Fresno County is circulating a “notice of intent” to adopt findings that a cannabis cultivation ban has no possibility of creating environmental impacts. The public comment period closes Dec. 27, 2013.
In technical terms, the notice of intent was generated by county planning staff to comply (on paper, at least) with the California Environmental Quality Act. In general terms, CEQA requires at least an initial study of zoning ordinances and development projects to identify possible environmental impacts; suggest and analyze alternatives to the proposed action; and mitigate environmental impacts where practical and/or where such mitigation is required by law. When substantial impacts are identified in an initial study, they trigger a CEQA requirement to prepare a full environmental impact report (EIR).
That’s not the case in Initial Study No. 6770, in which planning staff concluded that the proposed canna-ban has no possibility of creating environmental impacts. They said roughly the same thing in September when supervisors first considered changing the cannabis ordinance, but at that time the county claimed the ordinance was CEQA-exempt. No explanation was offered for the change in CEQA procedures.
Common sense suggests that an ordinance forcing all medical cannabis to be grown indoors — or worse yet, prohibiting all cultivation altogether, as Fresno County plans to do — will significantly increase electrical consumption and create other potential environmental impacts when the ordinance is applied to thousands of patient-growers on a countywide basis. Learn more about the carbon footprint of cannabis cultivation.
Additional comments regarding Fresno County’s purported claims of no environmental impact will be posted later. To submit written comments of your own, email Principal Planner Chris Motta by Dec. 27, 2013.