Santa Cruz may ban commercial pot growing

A proposal before the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors would ban the cultivation of marijuana for commercial use in unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County.

County staff is recommending to the Board of Supervisors that only limited indoor cultivation for qualifying patients be permitted, and that all outdoor cultivation be banned.

The steps are being taken as Santa Cruz and other counties around the state prepare for the possibility of statewide legalization of recreational pot use in 2016. Supervisors fear Santa Cruz’s reputation as a permissive place to cultivate will exacerbate current problems. County staff is calling for policies that would limit the growth of pot cultivation.

The Mercury News reports, “The supervisors in November asked county counsel to rewrite the rules, prompted by a deluge of complaints about marijuana grows diminishing quality of life in neighborhoods and degrading the environment, from clearing forest, applying pesticides, to siphoning water from parched creeks.

“"The county is trying to severely restrict commercial cannabis cultivation," said Supervisor Ryan Coonerty. "The question is do we ban it entirely or severely limit it. We're heading in the same direction. It's just a matter of how far we go."