RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. — The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved several amendments to the Industrial Hemp Operations Ordinance enacted in 2020, ending litigation initiated by the Riverside County Farm Bureau stemming from “nuisance odors” and other conflicts with traditional agricultural culture.
“There have been a lot of disputes, but you have all worked very hard to resolve the issues and allow this product to be grown,” board chairman Jeff Hewitt told a Farm Bureau representative. .
The board voted 4-0 — with Supervisor Chuck Washington absent — to accept and add amendments to Order No. 348 stemming from settlement negotiations between the Farm Bureau and county prosecutors in February.
The county’s planning commission had recommended that council adopt the changes at its March 23 meeting.
The Industrial Hemp Operations Ordinance will now include provisions that specify the need for odor control at cultivation sites and that water regulators approve all on-site service requirements before cultivation operations begin. hemp.
The odor control component cites the need to minimize “nuisance odors” to prevent them “from significantly interfering with offsite land uses,” according to the review.
The amendment is largely aimed at indoor growing, requiring filtration systems that contain emissions.
With respect to the water availability element related to the settlement agreement, the new provision would reinforce the old one, specifying that water suppliers issue a “will serve” letter establishing that sufficient supplies are available to support a hemp crop. The county’s Department of Environmental Health should further determine whether wells dug into cultivation sites meet quality control standards.
No other significant changes have been proposed to the existing ordinance, which expressly prohibits the cultivation of hemp – indoors or outdoors – in large tracts of the Santa Margarita River watershed, extending approximately from De Luz, just west of Temecula, east of Anza, south to the San Diego County Limit and north to Diamond Valley Lake near Hemet.
The space encompasses portions of the Eastern and Western Municipal Water Districts, as well as the entire Rancho California Water District. However, there are several pockets dug and permitted for cultivation, as long as permit applicants have easy access to a well or obtain guarantees from water suppliers that they will receive sufficient flow to sustain their growth.
When the ordinance was enacted in November 2020, the Transport and Land Management Agency said there were around 125 growers with permits.
Registration and licensing is handled by TLMA with the following requirements:
— indoor and outdoor hemp cultivation must be a minimum of 1,000 feet from all schools, daycares, public parks and youth centres;
— all crops must be at least 300 feet from any property in a zoned residential location;
— all indoor grow sites must rely on 20% renewable energy for production; and
— all sites must have water conservation and harvesting mechanisms in place to “minimize water use where possible”.
Crop sizes can range from five to over 160 acres, depending on where they are located.
The main difference between hemp and untampered marijuana is the tetrahydrocannabinol – or THC – content. Hemp leaves contain about three-tenths of 1% of the compounds found in cannabis leaves, according to the County Council Office.
Proponents of hemp production and research claim that its properties have proven benefits in treating certain skin and heart conditions. It is also used in clothing and other commercial applications.
Unlike cannabis, hemp is not federally designated as a controlled substance and production is permitted on Native American lands, under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians began allowing hemp cultivation near Mountain Center in January 2020.
The ordinance imposes limitations on hours of operation to reduce noise, and hemp production is not permitted to be associated with cannabis cultivation. To date, the board has not licensed any commercial marijuana farms in an unincorporated area.