Hemp cultivation in Sonoma County could be temporarily suspended

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County supervisors believe it could impact Sonoma’s marijuana industry

Two supervisors in Sonoma County, California want to institute a temporary ban on industrial hemp cultivation. They feel that it presents a problem for law enforcement and that it could also damage the county’s legal marijuana cultivation. Across the state, 15 counties have already imposed similar bans and five others are considering doing the same thing.

Sonoma County Supervisors Lynda Hopkins and James Gore are proposing the measure. Hopkins notes that the county has no regulations for hemp like it does for cannabis and asserts, “We are just not ready to have it unleashed countywide.” Both supervisors are on the county’s cannabis committee.

According to a report by Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar, hemp and cannabis “cannot be reliably distinguished” without the use of testing equipment to measure the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This puts law enforcement officials at a disadvantage, asserts the supervisors, as they cannot determine which regulations are applicable to a particular situation.

The report also asserted that pollen contamination from male hemp plants that are grown for seed production could damage female cannabis crops. It added, “This poses a risk to the current legal cannabis industry in Sonoma County.”

To that, Hopkins states, “That’s why we need to say timeout and do a little homework.”

However, the supervisors may be going overboard with their desire to protect cannabis. If there is enough of a buffer between the two crops – ten miles, at least – there shouldn’t be any problem with cross-pollination. As far as distinguishing cannabis from hemp, it’s not as difficult as the supervisors try to make it appear.

Nonetheless, implementing a temporary ban may not be a bad thing, as it will allow the right questions to be answered and could help protect both cannabis and hemp farmers. As long as the ban isn’t made permanent, it’s a reasonable solution.