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Support Santa Cruz Cannabis

Soon the State of California will begin processing applications from businesses hoping to participate in the world’s largest and fastest growing regulated cannabis market.  The State application process has been designed to preserve local control with public safety as the top priority however continued delays at the local level are putting Santa Cruz businesses in jeopardy.  

Without quick action by local leaders, Santa Cruz businesses will be shut out of that process.

A simple solution is available: Authorize local businesses to continue operation while they seek state licensing.  This affords policy makers, staff and the public the time to thoughtfully consider the EIR, better align ordinances with state law and regulations and to reconcile local policy to the new reality of legalized adult use.  

Conservative estimates of the value of our local cannabis trade is $500 million annually, putting it on a par with agriculture and tourism.  Many of the hundreds of family farms and cottage businesses that have been operating locally for decades have already been forced to relocate to other parts of the state to avoid significant disruption or bankruptcy.  Others have had to halt needed investments, layoff workers and re-think their business plans.

Since 2015, by some estimates, as much as half of local cannabis production has been lost to other counties due to regulatory and administrative uncertainties.

Please join with GreenTrade to urge your elected officials to take action to protect and promote the growth of a safe, environmentally responsible, socially conscious, economically viable cannabis trade in our community by ensuring local businesses are eligible to apply for state licensing.

The consequences of inaction are serious and will affect our whole community.

Santa Cruz could lose one of its largest economic drivers, turn away millions of dollars in annual tax revenue, disrupt hundreds of businesses and families and be left with only unlicensed, unregulated operators.

The clock is running out, the time to act is now.

Please, write, call or visit your local representative and tell them:  “We Support Santa Cruz Cannabis”  Alert your friends and neighbors to the serious social, economic and, environmental consequences of continued delays in reaching a simple, common sense solution.  Become a full or supporting member of GreenTrade; click here to sign up.

 

Policy Goals

In recognition of the new post Prop 64 and SB94 realities we want the County to consider the  adoption of a fourth policy goal relative to local cannabis:  

Foster and support the economic sustainability of the local cannabis trade

In the short term Green Trade will continue to advocate for County action in the following areas:

  • Ensuring that local cannabis businesses in good standing are eligible to apply for state licenses at the earliest opportunity (Jan 1, 2018?)
  • Aligning the local ordinance with SB94, particularly definitions and license types
  • Creating a sustainable local tax policy
  • Creating a representative advisory board of stakeholders
  • Ensuring that WAMM is protected and eligible for state licensing

Among the specific actions we believe should be considered as soon as possible:

  • Creation of a registration program for manufacturers, distributors, transporters, nurseries and testing labs as a first step to allow local businesses to apply for state licensing.
  • Adoption of an emergency ordinance providing for interim or provisional authorization allowing local businesses in good standing to be eligible to apply for a state license.
  • Amend cultivation and manufacturing ordinances to more closely align with State law
  • Include cottage licensing
  • Strengthen the environmental best practices to reduce the use of pesticides, runoff, stream diversion, etc..  Maintain the ban on genetically modified cannabis.
  • Appoint an advisory group of stakeholders to study and make recommendations on a sustainable tax policy, code enforcement and other issues

 

Good Standing

Setting the Bar

The Green Trade monthly policy working group will meet in room 4 of the Louden Nelson Community Center 11:30-1 on Wednesday June 21.  Our monthly general meeting on Wednesday June 28, 7pm at the Freight Building at Depot Park will also be policy focused.

The working group will begin the process of “Setting the Bar” for an environmentally responsible, socially conscious, safe and fair cannabis trade in Santa Cruz County and defining “good standing” as it applies to eligibility for state licensing.

High quality standards, a commitment to best practices and the sense of community is what created our world renowned reputation for great cannabis.  As we transition from prohibition and quasi legal status to full membership in local and state commerce we have new responsibilities but also a great opportunity to provide leadership within the wider community.

The recently announced delay in the expected release of the draft EIR makes it nearly certain that the Board of Supervisors will not get to vote on the proposed final ordinances before the end of the year.  New state legislation and the agency regulations being finalised should provide a much clearer path toward state licensing.  

One thing remains certain, eligibility for state licenses requires local approval.  Local approval may come in many forms, (the state will likely provide some guidance). It would certainly be a local license but it could also come as an affirmation that a business is in “good standing” with the local jurisdiction.  

We do not yet know how the new leadership at the County Office – the replacement of long time Chief Administrator Susan Mauriello with Carlos Palacio – will affect how cannabis businesses are treated but we do know that the county staff have heard our calls to develop a plan that allows for business continuity and ensures eligibility to seek state licensing.  We need to be clear that disruptions are not good for anyone.

We’ve been invited to share our thoughts on what benchmarks or other criteria could establish “good standing” and that will be one of our focuses this Wednesday.

In other news:

State Bureau of Cannabis Control

The passage this week of SB94 now awaits only the Governor’s signature to become the law of the land.  This almost 60,000 word law replaces both the AUMA and the MCRSA language.  A lot of ambiguity has been removed and generally the new law should help small producers and processors to enter and compete in legal cannabis marketplace. The various state agencies who have been drafting regulations will now need to realign them to fit this law.  Public comment periods will reopen soon.

