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CAnnAbis in sonoma County

A Timely UpdATe A special publication of The Healdsburg Tribune, The Cloverdale Reveille, The Windsor Times and Sonoma West Times & News

September 12, 2019

Permitting process through How to grow the eyes of an applicant cannabis, new Tree ranch farmstead wants to cultivate cannabis for wellness

step by step

By Katherine Minkiewicz

Looking to grow your own cannabis? Fertilizing and knowing when to plant is key

New Tree Ranch in Dry Creek Valley, a biodynamic farmstead retreat that aims to provide guests with a rejuvenating and hands-on farm experience, is working to get a permit to cultivate one acre of cannabis that will most likely be used for wellness and medicine. However, the permitting process is proving to be a big hurdle. “Through coming here four years ago and living on this ranch and eating this food we’ve all been able to get off all medications for all sorts of things from high cholesterol to blood pressure and our hope is that with natural medicines people can achieve those kind of goals and I think cannabis can help with that,” said Edward Newell, founder and CEO of New Tree Ranch. Newell and Arthur Deicke, the lead point-person who’s been helping New Tree through the process, started their permit application procedure in February and still have myriad steps to see through before obtaining their permit. Newell and Deicke took the time to discuss what the process has been like so far. The time-consuming and arduous task starts with completing a lengthy list of studies. “There’s biological studies, groundwater/water availability studies — a lot of different feasibility studies have to go into it and then depending on it, sometimes archaeological studies to make sure you are not disturbing anything. And then even how you are going to orientate cannabis rows, the state

By Katherine Minkiewicz You don’t necessarily have to have a green thumb in order to grow up to three to six personal use cannabis plants. However, if you’re new to growing and to cannabis, there are a few important steps to keep in mind before starting. Sonoma West Publishers sat down with Mitcho Thompson, a certified organic grower, to discuss the steps of growing your own cannabis outdoors. Step 1: Take a closer look at your local city ordinance

Photo provided

GrowinG BUSineSS — Ed Newell is the founder of New Tree Ranch, which is in

the middle of its cannabis permit application. and the county look into that. And so, it is just a whole list of things that you have to get familiar with the ordinances and state regulations and then hope they don’t change,” Deicke said. Other growers going through the

permit process, such as Santa Rosabased Justice Grown, have also reported having to conduct noise, traffic, odor and cultural impact studies.

See Permits Page 4

More changes coming for cannabis ordinance By Andrew Pardiac Sonoma County is beginning its Cannabis Ordinance update. The update is expected to be fully adopted by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in mid-July 2021. The outreach and work plans are expected to be complete by the end of this year, with public outreach happening in full by the beginning of 2020. Deputy Director of Planning Milan Nevajda said the county will be working to streamline the process for applications, something that has been maligned by those trying to get in the industry and their advocates. One shift that could save both the applicant and Permit Sonoma, which handles many of the county’s cannabis applications, is transitioning to a ministerial permit versus a discretionary use permit “We want to make the process a lot more streamlined,” Nevajda said. Ministerial permits have “very clear, objective standards as to what you need to meet. And if the project meets them, then they can move forward without needing excessive oversight from staff,” he said. Discretionary permits, on the other hand, “has taken in some cases, two, even three years with a very complex site and complex project with a lot of neighborhood opposition. That’s a really cumbersome process and it’s a significant challenge for those that want to grow and have reasonable grows,” he said. Comparatively, the cannabis ministerial permits in the

“Outside is easier. People spend a lot of money on indoor growing equipment when it’s actually quite difficult,” Thompson said. “People should check with their city, sometimes the city ordinances can have some issues like it has to be indoors, but most of the places in Sonoma County you can grow outside, at least three plants.” Sonoma, Cotati, Rohnert Park, Healdsburg and Windsor have banned personal outdoor cultivation. Santa Rosa allows up to two plants outdoors. In Sebastopol you can grow outdoors and indoors, and in a greenhouse according to Shivawn Brady, who works at Justice Grown and is a member of the board of directors with the Sonoma County Growers Alliance. She said the city of Cloverdale also allows for outdoor personal cultivation. “Each city has their own ordinance, so depending on where you are in the county, for instance the city of Sonoma, that’s going to look very different,” Brady said.

that you have the possibility of getting male plants. “You only want the female plants. The male plant really isn’t used that much in the industry,” Thompson said. He said if you have seeds, then you should put them in the ground by early summer, however, most people go with clones, a replica or a cutting of a mother plant. Brady said clones can range in price from anywhere between $14 and $21, but often the excise tax is not included in the retail price. There are several different types of cannabis, however the main two types are sativa and indica. Sativa is a subtropical variety that can have a lot of CBD and THC, whereas indica is shorter in size and has higher amounts of THC and according to Thompson, can often make the user sleepy. Thompson said sativa provides more of an “up” while indica provides more of a “down.” “People generally have a sense once they start using cannabis what they like and what they are using it for. If you’re growing your own cannabis to help sleep then your going to want indica and if your growing your cannabis for more recreational reasons or for anxiety reasons then you want sativa,” he said. If you want it for an antiinflammatory or pain relief, then picking a strain that is strong in CBD is a good idea. “You can get strains at dispensaries that are really rich in CBD,” he said. THC on the other hand has a stronger high, which Thompson said could be useful for people suffering from things like PTSD. Step 3: Plant in a three to four inch pot or gallon pot

Step 2: Determine which strain you want to grow

Photo Shivawn Brady

DiScreTionary vS MiniSTeriaL — As the county begins its ordinance update, officials debate on different permits to streamline the process.

Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measurements have taken four to six months to review. The Department of Agriculture only issues now in specific cases that typically do not have nearby neighbors.

So far, Permit Sonoma has issued two permits, both of which have been appealed to go before the County Board of Supervisors in September. This is out of 66 permits

See Laws Page 4

In regards to this step, Thompson said the most important thing to know is that there is a big difference if your starting with seeds versus clones. “You can start your own plants from seeds but you get all kinds of things, just like getting a bunch of different puppies from the same two parents, you’re going to get all kinds of maybe wonderful plants and some maybe that aren’t so wonderful,” he said. Thompson added that the real issue with starting with seeds is

“It is a good idea to put them in a one-gallon pot, but don’t disturb the root system and then you can put them into your prepared spot,” he said. Brady said this is an important step to start out in a pot and then later transplant it into the ground so any transplant stress on the plant occurs more gradually. “Start in a four of five inch pot and typically you’re not staying in there for more than two to three weeks,” Brady said. She noted that the quicker the plant is growing, the quicker it will need to be transplanted to a bigger pot or in the ground. “You’ll have a healthier root zone if you transplant at the right time,” Brady said. Step 4: Transplant Thompson advises to get the plants in the ground before Mother’s Day.

