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California Legislature

Lawmakers say California's proposed marijuana rules will hurt small family farms

Sustainable cannabis farmer Dillon Turner applies fertilizer to a crop of plants at Sunboldt Farms  in Redcrest, Calif. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sustainable cannabis farmer Dillon Turner applies fertilizer to a crop of plants at Sunboldt Farms in Redcrest, Calif. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Two legislators called Tuesday for changes to regulations for growing marijuana in California to better protect small family farmers from being driven out of business by big corporate cultivators.

Initial proposals to cap licensed marijuana farms at one to four acres were discarded by the state Department of Food and Agriculture, which has since proposed new rules without any cap, according to a letter of complaint to the agency by State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-San Rafael) and Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). McGuire and Wood support a one-acre cap.

 “We support the protection of small family cannabis farmers — the backbone of California’s cannabis industry — and are deeply concerned that a lack of a cap on small cannabis cultivation permits is undermining the desires of California voters expressed through Proposition 64,” the two lawmakers wrote, referring to the initiative approved by voters last year to legalize recreational marijuana.

The legislators noted many of the small-farm operators are second- or third-generation farmers along the North Coast.

“This last minute revision rolls out the red carpet for large corporations to crush the livelihood of small family farmers who should be given a fair chance to succeed in a regulated market,” said the letter to Richard Parrott, director of the Food and Agriculture Department’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division. 

Representatives for Parrott were not immediately available to comment on the requested change.

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