Santa Cruz County is opening a wider door for farmers hoping to cultivate cannabis on their agricultural land, but not all county leaders are onboard.
In a split 3-2 vote Tuesday, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors approved the latest iteration of regulation changes to streamline licensing of cannabis cultivators who grow on farmland and in other nonresidential areas — with the goal of licensing at least 75 pot growers within the next year.
Dozens of pot growers are working under temporary authorizations, but none are licensed by the county, according to the county Cannabis Licensing Office. And tax revenue from cannabis cultivation, meanwhile, is so far unable to sustain the county program itself.
In one major policy shift, a restriction that applicants must have pre-registered with the county in 2016 is being eliminated. The restriction had been put in place to protect the local market from a flood of outside competitors, but only 57 of the 760 pre-registered growers have so far applied for a cultivation license — and just 11 have made significant headway, according to a staff report.