williamson act california cannabis
Like this, but with cannabis.

California legislators have so far proposed additional than forty new hashish legislation for the 2019 session, ranging from cannabis tax reductions to banking reforms to celebration buses. But one particular bill stands out as a likely important transform to cannabis and hemp cultivation all through the state: SB-527 would increase language to a California regulation regarded as the Williamson Act clarifying that hashish and hemp cultivation count as “agricultural” or “compatible uses” less than agricultural land conservation contracts made pursuant to the Williamson Act, thus generating cannabis and hemp cultivation presumptively permissible functions less than these contracts.

The Williamson Act—officially recognised as the California Land Conservation Act of 1965—creates a framework by which a metropolis or county can enter into a private agreement with a landowner, whereby the community government agrees to offer a reduction in residence taxes in trade for the landowner agreeing to limit advancement on and limit the use of his or her land to actions that are retaining or compatible with agricultural use of the land. In flip, the state traditionally would give funding to the nearby authorities to make up for the ensuing losses in assets tax earnings, whilst individuals payments have ceased pursuing the state’s budget fiasco in 2009. The law’s aim is to give nearby governments a streamlined tool for preserving agricultural land and open up areas.

While the Williamson Act presently does not specify what land utilizes qualify as “compatible” with agriculture, it offers regional governments sufficient discretion in producing that determination, and also gives some examples of progress pursuits that presumptively qualify as agricultural-esque, this kind of as “the erection, development, alteration, or maintenance of gasoline, electrical, h2o, communication, or agricultural laborer housing amenities.” Notwithstanding the passage of Prop. sixty four in 2016 legalizing hashish and creating a seed-to-sale regulatory regime for commercial hashish, Williamson Act contracts have in many localities remained a resource of uncertainty and hence an impediment on the proliferation of certified hashish cultivation. Relatedly, the existence of a Williamson Act contract has designed a pink flag for functions in search of to lease or obtain land for hashish takes advantage of.

What SB-527 would effectively do is increase the enumerated illustrations of “compatible uses” to consist of “commercial cultivation of hashish … or industrial hemp … both on your own or in conjunction with other takes advantage of consistent with” the Williamson Act. What SB-527 would not do, having said that, is limit county and metropolis governments’ ability to limit or prohibit professional cannabis and hemp current condition hashish guidelines preserve their means to do so (whilst the extent of that authority when it will come to stopping hashish supply is now up for debate), and of training course nearby governments keep the skill to prohibit or regulate all industrial hashish takes advantage of through zoning regulations.

Instead, the web outcome of SB-527, if passed, is twofold: (1) it could improve the source of possible hashish and hemp farmland by eradicating uncertainty about use restrictions beneath present and foreseeable future lands encumbered by Williamson Act contracts and (two) would power area governments to consider an added legislative step if they seek to prohibit hashish or hemp makes use of on Williamson Act-enrolled lands, rather than just relying on ambiguity in existing Williamson Act contracts.

The proposed changes to the Williamson Act could also be seen as a legislative clarification and codification of prior company direction: even prior to the passage of Prop. 64 in 2016, the California Department of Conservation—the agency charged with administering the Williamson Act at the condition level—issued a statement that “nothing in the Williamson Act prohibits the expansion of health care cannabis on land enrolled in the Williamson Act.” In fact, SB-527 states that it is not basically shifting existing regulation, but as an alternative is merely declarative.

Interestingly, SB-527 does not differentiate in between out of doors cultivation and indoor cultivation, so it is unclear whether design of indoor or combined gentle structures this kind of as greenhouses would now qualify as agricultural “compatible uses” beneath the Williamson Act.

Time will tell whether SB-527 gets regulation, but it does stand at the very least a battling prospect, having passed in committee five-one on the initial looking at.


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