“If you can’t cultivate here, you can’t cultivate anywhere in Sonoma County,” said Magruder.
Sonoma County now anticipates revenue from cannabis taxes and business permits will fall $1.8 million short of initial expectations in the fiscal year that ends June 30, because so few growers have registered to produce pot legally.
Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said the county’s requirements for cannabis cultivation are “onerous,” covering everything from sensitive ecosystems to security — measures required of no other agricultural activity. Legal marijuana growers will be the first agricultural group in Sonoma County required to meter and track groundwater use.
Linegar said the footprint of cannabis will be “tiny.” If every application currently with the county is approved, which is unlikely, the cannabis growing operations would cover about 40 acres. By comparison, Sonoma County’s $590 million wine grape crop covers more than 60,000 acres.
“You can plant 100 acres of potatoes and you need no permit, no permit whatsoever,” Linegar said. “I acknowledge and understand the issues around public safety and security — those have to be addressed. To me those