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Sonoma County cannabis advisory group begins setting agenda

Sonoma County’s rules for how and where cannabis businesses can operate were codified earlier this year, but the book on local marijuana regulations is far from finished.

Helping the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adjust its local rules is the main job of a 20-person citizen advisory group chosen from cannabis industry players and other interest groups including real estate, agriculture, public health and neighborhoods.

The panel met for the first time Wednesday to start setting an agenda for issues and recommendations to bring before the board.

“We didn’t get it right, we’re still tweaking it,” Supervisor Susan Gorin said of the county’s cannabis ordinance at the start of the meeting.

New state laws and potential glitches or omissions in the local rules have already led local cannabis business leaders to call for the county to make swift changes.

Supervisor Lynda Hopkins acknowledged “what we have right now is a draft” and called the advisory group an “innovation bank” to help the board “understand the impacts of implementation” and make needed changes.

Members began recommending areas of discussion, including:

Ensuring access to medical marijuana products for ailing and low income consumers.

Extension of the Aug. 31 deadline that gives temporary relief from land-use fines and allows certain cannabis businesses to continue operations while the permit applications are being reviewed or for entities that need to find a new location.

Opportunities for operators in areas where the county has banned cannabis cultivation, including rural residential areas where marijuana has been widely grown in the past.

Strategies to protect children from unwanted exposure to cannabis.

Law enforcement’s approach to cleaning up illegal cannabis activity.

The group’s next meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Permit and Resource Management Department’s hearing room, 2550 Ventura Ave., Santa Rosa.

For more information about the Cannabis Advisory group, visit sonomacounty.ca.gov/Cannabis-Advisory-Group.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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