Growing Pains as California Counties License Growers

Working in the ganja fields is much less exhausting when the sun isn't shining.

Grown by Hollyweed Seed Co. -CJ Brian

Many rural California communities have high expectations over the prospect of commercial cannabis cultivation, officially licensed by local authorities under provisions of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MMRCA), which was passed by Sacramento last year. Humboldt County issued its first commercial cultivation licenses this summer. Now a less likely entry, Kern County in the conservative southern end of the Central Valley, has seen its first licenses. These were issued by the municipality of California City, where officials expressed some surprise at their own actions. “It’s a new industry for us. It kind of came and dropped in our laps,” city manager Tom Weil told Bakersfield’s KBAK. “It’s not something we were looking for.”

At least 15 cultivation sites in California City are to be granted permits, for starters. “We don’t have a lot of retail here,” said Weil. “But we expect with this business coming in that it will generate more jobs, more opportunity, more demand for retail.”

But the down side to the daylighting of the industry was made clear in the recent outcry from growers who applied for licenses in Calaveras County, in the Sierra Nevada. The county planning department released all the names and addresses of applicants, leaving them feeling “like they have a target on their back,” according to Sacramento’s KXTV Oct. 14. Planning director Peter Maurer todl the station that the county had no choice but to release the names. “It’s called Public Records Act and agencies have to provide records that we have to the public,” Maurer said. “We redacted the sensitive information and medical as well as personal identification then released it to the public and the media that requested it.”

But the growers apparently didn’t expect this, and say release of the names was an invasion of privacy that leaves them vulnerable to thieves. And they say it’s started already. Grower Kurt Von Putekammer told KXTV that armed robbers raided his property and made off with 30 plants. “This isn’t coincidental,” Von Putekammer said. “Three days after the names were released we were hit.”

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