See How To Grow Page 6


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Page 2 • Cannabis • September 12, 2019

CANNABIS REPORT STAFF [ editorial ] aNdreW PardiaC heather bailey katheriNe miNkieWiCz laura hagar rush zoË striCklaNd fraNk robertsoN greg ClemeNti [ ProduCtioN ] maCi martell jim sChaefer [ sales ] teresa elWard Carol raNds brad sChmaltz

editorial

No shortage of cannabis questions t has been almost three years since California voters passed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop. 64) which legalized adult recreational use of all forms of the previously outlawed, cultish and notorious herb-like plant. What was once a story of shady business practices and sometimes violent crimes has now become a series of equally contradictory dealings in government permitting, neighborhood squabbles, taxation tables and dashed predictions. All that, plus the continuation of what might be called an even darker (illegal) black market of outlaw weed. One prediction made on the eve of the November 2016 Prop. 64 election has come true. The transition from an illegal market to a multi-billion dollar legit industry, it was predicted, would not come easy and would take several years and legal tinkering to reach a new equilibrium. This is not to say there have not been positive developments since the lifting of the marijuana prohibition. New and more accessible cannabis

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and hemp based medical products are now on local store shelves and available at local cannabis dispensaries where customers previously needed a doctor-approved medical marijuana card. Now anyone over the age of 21 can purchase and use edibles, leaf, ointments and oils for such ailments as arthritis pain, migraines, PTSD, anxiety, relief from chemo treatment side effects and more. People who prefer altering their consciousness by smoking pot instead of consuming alcohol can now do so without fear of getting busted. But the updated story of cannabis in California today remains one with many more questions than answers. And, there is not just one set of questions as there are varied constituencies with their own sets of concerns and unknowns. Among these are parents with teenagers, small would-be cottage cultivators, pretzel-twisted government officials, medical professionals, neighbors of proposed cannabis facilities, watchful wine industry competitors and others. “It hasn’t been a linear path for

the applicants, the regulators, anybody. We have to be pivoting constantly to move everything along,” said Milan Nevajda, the deputy director of Sonoma County’s Permit Resource Management Department (Permit Sonoma.) As it turns out, the path to moving from an underground pot economy to a legitimate day-lighted industry is anything but a straight line. Sonoma County’s history with cannabis is a long one and is currently the subject of a featured display at the Museum of Sonoma County. (The exhibit is set to close this week on Sept. 15.) Decades before the passage in 1996 of Prop. 215 (Medical Marijuana Program Act), the backcountry hills here were dotted with illicit and secret pot gardens and cottage operations. A few thousand rural land owners augmented their incomes from seasonal outdoor and year-round indoor “grows.” Many of those operations continue today, some with Prop. 215 medical licenses and many more without. Prop. 64 was supposed to signal the end of pot prohibition but, right now, it is not

happening. Only a small handful of cannabis cultivation permits have been approved and hundreds more are waiting in a long line of permit paperwork, land use challenges and very expensive startup costs. Our experiment to regulate cannabis as a licensed and taxed industry is beginning to look like how we ended the short-lived prohibition of alcohol in 1933. Just a few years after the repeal of the Volstead Act, four-fifths of the U.S. distillery output was owned by just four corporations. Regional beer making was typically controlled by a single commercial brewery. Good or bad, thousands of bootleggers and home brewers were put out of business by the new licensing laws. However we continue to pivot through full implementation of Prop. 64, Sonoma County should be faithful to its marijuana heritage of small, family-owned operations, very similar to our wine industry and farming roots. Meanwhile, the list of cannabis questions seems to be getting longer, not shorter. Maybe we need to chill a little. — Rollie Atkinson

allie sesser [ CirCulatioN ] Cherie kelsay [ bookkeePiNg ] jaN todd [ Publisher ] rollie atkiNsoN sarah bradbury

Email news tips and comments to news@sonomawest.com

BEHIND THE REPORT Thanks for reading our update on cannabis in Sonoma County. There is a lot still happening as the regulated cannabis industry market finds its footing, with updates to the county’s ordinance, education opportunities and the role of hemp. As these changes are considered, we hope this section will provide a base of knowledge that lets residents from all sides come forth and make their voices heard. Public workshops at the county are starting up for the ordinance and ideas are being refined as the hemp ordinance is crafted. As we look ahead, we also have the opportunity to let our representatives know our opinions not only on the economics of cannabis, but its environmental impacts as well. Plastics have become a large concern and are especially impacting our waterways and oceans. We’ll need creative ideas from many minds in order to reduce plastic in cannabis packaging, as safety concerns are higher for any drug packaging. We also recognize that the people trying to expand into these new markets are our neighbors, and like it or not, both sides have to come to the table ready to compromise so that we can maintain our diverse lifestyles with respect for one another. We hope this civil discussion can be something that is seen as an opportunity to know neighbors better, not something to be dreaded as an impending shouting match. It’s clear we still have a ways to go before cannabis is on more solid ground. Until then, keep checking back with Sonoma West Publishers as we follow permit applications, new businesses and more in this exciting chapter of our county’s history.

— Andrew Pardiac, managing editor

a special supplement to the cloverdale reveille, the healdsburg tribune, the windsor times and sonoma west times & news

Law enforcement not feeling big change after legalization But certain legal challenges around searches, uses still exist By Heather Bailey When Proposition 64 passed making recreational marijuana legal in California, law enforcement was faced with a brand new set of rules and regulations concerning the once illegal substance. But, in part due to the previously passed and longstanding medical marijuana (Proposition 215) ordinance, local police haven’t had to face a significant change in their operations. “Any 18 year old with a claimed medical problem could go out and a get a medical marijuana card, could go out and legally possess it,” said Healdsburg Police Chief Kevin Burke. “People I would talk to in the medicinal marijuana industry would privately acknowledge that 90% of their customers were recreational users using the umbrella of medicinal, so from a law enforcement analysis and practical standpoint, it really already was in many ways legal, so it really wasn’t some huge shift for us.” How can marijuana use still get you in trouble While the list of infractions has shortened considerably, and the penalties for those infractions significantly lessened, it doesn’t mean anything goes. The selling of marijuana to minors is still a felony, but otherwise infractions are generally misdemeanors or less. “If you sell it to a minor, it’s the one serious crime. Everything else, even if you exceed the one ounce limit for personal use or you are a minor in possession, quite frankly being a minor in possession of an alcoholic beverage is more serious than being a minor in possession of marijuana today,” Burke said. According to Burke, education on what is allowed is still needed for the general populous, as he still often gets calls for people using marijuana in a way that is no longer illegal. Use of recreational marijuana is not allowed in public so there has been times where users have had to be educated, even though penalties are minimal. “If someone were smoking a joint in the Plaza and we received a complaint about that, we would go down and treat that like a cigarette violation,” Burke said. “We would enforce our anti-smoking ordinance, which has much more teeth to it than what is left with marijuana law. Smoking a marijuana cigarette in a public place — just like drinking alcohol — is not permitted even after 64, but our city’s anti-smoking ordinance is a more serious offense. If you were smoking a joint in the park we’d be citing you for that, the smoking piece.” Local law enforcement grapples with role While adapting to changing laws is nothing new, and adapting to the changes wrought by Prop 64 came as no surprise to most law enforcement outfits, that doesn’t mean some questions have still had to be sorted out. “There was some question about, in the old days if marijuana smoke was coming out of a car and a police officer walked up on it, it was presumptively a reason to search the car,” Burke said. “We’ve had questions like that and the answer now is going to depend on the age of the person. If the person is an adult and the vehicle is not moving, it’s like smoking a cigarette there. We’d just walk on by. If it’s a minor we would do an investigation. So, there’s little things like that, but it hasn’t been a very significant transition.” Issues with illegal or oversized grows, sales or packaging issues are

