Hemp was certainly on the minds of Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors last week when they met for a public hearing on a draft proposal to open the county to hemp cultivation.

In the 1777 publication entitled Observations on the Raising and Dressing of Hemp, author Edward Antill states: “Hemp is one of the most profitable productions the earth furnishes in northern climates … It becomes worthy of the serious attention of the different legislatures of the northern colonies, of every trading man, and of every man, who truly loves his country.”

Hemp was certainly on the minds of Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors last week when they met for a public hearing on a draft proposal to open the county to hemp cultivation. Up for discussion was an ordinance adding Chapter 16 to Title 10 of the Siskiyou County Code for Industrial Hemp Cultivation. The hours-long hearing ended with the proposal being sent back to the Planning Department for revisions.

The cultivation of hemp in America is as old as the country itself and was a major cash crop for farmers until it was banned in 1937 with the passing of the Marihuana Tax Act. It was not until the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill that decades of prohibition were lifted, paving the way for the re-introduction of the crop to U.S. farmers. As the State of California finalizes state rules on hemp cultivation, the county is drafting its own rules in hopes of allowing farmers who meet the criteria to try their hand at growing the plant this year.

The public reading allowed for public input and discussion about the different aspects of the proposal. The draft proposal, created by the Siskiyou Planning Department at the request of the Board of Supervisors, outlines a number of rules including: a 40-acre minimum lot size for cultivation, AG-1 or AG-2 zoning, 1,000-foot setbacks from residential zones and other gathering places such as churches and daycares, spot testing of fields, abatement measures for non-compliance, and compliance with county and state ordinances involving riparian setbacks. A ban on indoor cultivation, except for clones and seedlings, and random inspections by the County Agriculture Commissioner are also included in the draft. Furthermore, the county will collect an application fee of at least $900, plus additional fees to be set by the state, to fund the administration of the program.

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