Humboldt County lawsuit aims to derail restrictive marijuana business measure

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A group of small marijuana farmers and a trade group in Northern California have filed a lawsuit seeking to remove a March ballot initiative  that would significantly restrict cultivation in Humboldt County.

The lawsuit against Humboldt County Registrar of Voters and County Clerk Juan Cervantes – filed by seven farmers and the Humboldt County Growers Alliance – alleges ballot organizers utilized false and misleading information to secure the required number of signatures for the March 5 ballot and failed to include the full text of the initiative as required by law.

Humboldt County, part of California’s famed Emerald Triangle, is one of the nation’s most fertile agricultural regions.

“If the signature-gathering efforts for Measure A were truthful, this initiative never would have made it to the ballot,” Humboldt County Growers Alliance Executive Director Natalynne DeLapp said in a statement published by the North Coast Journal.

“Claiming to protect small cannabis farmers and public participation, while in fact targeting small cannabis farmers with a panoply of new restrictions and locking broken policy in place permanently, is exactly the subversion of the democratic process that elections laws are designed to prevent.”

Measure A, dubbed the Humboldt Cannabis Reform Initiative, gathered more than 7,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot, according to the North Coast Journal.

Measure A’s long list of business restrictions, according to the Eureka-based news outlet, include:

  • Capping the size of farms at 10,000 square feet, which would make more than 400 licensed farms noncompliant.
  • Requiring public hearings for all grow operations larger than 3,000 square feet.
  • Limiting farm locations on two-way roads that can accommodate speeds of 25-40 mph.
  • Restricting noncompliant farms from expanding, including increasing space, water and energy use or any structures related to cultivation.