Photo Heather Bailey

future use? — Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department K-9 Mako recently won second place in a narcotics sniffing

competition, but as marijuana becomes legal, questions have been raised about the usefulness of alerts from dogs that have been trained to alert on a now-legal substance. handled by the state, and they are something Burke is not interested in getting involved in. “The really big change has been in terms of the growing, manufacturing, selling side. That’s really the big change, and I don’t deal with that, that’s a state bureaucracy,” he said. “If you look at what police officers deal with, which is the individual with a joint or a small amount, that’s what we mostly encounter and that hasn’t been a serious offense in most police officer’s careers. “Selling and growing, those more serious offenses that we would get involved in, has just sort of evolved into not being criminal. The state is going to have to deal with that, I’m not going to prioritize that at all. Essentially, when it comes to illegal marijuana activity the only one that is still a priority to us is the sale to minors, all that other misdemeanor stuff has ceased to be a priority to us. If we encounter it and it’s blatant and we have somebody complaining, we may or may not take action like we can or would do with any other minor offenses. We might warn, we might take no action,” he finished. Police K-9s face a complicated future Police dogs who have been trained to sniff out illegal drugs have become an important part of law enforcement, but when a previously illegal substance suddenly becomes legal, it can complicate the training and use of those dogs. In Colorado, where marijuana has

been legal for six years, the question has already been making its way through the courts. In 2015, police officers in Craig, Colorado pulled over a truck containing Kevin McKnight. A police dog named Kilo alerted on the vehicle almost immediately, and a meth pipe with meth residue were found in McKnight’s possession. However, McKnight’s attorney’s argued that because Kilo had been trained to alert (and to have an identical alert) for a variety of drugs including marijuana, it was impossible for officers to know whether Kilo had alerted on a legal or illegal substance, nullifying their right to search McKnight and his vehicle. The Colorado Court of Appeals three-judge panel agreed and tossed out his conviction, which was appealed to the state supreme court. However in May of this year Colorado’s state supreme court ruled in McKnight’s favor. “The Supreme Court surmised that no matter how reliable his nose, Kilo could render a kind of false positive for marijuana. He has been trained to alert to marijuana based on the notion that marijuana is always contraband, when that is no longer true under state law. And historically, whether a drugdetection dog might alert on noncontraband drives whether the dog’s sniff constitutes a search implicating constitutional protections,” said a summary of the court’s judgment. “The court determined the dog’s sniff arguably

intruded on a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy in lawful activity; therefore any intrusion had to be justified by some particuarlized suspicion of criminal activity. The Supreme Court held that a sniff from a drug-detection dog trained to alert to marijuana constitutes a search under the Colorado Constitution because the sniff could detect lawful activity (namely the legal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults aged twenty-one years or older). Furthermore, the court held in Colorado, law enforcement officers must have probable cause to believe that an item or area contains a drug in violation of state law before deploying a drug-detection dog that alerts to marijuana for an exploratory sniff. Because there was no such probable cause justifying Kilo’s search of McKnight’s truck, the trial court erred in denying McKnight’s motion to suppress.” The concerns over the applicability of alerts that may include legal marijuana has seen some departments prematurely retiring their drug-sniffing dogs, and newer canine recruits are not being training to alert on the scent of marijuana in anticipation of it becoming legal nationwide. Once a dog is trained to alert on a given substance it can’t be untrained. For now, the law is having to determine if those alerts can be meaningfully applied to legal searches and investigations. Trained drug sniffing dogs can cost upwards of $10,000 so replacing them can be daunting for smaller departments.


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September 12, 2019 • Cannabis • Page 3

Hemp farms put on hold in Sonoma County moratorium in place to give time for local regulations By Andrew Pardiac A hemp moratorium is in place through April 30, 2020 as Sonoma County creates regulations for the federally legal crop. This covers all land in unincorporated Sonoma County. The moratorium is in place for all hemp, regardless of what it is to be used for. “The state had not yet finished developing the regulations for hemp,” Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said. “The county wanted to take a time out to develop local regulations around hemp in regard to zoning, where would we like hemp to be grown, the management of pollen.” Though the state created a way to register hemp grows, the controls on testing for THC content, eradication if its over and sampling had yet to be written. In addition, there is concern that hemp cultivation could interbreed with cannabis outdoor operations. Linegar said Sonoma County is one of over 25 counties that have put a moratorium in place. One of the next steps for the county is a Board of Supervisors workshop slated for Dec. 10 to discuss regulatory options. In order to understand the moratorium, understanding what hemp is versus cannabis is vital. Hemp and cannabis are the same plant. The difference is the level of THC in hemp must be at or less than 0.3% of the total dry flower content. As hemp and cannabis are the same plant, they can interbreed. This possibility poses a threat to both industries, as both can grow outdoors and cross-pollinate. If the two interbreed, then it is likely that future generations of hemp will no longer qualify as hemp, as the percent of THC would go up. Male pollen could also cause female cannabis plants to go to seed, something that isn’t desirable in cannabis flowers and can significantly alter the desired THC and CBD quantities. Hemp in Sonoma County is largely forecast to be used to extract CBD for medical purposes and therefore growers would likely only grow the female plant, which could also suffer from going to seed if male plants are near. There is also a market for hemp seeds, however, which will likely be mandated to grow indoors to prevent cross pollination, according to Linegar. Hemp, when grown for CBD, uses only the female plant to get greater quantities of CBD from the flower, which the male plant does not produce. Therefore, an all-female hemp outdoor grow is likely to still be allowed in approved zones. Hemp is also legal at the federal level, after the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or Farm Bill. This difference between it and cannabis provides greater protections for hemp farms. There is also a Sonoma County Right to Farm law which protects crops on agriculture-zoned land. Linegar has heard from anticannabis members of the community that are also against hemp. “One of the reasons they’re citing is the odor,” he said. In the cannabis permit process, the smell of the plant, particularly when it is ready to harvest, is brought up as a concern to mitigate. Hemp, like other crops such as grapes, would be protected from being shuttered due to odor concerns. “There’s lots of crops that produce odors,” Linegar said. Linegar said he was talking to the Santa Barbara County ag

opInIon

Cross CounTrY CompeTITIon

Photo Matt Barton, University of Kentucky Ag Communications — Hemp farms in other parts of the country, like this one in Kentucky, are able to grow on cheaper land that makes growing for