State Environmental Impact Report

The State CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) for public review and comment. This environmental report can be viewed hereThe Draft PEIR provides information about the potential environmental effects associated with the adoption and implementation of statewide cannabis cultivation regulations. Additional information on the PEIR can be found by reading this Frequently Asked Questions handout on the environmental review process. The release of the Draft PEIR triggers a 45-day public review and comment period to allow agencies and interested parties the opportunity to provide input on the environmental analyses, mitigation measures, and alternatives associated with statewide cannabis cultivation. Public and agency comments on the Draft PEIR are a critical part of the environmental review process.

The formal comment period for the CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Draft PEIR begins on June 15, 2017, and ends on July 31, 2017, 5pm (PST) A number of public meetings will be held around the state including one in Monterey on July 18th.

Marketing Working Group Update

A lot of progress is being made on collaborative marketing initiatives by our marketing working group.  We will share more information at our June General meeting but here are few highlights:

  • Progress continues on a “Santa Cruz Brand” logo for use by members.
  • A cannabis speakers bureau is being formed.  Brenda Chadwick and Christopher Carr are taking the lead in the organization of this service to reach out in the local community to provide reliable information on a variety of topics. A short generic presentation is being developed, speakers are being recruited and audience groups are being identified.
  • A “Swag Bag” of Santa Cruz cannabis related products for use as promotional gifts for visiting celebrities and dignitaries and as a prototype for future promotional activities is being designed.

Green Trade Membership Update

We have resolved our banking issue and can now resume accepting membership fees. A separate announcement with all the details is coming soon.  It will be important that prospective members sign up and remit their fees to assure voting rights, eligibility for election to the Board of Directors and other membership benefits.

Plans for a Professional Services focused meeting

We are planning to hold a general meeting (possibly in July) featuring service providers – attorneys, accountants, realtors, insurers, packaging, marketing, etc. – If you fall into this category let us know by email to info@greentradesantacruz.org if you would be interested in participating. If you are in need of any of these services, stay tuned for more details.

General Meeting, May 31, 7 PM

On Wed May 31 at 7 PM at the Freight Building in Depot Park in Santa Cruz Green Trade will host a “Small farmer, landowner, and cultivator mixer”  where we will discuss various issues related to cooperative arrangements that may be available under current proposed regulations.

Were bringing together realtors, attorneys, small farmers, and cannabis cultivators for what we expect will be a lively exchange of information about ways we can all work together to plan for the future of cannabis cultivation in Santa Cruz County. 

There will be a brief update on the current state of regulatory issues followed by short presentations about the opportunities and pitfalls that are associated with the proposed local ordinances.  There will be plenty of opportunities to get every question answered and to interact with other attendees. Open to the public.

 

What’s In A Word?

 

 

What’s in a Word?

Close to 50 representatives of local cannabis businesses met at the last Green Trade Santa Cruz meeting at the Freight Building in Depot Park to get an update on local and state regulatory actions, exchange ideas, and discuss collective marketing strategies.

The entire gamut of cannabis related businesses were represented from growers, processors and retail to distribution, marketing, and service providers.  There were 19 who self identified as cultivators, 12 manufacturers, 5 Retail/Distribution and a dozen miscellaneous ancillary businesses, like suppliers, packaging, legal, accounting, etc..

Attendees were asked to share if their product or service uses “Santa Cruz” in their marketing and what terms do they think best describes Santa Cruz Cannabis

Terms like “healthy” “natural” “pure” “environmentally conscious” and “organic” were offered.  “Blessed”, “cool” “hip” “fair” “original” and “artisan” were also repeatedly mentioned.

“Passion”, “compassion”, “community” “stewardship” and “love” were other terms that resonated with the group.

There was general agreement that “high quality” should be a cornerstone of local products and services as a way of differentiating Santa Cruz from therest of the State. Adopting and setting high standards was seen as a necessary step to protect the brand.

Our unique legacy, was seen as a strong selling point. From the communes of the 60’s and 70’s, the birth of the American organic farming movement and the success of the Santa Cruz Mountain wine appellation,  to WAMM, and MAPS, Santa Cruz has a solid reputation for fostering pioneers, innovators and risk takers. Our significant contributions in genetics, research, cultivation methods, processing and handling should be spotlighted as well.  

We do it the “right way” was a common sentiment expressed.

The local lifestyle: “laid back” “stress free” “tolerant” “progressive” were coupled with surf, sun, sand and skateboards. Active and activists were popular terms but the response that drew the biggest reaction was simplyThe best weed in the world”.

General Meeting, Wed., April 26, 7 PM Depot Park

Join with Green Trade Santa Cruz for a working meeting to begin the process of developing strategies, programs and events to ensure we are able to successfully compete in the coming regulated statewide marketplace.  Meet with others directly and indirectly involved in producing, facilitating and promoting Santa Cruz cannabis products and services to discuss shared values and best practices.

