Nearly 8 million Californians voted to make cannabis cultivation, sales and consumption legal in 2016, and the following year more than 360 farmers sought permission to farm in Sonoma County.
Since then, only 184 permits have been granted in a county that at that time was home to about 3,000 growers. Under pressure from many of those frustrated farmers, the Board of Supervisors 15 months ago agreed to streamline the permit process and treat marijuana more like other crops.
But those rules have yet to be finalized, and they are now at the center of a widening rift between commercial marijuana cultivators and rural residents concerned about the future footprint of cannabis farms in the county.
On April 15, the county Planning Commission will take another look at a proposal to give the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office more authority to issue cultivation permits without public notice or a hearing, a main point of conflict between growers intent on going legal and rural residents who don’t want pot sprouting anywhere near them.
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