fiber a more feasible option. The most likely end use for hemp here when the moratorium is lifted in April 2020 will be for CDB or seed gathering. Get in the zone commissioner, who said broccoli Zoning is one of the other factors. has a particularly pungent smell after the harvest when waste matter Where hemp will be grown could be restricted to agricultural land but if left in the sun. there are calls to get hemp allowed “She said it produces a very putrid and strong odor that you can on rural residential (RR) and agricultural residential (AR) zones. smell for great distances. So until Agricultural residential provides the farmer comes along and discs all lands for raising crops and farm that in, it really really smells,” he animals in areas designated said. primarily for rural residential use, There is also the odor that according to county zoning permeates the county air certain definitions, and rural residential times of the year, which some have “preserves the rural character and coined the “Sonoma aroma.” amenities of those lands best “You don’t want to be setting a precedent for discriminating against utilized for low density residential development.” odors from a legal crop,” he said. Shivawn Brady has been working “As the ag commissioner, I want to with the county to figure zoning be cognizant of that, that this is a rules in the Hemp legal crop, that yes Advisory Council, it produces odor but it should be “You don’t want to be which Linegar leads. She is the vice protected as much setting a precedent president of as any other odor regulatory affairs that comes from a for discriminating for Justice Grown, a legal crop.” Linegar did say against odors from a company that works with patients on the that there hasn’t legal crop. As the ag medical, or CBDbeen any cultural side of resistance to hemp commissioner, I want driven, cannabis and hemp. in the ag industry. She is also, in “What I hear to be cognizant of addition to other from farmers, no that, that this is a cannabis matter if they’re a grape farmers or legal crop, that yes it credentials, cultivation and ranchers, is this is a legal crop federally, produces odor but it compliance specialist at 421 so they recognize should be protected Group, which that distinction for consulting cannabis,” he said. as much as any other provides for the cannabis and “So they’re all for hemp as a crop. odor that comes from hemp industry. Brady said that They recognize that a legal crop.” much of the land if it’s a legal crop, that can be used for then it’s another Tony Linegar hemp farms is in the opportunity for ag residential and them to diversify rural residential zones. She their farming operations.” provided data that shows 4,065 acres Linegar said that another thing may be used for hemp in these that would likely be different for hemp farms versus cannabis will be zones, in addition to several hundred split parcels not included how visible the crop is. He said he in those numbers. doesn’t expect there to be any “My biggest fear is that we’re screening or setback for the crop, going to mimic zoning for cannabis though it would ultimately be up to and we’ll exclude a lot of farmers the Board of Supervisors. that are in AR, RR and RRD areas,” “There is probably concern for Brady said. “A lot of the west part of something being mistaken for the county and the dairy belt are in cannabis, but one of the state laws these unconventional properties.” requires the field be posted as Brady said that it may depend on industrial hemp. But I don’t foresee any rules for fencing or obfuscating the end use as to whether these alternative zones will require a the view from the public,” he said. conditional use permit, which can “My sense is it will be treated like take longer to get than a ministerial virtually any other crop.”

permit. It would also be cheaper than cannabis to permit, Brady said. Registering and transferring crops will still likely be in place to similar crops in agricultural zones as they are for crops like wine grapes. Interesting economics “We’ve had a number of farmers express interest in Sonoma County,” Linegar said. “I think one of the big unknowns is, you know, is it really viable with regard to the cost of the land here. There aren’t any processors nearby to extract CBD at this point.” Linegar added that other states, like Kentucky and Colorado, already have large hemp farms saturating the market. And because it’s a new crop, Linegar said he hasn’t heard a solid economic plan from a farmer in the county to not only grow hemp, but create a successful business for it. “I think there are a lot looking into it, but none with an established business plan to roll out,” he said. “I think it’s a pretty strong desire for a lot of farmers in the county to have access to that opportunity to grow hemp,” Brady said, noting that there is a wealth of experience in cultivating the crop given the area’s history. When farms do begin, especially on agriculture-zoned land, Linegar expects there won’t be a size cap like the one-acre limit in place for cannabis. A large reason for this is the greater need for bulk in order to be profitable with hemp. “It doesn’t lend itself as much to small-scale farming,” Linegar said. “Everybody I’ve talked to is interested in growing for CBD. I don’t think it pencils out for them to produce for fiber.” Brady said that finished flower, which is pruned of leaves and dried, sells for $300 to $800 per pound for CBD use, which shows promise for turning a profit. “You’re not that far off from what cannabis farmers were getting in the traditional (pre-legalization) market a few years ago,” she said. Other countries like China, Linegar said, can sell hemp for pennies on the dollar when compared to Sonoma County. “I think the only thing that makes sense is growing for CBD on a fairly large scale and/or growing

seed for planting,” he said. “There is a shortage of seed.” Linegar pointed to one bill that could change the demand for CBD hemp in the state, Assembly Bill 228, which would set rules for allowing CBD to be infused in food and drink. “That’s a big thing, because if that passes, then that’s going to really open up some opportunity and demand for CBD,” he said. He also said the FDA will eventually come down on how CBD may be allowed in food and beverage and those rules would supersede any state law. Get tested In order to ensure that hemp is indeed hemp and not a cover for unlicensed cannabis grows, crops will be subject to testing 30 days before harvest. If it tests above the 0.3% limit it must be destroyed. Linegar said there may be additional measures put in place to prevent fraud, but this will be an issue the whole state will grapple with. “We’re working internally on how we might approach this,” Linegar said. Learning from others While Sonoma County has a moratorium, there are other counties without one that are just seeing there crops coming to flower. Lake County and the San Diego area are leaders in the state right now, Linegar said, and the county will be in communication with them as it decides its rules. “What were their challenges? What issues did they come up against? Whenever you have a new regulations and a new crop like this, it’s always an evolving process where you learn where you can tighten things up or make the regulations better,” Linegar said. Brady said that she is confident Linegar will use this direction and steer the county to a sensible path for hemp. “I fell really confident in Tony Linegar’s leadership. He has a very balanced view from both sides. I have confidence the Hemp Advisory Council is going to make recommendations that are workable,” she said. “It’s time for people who want to work with this crop to make known to the supervisors what they want for this.”

Cannabis Country

Cannabis’ growing pains ou might say that the cannabis industry is going through growing Jonah raskin pains. Over the past three months I have visited an unpermitted, unregulated cannabis farm and have talked on several occasions with the farmer who has cultivated cannabis commercially since the 1980s. He has been arrested several times, but has never been found guilty or sentenced to jail. He has had a very good lawyer. Every time I have visited the grower, who I will call “Farmer,” he has said, “I have not yet been busted.” He doesn’t expect to be arrested but he thinks about the possibility of a raid and an arrest every day. He goes to sleep thinking about a raid and he wakes up in the morning thinking about a raid. Every time a helicopter flies overhead he also thinks of a raid. That near-constant anxiety

