in place a moratorium on commercial cannabis activities. That moratorium was extended twice before the Board of Supervisors banned commercial cannabis activities in unincorporated Napa County.

The supervisors at the same time discussed organizing public forums on commercial cannabis. However, county officials on last week canceled the commercial cannabis forums scheduled for March 25 and 26 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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