The meeting will begin with a brief report on state and local regulatory actions followed by an interactive session focused on the steps we need to take to be ready to compete and succeed in the statewide marketplace.

The event is open to all who intend to participate in the regulated cannabis trade including ancillary service and support businesses.  Please tell your colleagues and vendors about this important gathering.

We look forward to seeing you all in the Freight Building at Depot Park in Santa Cruz.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

And it’s about to get busier

The first quarter of 2017 is over. For Green Trade it was our first quarter ever and we’ve accomplished a lot.  More importantly however is news of what to expect in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Organization Membership Both membership and interest in becoming a member of Green Trade continues apace. While our banking issues have yet to be resolved (thanks for your patience) we are optimistic and have meetings scheduled this week to seek a resolution.  Because of this we have not been proactive in membership fee collection, once we establish a banking relationship we will begin a more concerted member recruitment and collection process.

We continue to offer two voting membership options: Founding ($2,500) and Charter ($1,500).  Quarterly and monthly payment plans are available upon request.

A third non-voting class of membership ($500) is under discussion to accommodate ancillary businesses that serve or support clients and consumers in the cannabis trade as well as marginal producers and other interested parties who only want to be kept informed about local issues.

If you have not completed our membership application process please take a moment to fill out the form on our website: http://greentradesantacruz.org/

Membership, Marketing, Events and Policy committees are forming and meeting we will update you on developments from each in subsequent communications.

Marketing/Events We are anxious to begin sharing our work developing short and long range marketing and events programs.  We will be rolling out upgrades to the website and social media accounts in the coming weeks including a calendar, blog and YouTube channel.  We invite you to follow us and connect on Facebook now.  Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other platforms are in the works.

We want to support and amplify member marketing whenever possible. While we grow the Green Trade accounts, the Facebook and Twitter account for SLVNews (administered by Jim Coffis with a reach of over 3,000 each) is being used for that purpose.

We’re taking notice of lots of member marketing including new designs, logos and packaging as well as print ads.  Watch for a separate email addressing progress and new initiatives that you can participate in.

Local News:   First Ever Cannabis Business License in Santa Cruz County Issued

Congratulations to Bryce Berryessa and Cookie 831 for becoming the first Santa Cruz County Cannabis business to be licensed!  The Soquel dispensary earned that distinction on March 22, 2017. A dozen other operations could receive their licenses in coming days and the Board of Supervisors seemed interested in allowing at least one other retail operation to seek licensure.

Pre-Licensing Site Inspections Over 400 applicants for cultivation licenses were notified that they are eligible to receive a “pre-licensing” inspection.  Those inspections were to begin this week. No information yet on how many growers have requested an inspection or how many county staffers would be involved in on-site visits or what criteria will be used to determine how compliant individual sites might be. Cost for the site visit is $2,500.

The over 500 registrants who completed the process anonymously are not eligible for the inspections until they identify themselves and update their registration info.

Manufacturing Ordinance Revisions to the draft ordinance regulating processing and manufacture of cannabis products are being made by the County Cannabis Licensing staff.  Green Trade hosted a a very productive meeting on March 23 with Licensing Manager Dan Peterson and his assistant Loretta Moreno that was attended by over 50 local business representatives.

Attendees were able to offer valuable insight on a wide variety of issues including the safe operation of processing equipment storage of solvents and other chemicals, best practices, taxation, zoning and much more.  Input is still welcome.  Of particular use are examples of similar processes in other industries and how they are regulated.

Taxation We expect there will be continuing discussion of the current 7% rate on gross revenue from all cannabis businesses at the next Board of Supervisors meeting April 11.  It is important that Supervisors hear how unsustainable that rate is particularly for the small operators that make up the vast majority of Santa Cruz County cannabis businesses.  Please plan to attend the BOS meeting and express your opinion.   We believe it is in everyone’s best interest to significantly reduce the rate to increase compliance, allow local businesses to compete on the state level and to help businesses survive and prosper in what will be a turbulent and expensive transition to a fully regulated market.

Reminder from the County Tax Collector: On November 8, 2016, the voters in the unincorporated area of the County of Santa Cruz passed Measure E. Measure E (Section G) states “Cannabis business” or “medical marijuana business” means business activity directly involved with, related to, or concerning cannabis, including, but not limited to, cultivating, dispensing, transporting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, processing, preparing, storing, packaging, or conducting wholesale and/or retail sales of cannabis and any ancillary products in the unincorporated area of the County, whether or not carried on for gain or profit.

A 7% gross receipts tax is due to the County on all transactions entered into by such a business whose situs is located in the unincorporated area, regardless of where the sale transaction occurs.

Businesses subject to the ordinance are required to: 1. Complete and submit a Business Tax Registration form to the Santa Cruz County Treasurer-Tax Collector at 701 Ocean Street, Room 150, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

2. File a monthly Cannabis Business Tax Statement and remit any taxes due to the Santa Cruz County Tax Collector at 701 Ocean Street, Room 150, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.  The tax is due by the end of the month following the month of reporting.