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comes with the territory. The crop that Farmer is growing is not easily accessible; it’s on a steep incline on a remote property. Those factors, he tells me, might preclude a raid and an arrest. What has been striking to me the several times I’ve visited Farmer isn’t his crop, but his visitors who come from all around the U.S. to buy Sonoma County cannabis on the black market. They come with suitcases filled with cash. They buy hundreds of pounds and they transport it back to the South and the Midwest. None of the traffickers I have met have been arrested. They have successfully transported cannabis to Mississippi, Alabama, Michigan and Indiana where the price per pound is four and five times what it is here. Farmer sells pounds of his cannabis for $500, less if it’s in bulk. I asked one middle-aged woman who was buying pounds from Farmer if she herself was transporting it to the Midwest. She said, “No way, not me. The

marijuana is transported in big RVs where it’s carefully hidden, and the people driving the vehicles are middle-aged white people who look like Trump supporters.” I worry that Farmer will be arrested. I have suggested to him that he find another occupation in a legal industry. He told me, “Growing marijuana is all I’ve been doing for 40 years. It’s all I know how to do.” There are dozens and dozens of cannabis cultivators like him in Sonoma County who have been on the black market for years and who could use occupational training for new and different jobs. Now, many of them are in poverty. Last month I was interviewed by a wine connoisseur who teaches at Sonoma State University and who asked me why, if California legalized cannabis three years ago this November, there is still a black market. My answer to her was, “President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but as a nation we are still aiming to make civil

rights a reality for all.” It will take decades to make cannabis fully legal. After all, it’s still illegal by federal law. The 421 Group in Sebastopol offers a variety of services to individuals and companies aiming to get out of the black market and enter the legal cannabiz. The 421 Group has experienced some growing pains, but it’s doing quite nicely now. About 50 or so boisterous folks — none of whom seemed stoned — attended the 421 birthday party on Aug. 23 and talked a lot about hemp, a hot topic now. Hemp looks and smells like cannabis, but has almost no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in the plant. Most of the people in the crowd were connected to the cannabis industry: attorneys Joe Rogoway and Omar Figueroa; and Nancy Birnbaum, the publisher of the North Bay edition of Sensi, a lifestyle magazine that offers news and information about cannabis. Ex-Santa Rosa mayor Chris Coursey — who is running for a

seat on the Board of Supervisors — attended the fete, as did former supervisor Ernie Carpenter. Clearly, local politicians aren’t afraid to appear at cannabis-related events and rub shoulders, publicly, with growers, manufacturers and medical marijuana patients. No one consumed cannabis in the office during the party. Those who felt the urge went outside. I came away from the party convinced that Sebastopol’s future is tied to legal cannabis. So does cannabis industry consultant Joanna Cedar, who told me, “A plant is a plant is a plant, whether it’s called hemp or cannabis. THC and CBD are both going to be extracted and sold, hopefully, on an open market that provides genuine access to safe products.” That future can't come soon enough for Cedar, Rogoway, Figueroa and the team at 421.

Jonah Raskin is the author of Dark Day, Dark Night: A Marijuana Murder Mystery.


www.sonomawest.com

Page 4 • Cannabis • September 12, 2019

PERMITS: Studies and regulations cause hurdles for farmers Continued from page 1 Deicke said this has been one of the biggest problems since regulations change so quickly. “The state doesn’t necessarily keep up, or care about what the county does and the county can’t keep up with the state so there’s always a gap, but you have to comply with both,” he said. So far the ranch has completed their feasibility study, a study that determines the practicality of the proposed project, and the biological, water assessment and archaeological study. Once the studies were completed the package was submitted to county planners at Permit Sonoma (PRMD). However, dealing with the planning department has also been tricky, according to Deicke. Deicke said since the fires and recovery, PRMD has seemed a bit overwhelmed, causing a backup in permit review. “They contract out the planners to do the review on the plan and so initially when it was submitted we had a new contract planner assigned and then he didn’t work out and he was replaced. So there was a gap in coverage and movement on the process and they just put into place a new planner about a month ago and so we finally got some movement,” Deicke explained. He said this movement included clarification of some points in their

package, “We are in the process of answering those.” The next step in the process will be sending the plan out for referrals to different agencies, which will provide input and feedback on the plan. One such agency that reviews permit applications in its geographical area is the Dry Creek Valley Citizens Advisory Council (DCVCAC). The council is appointed by the board of supervisors and while they can make recommendations, they do not have decision-making authority. “We hear all use permits submitted to the county from Dry Creek. The county sends referrals to us and we contact the applicants to make a presentation for our council. We hope interested neighbors will also attend the meetings and share their thoughts on any proposed project. The council asks questions and listens to public comment and decides whether or not to recommend approval of the use permits. They may also approve a referral with conditions,” explained Sharon Pillsbury, secretary for the DCVCAC. “Our DCVCAC considers it very important that all applicants reach out to their neighbors prior to appearing before our council.” Deicke said New Tree’s plan received an “extremely favorable” opinion from the DCVCAC, however there was an initial

concern that the group did not complete enough community outreach beforehand. After New Tree receives feedback from the referrals, adjustments might have to be made. Once that is complete, then the PRMD planners can ready the package to be presented to the board of zoning adjustments (BZA). Deicke said the planner has to make sure the package has met all of the requirements and is as complete as possible before going to the BZA for approval. Simply put, Deicke said, “It has been a long process.” Since this is a new permit, cannabis cannot be grown until the permit is issued. The permit allows for 43,560 square feet of plants, or one acre. If New Tree is awarded their permit, Newell said they would process the plants — they hope to use a strain with more CBD, which is more associated with medical use, off site. So what advice does Deicke have for someone who may be about to start the process? Being prepared to wait and spend a lot of money is the answer. “You have to understand it is a long process … and there is a high initial cost associated,” he said. He added that it’s also vital to have your land assessed to find out if there is enough area to grow the amount you want. He said applicants also need to think about if they have proper roads and

Photo Katherine Minkiewicz

future site — The New Tree Ranch pasture is applying to be the future grow

site for one-acre of cannabis cultivated for medicinal purposes. The ranch off of Wallace Creek Road is also home to a biodynamic farm and organic compostproviding cattle. were growing it and I wondered if it would be something good for our project and so I started learning about it and looking at the oils that people would use on their bodies,” Newell said. Newell said he saw friends transform from having chronic pain for 15 years to having their pain taken away with cannabis oils and tinctures. “I was like, wow, this is amazing, this plant can do something,” Newell said.

access and adequate water. “At the outset you got to have enough money, enough time to begin the process,” he emphasized. The permitting process alone can amount to around $150,000 to $200,000, according to Shivawn Brady of Justice Grown. “I knew nothing about cannabis. I had been living mostly outside of the country and I didn’t know that it had gotten legal and I had my own views on it and as I started to look around a lot of the neighbors

