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New law puts 3,000 California growers at risk

A new law in Sonoma County that prohibits commercial cannabis cultivation beyond city limits means an uncertain future for some 3,000 growers in the northern California region.

County officials approved the ban last December and it kicked Jan. 19. The law was implemented in response to complaints against 15-20 commercial cultivation operations in single-family homes.

The zoning law restricts cultivation to Sonoma County’s agricultural, industrial and resource zones, which leaves out the more than 31,000 land parcels in the county’s rural residential zones. Growers are now faced with the choice of moving out of the affected residential zones under county control or stay in place and hope authorities don’t catch up with them.

“There’s no path forward for them,” Erin Carlstrom, a Santa Rosa attorney and former city councilwoman whose firm represents about 50 cultivators, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “This is causing a lot of anxiety.”

The county has reportedly already begun enforcing the ban and has acted against MMJ cultivators whose operations do not meet the zoning law requirements.