Environmental report of Humboldt County cannabis industry expansion open for public review

A environmental review of Humboldt County’s proposed expansion of its cannabis market released Thursday found that the changes will cause significant unavoidable impacts, including air pollution, exposure of odors, availability of water supplies and infrastructure needs.

The county is seeking to address these impacts by requiring cannabis business operators to show proof there is adequate water available to serve their site, and by prohibiting cultivators and processors from burning excess plant material.

The report, drafted by the Sacramento-based consulting firm Ascent Environmental, includes five options the county might choose to reduce these impacts when considering how to expand the cannabis market.

These options range from issuing no new permits to prohibiting certain types of cultivation.

The county is proposing to:

• allow both medical and nonmedical cannabis businesses;

• expand areas where marijuana cultivation can occur;

• reduce conflicts with local communities;

• allow new types of cannabis-related businesses, such as tourism and so-called bud-and-breakfasts, to open.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to make a final vote on the proposed changes in December, according to county Planning and Building Director John Ford.

Members of the public have been able to weigh in on the report’s findings since Sept. 1 — though the county’s announcement of the EIR was only issued Thursday — and will be able to submit comments until 5 p.m. on Oct. 16.

The county is asking all comments to be sent to Senior Planner Steve Lazar at the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department located at 3015 H St. in Eureka. Comments can also be sent by email to Lazar at slazar@co.humboldt.ca.us

The county planning commission also is set to hold a meeting on the environmental review Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Board of Supervisors Chambers on the first floor of the Humboldt County Courthouse at 825 Fifth St. in Eureka.

The planning commission held the first of two meetings on the county’s proposed cannabis regulations Thursday evening and is set to hold another meeting at the Board of Supervisors Chambers on Sept. 21 at 5 p.m.

The full environmental report and the proposed cannabis regulations can be found online at http://www.humboldtgov.org/2308/Cannabis-EIR. Print copies of the environmental report and cannabis regulations are available for review at the Humboldt County Library in Eureka at 1313 Third St. or at the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department.

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504.

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