LAWS: Public outreach by 2020, update fully adopted by 2021 Continued from page 1 given by the county total, including a few more given by Permit Sonoma for indoor grows which required less oversight. Nevajda said there are another 100 or so discretionary permits to go. He said he believes the permit process will begin to pick up steam now that the first couple have gotten the county more used to the process. “Hopefully whoever is in the pipeline will not be there is two years. That’s not our goal,” he said. “There’s a renewed push from my end to give resources to processing these permits while still maintaining services to all our other areas.” Nevajda noted that even if a permit was in process when an update takes effect, the application is locked into the regulations that were in place when it was filed and can only switch to the update if the applicant wants to take advantage of something new. Nevajda said that the County Board of Supervisors have been encouraging of a legal market, including getting people through the relief program that previously operated in the unregulated market. “If you are on an appropriate site, you’re following the regulations, you’ve been processing everything in good faith, their direction has been clear: the delay has been too long. We need to move these projects forward. And we’re doing everything we can,” Nevajda said. Still, there can be issues,

such as negotiating with neighbors, dealing with modification to the ordinance from last year, which Nevajda said opened up other options, and aquifer protection. “It hasn’t been a linear path for the applicants, the regulators, anybody. We have to be pivoting constantly to move everything along,” he said. Not everyone who has been involved in the process has as much faith, however. “Historically, Permit Sonoma has been struggling to issue any kind of business permit, but specifically cannabis,” cannabis operator and former member of the disbanded Cannabis Advisory Group Shivawn Brady said. “There are people who are suspicious about the backlog of permits and the lack of efficient processing as some sort of tactic to appease (District 1 Supervisor) David Rabbitt’s constituents.” Brady said that she doesn’t see the current Sonoma County Board of Supervisors as being fully on board with cannabis or the federally legal hemp industries when compared to boards of the past. “I don’t think that they’ve provided a lot of direction or support to the crafting of our cannabis policy,” she said. “I wouldn’t say anti, just really passive about it.” Brady said that she has worked in Sonoma County her whole adult life and saw some of the direction that is being given as a “backslide.” “James Gore introduced a 10-acre minimum parcel size at the last minute. David Rabbit consistently. I mean,

still be closely monitored, as will the push for cannabis tourism, similar to wine tasting areas at wineries. Since cannabis is not an agricultural crop, water use is not as protected and some in the industry believe water regulations for cannabis will become tests for water regulations for all in the drought-prone area. Some new issues to be addressed that Nevajda said the county was unable to address earlier were limiting grows in rural areas, increasing setbacks in residential uses as well as sensitive areas that may need higher setbacks, such as near schools. But once everything works well, the county could look into increasing grow maximum sizes, Nevajda said. There may also be a way to do edibles manufacturing in commercial zones, something that is not currently allowed at all in the county. The county will also reexamine “volatile cannabis manufacturing,” where concentrates are extracted using flammable or hazardous chemicals such as a vapor solvent. Before, not much was known about these processes, but now Nevajda said they have had time to look into these procedures and found there may be an acceptable use. To check for meetings as the cannabis ordinance update progresses, visit the county website at sonomacounty.ca.gov/canna bis-program. You can also email cannabis@sonomacounty.org.

in AR/RR and give back the cottage cannabis industry. A letter written by attorney Joe Rogoway also expressed concern in the delay, particularly as recreational cannabis passed legalization in the state with 59% in favor. “The county’s administration has thus far comprehensively failed to effectuate the will of the electorate,” he wrote. Rather than provide more permits for the large number of people estimated to have already been growing here, he writes, “The county has instead decided to vigorously pursue draconian code enforcement actions, often against people attempting to comply with the penalty relief program, but who are caught in an unworkable paradox of legal inconsistencies created by the county.”

Photo Shivawn Brady

use expansion — After the ordinance update, edible and

volatile cannabis manufacturing may be allowed in the county. he wanted to put in place a cannabis moratorium,” Brady said. She said the supervisors have acted more to tread lightly and not upset their constituency on a hot topic like cannabis. In addition, the ways of politics may be lost on newcomers to a regulated market. “They’re farmers. They’re simple. Not not smart. Just not maybe a plugged in as

maybe members of the wine industry that have been politically at play for a long time,” she said. A couple of the suggestions Brady had to improve the ordinance that she brought before county planners on Aug. 29 were: • Remove the cap of nine dispensaries and the 10-acre cap for cultivators. • Remove the 1-acre cap and allow cottage cultivation

Neighbor outreach Nevajda said that the goal is to get neighborhood outreach strategies done by November. Then Nevajda said he hopes to get several work groups done through municipal and citizen advisory councils for the public and get a cross section of the industry to come together at meetings as well. Gore and District 5 Supervisor Linda Hopkins are on the outreach ad hoc committee. “We’ll try to find those common grounds where everyone can agree and we have clarity for cannabusiness,” Nevajda said. More to address Water use and environmental impact will

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September 12, 2019 • Cannabis • Page 5

Wrapped up in California’s cannabis packaging laws abiding by california’s ever-changing packaging regulations is a headache for local cannabis companies — and a challenge to efforts at sustainability By Laura Hagar Rush In January of this year, the California Department of Public Health adopted new packaging and labeling requirements for all cannabis products sold in California. The new regulations replaced the ever-shifting emergency regulations that have been in place since cannabis became legal in January 2018. Local cannabis manufacturers hope the new rules will put an end to the moving target that has characterized packaging and labeling rules up to this point. “The constantly changing regulations have been a real hindrance to the industry,” said Rachel Smith, vice president of business development at Elyon Cannabis, a Sonoma County-based manufacturer of packaged buds and pre-rolls (packaged joints), as well as cannabis “sauces” and vape pens. “I know so many companies that have warehouses of packaging that, because the regulations changed, are just a loss,” she said, noting that it’s been difficult for companies to buy in bulk — and take advantage of economies of scale — because of shifting regulations. If the past is any predictor of the future, however, things may not settle down any time soon. At the end of August, the Surgeon General of the United States released a new warning about cannabis — particularly its use by adolescents and pregnant women — which may eventually end up required on cannabis packaging in California. But for now, federal warnings from the Surgeon General, such as those that appear on tobacco cigarettes, aren’t required on cannabis because it’s still illegal at the federal level — and how can you put a warning on something that federal government doesn’t even recognize as a legal consumer product? But don’t worry, because this is California, there are state warnings aplenty on every package of cannabis. What do California’s new packaging and labeling regulations require? The state’s regulations require that cannabis and cannabis product packaging must be • child resistant • tamper evident • resealable (if the product has multiple uses). Packaging for edibles must not only be opaque, but manufacturers are forbidden from showing an

Photo provided

Packing it uP — California’s new packaging and labeling regulations require resealable, child-resistent packing that’s tamper-evident. Additionally, the labeling on the package should not be attractive to children or make any health claims, including the use of the word “organic” in violation of state and federal laws.

image of what the edible looks like — for fear it might look like something that would be appealing to a child. In addition, the labeling on the cannabis package may not: • be attractive to children. • make health claims. • use the word “organic,” in violation of federal and state laws. • use a California county name unless 100% of the cannabis was grown in that county. And of course, it must carry the aforementioned California government warnings — the California Cannabis warning (see sidebar “You’ve been warned”) and, if the product contains one of the 900 chemicals currently on the Prop. 65 list, a Prop. 65 warning. Finally, every layer of the packaging must carry what is known, in properly cosmic lingo, as the Universal Symbol — a triangle with the silhouette of a

