Humboldt County, Calif., Bans Industrial Hemp Production
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Humboldt County, Calif., Bans Industrial Hemp Production

The ban turns a temporary moratorium into permanent policy in one of the world's most well-known cannabis cultivation markets.

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February 16, 2021

After continually kicking a temporary moratorium down the road for the past few years, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors decided last week to permanently ban industrial hemp cultivation. It’s a policy move notable mostly for the backdrop of cannabis cultivation in the county, part of California’s Emerald Triangle and a legendary source for THC-rich crops and back-to-the-land cultural dynamics.

All that being said, the board gave itself an opportunity down the line to revisit the ban. The move came to the board via the Humboldt County Planning Commission, which signaled support for a long-running ban in January. The College of the Redwoods in Eureka, Calif., will be granted an exception “for research and educational purposes.” (Note: The ban applies to unincorporated parts of the county, allowing room for individual municipalities to shape their own policy,)

As the Lost Coast Outpost reports, much of the public comment on this ban came from licensed cannabis market—from growers who supported the ban. “Some pointed out that if people really want to grow hemp,” according to the paper, “they can take advantage of the county’s streamlined application process for grows of less than 2,000 square feet (smaller than the threshold for industrial-scale) or grow within the “personal use” limits of 100 square feet on parcels smaller than an acre; up to 200 square feet on parcels of one to five acres; and up to 400 square feet on parcels larger than that.” 

Industrial hemp cultivation, alongside THC-rich cannabis production, does pose the risk of cross-pollination. Cannabis experts Robert C. Clarke and Mojave Richmond have cited a 10-mile radius as a good starting point to separate THC-rich cannabis from nearby hemp fields. “Safe distances should be increased to up to 30 miles or more if the pollen source is a broadacre grain seed field or if seedless crops are established down wind of seeded crops,” they wrote in an earlier issue of Hemp Grower