Hemp moratorium lifted in Contra Costa County

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By Ian Firstenberg

(CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif.) The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors lifted the county's moratorium on industrial hemp cultivation Tuesday and created an ordinance that establishes cultivation standards and permitting processes.

According to the new ordinance, permits may only be issued for cultivation in an agricultural district located in East Contra Costa Irrigation District, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, or the East Contra Costa Groundwater Subbasin, all areas where the water level is stable.

Additionally, the ordinance establishes various requirements for indoor and outdoor cultivation. Similarly, land use permits will be valid for five years and can be renewed if the permit holder doesn't violate any of the conditions. Renewed permits would be valid until revoked.

The existing moratorium, set to expire Sept. 30, pitted possible cultivators against county residents staunchly opposed to cultivation over water concerns. The moratorium was established in Nov. 2020 after some people living near grow sites in east county complained about the smell and excessive light.

In late March of this year, Diablo Valley Farms in Brentwood was cleared to cultivate hemp on their property despite water concerns from some residents.

According to Patch, the ordinance doesn't allow cultivation inside or within one mile of the county urban limit lines. The minimum lot size for hemp cultivation in Contra Costa County would be five acres.

Commercial hemp growing was initially legalized in Contra Costa County in 2018, when a group of five growers were first permitted.

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