What’s on the label? From a state of California labeling checklist for manufactured cannabis products. PRIMARY PANEL — the part of the label displayed to consumers at retail; typically the front or top of the package • Product identity — A generic or common name that describes the product. Examples include chocolate, fruit chew, vape cartridge, lotion, tincture, etc. • Universal symbol (in black, at least 0.5 inches by 0.5 inches) — The California symbol that identifies items as containing cannabis. • Net weight or volume (in both metric and U.S. customary units) — The weight or volume of the contents of the package. Edible cannabis product labels must also include: • “Cannabis-Infused” — These words must be listed above the product identity, in a bold font and larger text size than the one used for the product identity. INFORMATIONAL PANEL — any part of the label that is not the primary panel • Manufacturer name and contact information * — Must be a name listed on the license certificate (either the legal business name or the registered DBA), and their phone number or website • Date of manufacture/packaging * — One date may be used. Include month, day and year. (Example: MFG/PKG: 02/23/19) • Government warning statement for cannabis products * (capital letters and bold font) • UID number — The unique tracking number issued through Track-and-Trace. • Batch or lot number • Instructions for use and any preparation needed * — For example, the method of consumption or application • List of all ingredients * (in descending order by weight or volume) — include sub-ingredients, if any • Allergens * (if applicable) — The word “Contains,” followed by a list of any major food allergen in the product. The major food allergens are milk, egg, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, soybeans, fish or crustacean shellfish. Use the specific food name when disclosing allergens (i.e. “almonds” instead of “tree nuts”). • Artificial food colorings * (if applicable) • Expiration, use-by or best-by date * (if applicable) • “KEEP REFRIGERATED” or “REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING” * (if perishable after opening) • “FOR MEDICAL USE ONLY” * (if applicable) — Manufacturers must include these words on the label if the product contains a THC concentration that can only be sold in the medicinal market. Edible product labels must also include: • Sodium, sugar, carbohydrates and total fat per serving * (in milligrams or grams) OTHER LABELING — May be on either the primary or informational panel • Cannabinoid content (in milligrams) – Cannabinoid content may be added to the label by the manufacturer before testing or on the distribution premises after testing. o THC and CBD per package (for all manufactured products) o THC and CBD per serving (for edibles and concentrates with designated serving sizes) o Any other cannabinoid that makes up 5% or more of the total cannabinoid content (if labeled after testing)

* Indicates labeling information that may be placed on a supplemental label.

cannabis leaf and an exclamation point. These packaging and labeling regulations went into effect at the beginning of the year, except for the child-resistant packaging, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. Until then, stores that sell cannabis products in non-childresistant packaging must put the package in a child-resistant bag (called “exit packaging”) before the consumer leaves the store. Some of these regulations sound relatively simple, even wise — who wouldn’t want to have childresistant packaging for a drug? But the devil, as usual, is in the details, and there are lots and lots of details in the new regulations. (See sidebar: “What’s on the label?”) “Some might say there is an issue with the over-regulation of packaging cannabis,” said Matt Simpson, Elyon’s vice president of sales, “but at the end of the day, we all have to follow those regulations and stay up to code.” Packaging challenges: aesthetic, environmental and economic Fitting all that information onto a small package is a design challenge, manufacturers say. “There’s a lot you have to fit on a small package so it’s hard to put it all together in a way that actually looks good to the consumer and keeps your brand looking nice,” Simpson said. “Fortunately, you can use different layers (of packaging) to satisfy different regulations.” The Garden Society, a womanoriented company licensed out of Cloverdale, is well known for its elegant packaging. Garden Society packages edibles and pre-rolls, and co-founder Karli Warner shares Simpson’s frustrations. “Having to work within those confines while also trying to build a beautiful, high-quality package for women to enjoy can be challenging,” she said. It’s also challenging from an ecological perspective. For an industry that started out with weeds in the woods in ecoconscious Northern California, the cannabis business is now awash in plastic — thanks in part to childresistant packaging and economic choices on the part of manufacturers. “What’s on the market is either inexpensive and terrible for the environment or expensive and working on not being so terrible,” Warner said of the mostly plasticbased solutions for child-resistance. “I don’t know if there are any solid, good solutions yet,” she said. “They’re working on it. I know Sharpak, our partner who does our pre-roll boxes, they’re working hard to discover different kinds of materials that are hemp-based or made from recycled materials.” Simpson said it’s surprisingly hard to find sustainable, highquality cannabis packaging. “We’re working on solutions for that every day,” he said. “One thing we’re very excited about is compostable pre-roll tubes that are child resistant — these things are supposed to be fantastic. They’re supposed to break down within 90 days in a landfill, or a year in standard trash.” “We’re constantly looking out for better, more sustainable,

reusable packaging solutions,” he said. “We’re looking into doing a jar recycle program, where customers can bring them in, we can wash them and get them back out there in circulation.” The problem is the ecological alternative — when there is one — is often expensive. “Right now our milk chocolates are in a Mylar bag,” Warner said. “Our preference, of course, would be for them to be in a beautiful box, but because the ingredients inside the package are so expensive — we use high quality chocolate, we use full-spectrum cannabis inputs, we use all organic ingredients — by the time we get to the package we’ve had to make some concessions to make sure we’re not pricing ourselves out of the market.” Looking forward Warner hopes regulators will take a more nuanced approach to packaging and labeling regulation in the future. “I think certainly edibles should be in child-resistant packaging, but I think for dark-flower prerolls it doesn’t make a lot of sense for those to be child resistant,” she said. “I just hope that the regulators can take a little more of an individualistic approach.” At Elyon Cannabis, Smith is philosophical about the regulatory challenges of cannabis. “It’s unlike every other industry where clear standards have been established over time,” she said. “This is just one of the hurdles we have to go over. In the wine industry, for example, the regulations have been worked on for over a hundred years, and we’re only in year two.”

Find links to all the new packaging requirements at cannabis.ca.gov/2019/03/07.

You’ve been warned The government warning statement for cannabis flower and flower-only pre-rolls is: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: THIS PACKAGE CONTAINS CANNABIS, A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS. CANNABIS MAY ONLY BE POSSESSED OR CONSUMED BY PERSONS 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER UNLESS THE PERSON IS A QUALIFIED PATIENT. CANNABIS USE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARMFUL. CONSUMPTION OF CANNABIS IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE AND OPERATE MACHINERY. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION.” The government warning statement for cannabis products, such as edibles and other manufactured products is: “GOVERNMENT WARNING: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS CANNABIS, A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND ANIMALS. CANNABIS PRODUCTS MAY ONLY BE POSSESSED OR CONSUMED BY PERSONS 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER UNLESS THE PERSON IS A QUALIFIED PATIENT. THE INTOXICATING EFFECTS OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS MAY BE DELAYED UP TO TWO HOURS. CANNABIS USE WHILE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING MAY BE HARMFUL. CONSUMPTION OF CANNABIS PRODUCTS IMPAIRS YOUR ABILITY TO DRIVE AND OPERATE MACHINERY. PLEASE USE EXTREME CAUTION.”

Photo provided

Marketable — Proper labeling can be a design challenge for marketing teams looking to increase brand awareness.


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Page 6 • Cannabis • September 12, 2019

Junior college to launch hemp cultivation program Slated to begin fall 2020, the SRJc is the first college in the state to offer program By Zoë Strickland Santa Rosa Junior College recently announced the development of a new agriculture program focusing on hemp. The program, slated to launch in fall 2020 with some classes available this spring, builds on some of the SRJC agriculture department’s pre-existing courses. “Hemp was legalized federally through the Farm Bill in December 2018 and that really opened the door for colleges and universities that receive federal funding to be more comfortable growing the hemp plant, which was previously classified the same as cannabis — as marijuana,” said Benjamin Goldstein, dean of Agriculture and Natural Resources and Culinary Arts. “The industry demand has really been primarily on the cannabis-for-marijuana side, at least in Sonoma County and locally for some time. The local hemp industry hasn’t really had a chance to emerge because of the federal legal situation, and now because Sonoma County has the moratorium.” By definition, hemp has to contain less than 0.3% of THC. Despite the county’s moratorium on hemp cultivation, the SRJC received an excemption from the temporary county ban in April in order to begin developing their program. Goldstein said that the SRJC will have the first collegiate hemp program in the state. “We wanted to be first out of the gate because we have one of the strongest agriculture departments out of any community college in California,” Goldstein said. “At various junctures throughout the decades we have developed new and innovative programs to respond to changes in agriculture production locally and statewide.” Goldstein cited the college’s viticulture program coming online as grape cultivation was growing countywide, saying that he believes hemp is at a similar juncture where grapes were. Like grapes, the junior college will be growing hemp at Shone Farm, where students will be able to study and research best practices for

developing the crop. Work started at Shone Farm in July, when around a dozen students helped plant the hemp. All of the plants in the 0.8 acre are female clones, Goldstein said, which will help prevent propagation. “We have gone from propogated clones and seeds to transplanting plants in the field,” said Tara Faber, an SRJC student who has taken on the role of lead research assistant. “In my time since starting in June I have come across so many opportunities to learn from tasks directed by George Sellu or from trial and error and experiments.” Faber worked at Shone Farm over the summer as part of an internship. She’s working on receiving an associate’s of science in sustainable agriculture. “When this opportunity came up I knew it would be the chance of a lifetime,” she said. “To work with George Sellu, a ‘master Agronomist’ and the team at Shoen Farm has been an experience I could have only dreamed about. Now that the college is about to add hemp as an AS option, I will be completing that program alongside my AS in sustainable agriculture.” Though that part of the farm isn’t certified organic, the planting was performed using all-organic practices. “We’re using organic practices to grow the crop — so we’re keeping track of irrigation, we’re keeping track of pest management,” said George Sellu, an SRJC professor who will be teaching some of the foundational agricultural courses. “We decided to do all of those things, and are also looking at if we can also grow those crops with other crops in the county without negatively impacting other crops.” “There’s a lot of unanswered questions on best practices — where, when, how should we grow this crop, what resources are required,” Sellu said. The SRJC program intends to answer those questions, both for its own research and to assist the county. Students in the program will conduct research to help better understand ideal growing conditions — according to its website, they will specifically be looking at good farming practices for sustainable outdoor cultivation, how to properly educate and prepare students to enter the hemp cultivation workforce

Photo Tara Faber

Plant PeOPle — Clorissa Lepe and Joe Lee take care of the plants that were planted at the Sonoma County Junior College’s farm in July.

and how to effectively teach skills that lend themselves to hemp cultivation. More notably, they’re also studying how the proximity of hemp to wine grapes will impact the grapes. At Shone Farm, the patch of hemp is being grown near the farm’s small plot of student grapes, Sellu said. “We don’t have answers for that and the ag commissioner wants those answers,” he said. “We see this as helping answer questions for local farmers who want to help integrate this crop into their farms, and then we also want to work with industry folks in terms of what skillsets they’ll want.” As of right now, there aren’t any immediate plans to have the program expand into teaching about testing and processing, or manufacturing. “The testing and processing side would fall primarily under a lab technician,” Goldstein said. “There is a need for that workforce and we hope to expand eventually and possibly establish a lab technician certificate as well, but we don’t have that course currently on the books.”

HOW TO GROW: A guide to growing cannabis outdoors continued from Page 1

When preparing the transplant spot, it is a good idea to add some organic compost into the space, however, he warned not to overdo it. Step 5: Keep up on maintenance

So what about maintenance like watering and dealing with pests?

Thompson explained that there isn’t a lot concern with pests as it can be more common to get bugs like aphids indoors since there are no “checks and balances that have all of the other good bugs.” He said if the leaves start to get yellow while outside then pick off the leaves and keep the branches thinned out a little to allow for good airflow. And in terms of watering, “The more water you give them the more they will grow, they’re the second-fastest growing plant,” he said. The fastest growing plant in the world is bamboo, with a growth rate of 35 inches per day according to Guinness World Records. For sun exposure if your growing for THC, you want full sun and if you are growing for CBD you want partial shade. Cannabis is an annual plant, meaning it completes its life cycle within one growing season and dies, so growth time is about six months. “They go from a teensy seed to this 15 foot plant in about six months, Thompson said. According to Thompson when the days become shorter than the nights that’s when the plant

Manufacturing is in the same boat, he said. Adopting certificated programs for lab or manufacturing technicians would require a sizeable financial investment in materials that the college doesn’t currently have and while Goldstein would like to establish those certificate programs in the future, he said that they “just wanted to start the program with what we could do well right now — and that’s the cultivation side.” As it stands, the program will have two primary focus points — nursery management and sustainable agriculture. According to Sellu, students will be able to choose electives based on each track, which will help them form a stronger specialization. By working with other students in the farm, Faber said that she’s also been able to help other students learn and has “become more knowledgeable myself by teaching them how to complete the tasks.” “At the end of the day, you want the students to be employed when they get out of college,” Sellu said.

Photo provided

inch by inch — The SRJC planted

0.8 acres of female hemp plants as part of their research into the best growing practices for cultivating the plant.

Other helpful resources:

growth kicks into high gear. He said the best time for getting the most out of plant is fertilizing. Step 6: Harvest

Ordinance info: To view the county ordinance on personal cultivation, visit: sonomacounty.ca.gov/Cannabis/Personal-Use-andCultivation/#cultivation. For compliance and cultivation information, visit the Sonoma County Growers Alliance resource page at scgalliance.com/resources. Dispensaries: Alternatives Collective 707-525-1420 1603 Hampton Way, Santa Rosa Mercy Wellness Dispensary of Cotati 707-795-1600 7950 Redwood Drive, No. 8, Cotati OrganiCann 707-588-8811 301 E. Todd Road, Santa Rosa Red Door Remedies 707-894-6054 1215 S. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale

Harvest time can happen any time between September and October. “The longer you wait the more you get, but you have to watch your plants, you don’t want to wait too long,” he said. He said you can use the whole plant for CBD — you can cut up leaves, buds or stems and use it in tinctures or oils. “The reality is you don’t need that much to make enough medicine for your family for a year,” he said.

Redwood Herbal Alliance Dispensary 707-528-3632 Aero Drive, Santa Rosa Riverside Wellness Collective 707-869-8008 15025 River Road, Guerneville SPARC 707-843-3227 1061 N. Dutton Ave., Santa Rosa Solful 707-596-9040 785 Gravenstein Hwy., South, Sebastopol

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