SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — It’s been one week since Santa Cruz County launched an online cannabis registry and already some marijuana growers have issues with the process.
An online registration process for cannabis cultivation is the first step. In another year, growers are required to apply for a cultivation license.
So far, 31 accounts are open and packets have been downloaded but no one has completed the application process yet.
Some cannabis cultivators KSBW spoke with don’t have an issue registering with the county or with the $3,500 fee to do so, but the paperwork required is lengthy and they have concerns about personal information possibly going public.
“We want to become the model grower for the county. What I’m really concerned about is anybody being able to go to the county building once our permit is issued and look up any of the private information about me, my family, my references, the location or our project. It’s kind of scary,” the anonymous cultivator said.
The cultivator, who did not want to be named, has a marijuana grow in Santa Cruz County.
Santa Cruz County’s online registration for marijuana cultivation contains about 500 questions and many of them are of a personal nature.
“Everything that I’ve done in my past, whether it be illegal or not (is inquired about). Things about my family, references, wanting the home address, work address and phone numbers of my references. Is that needed?” the cultivator said.
Santa Cruz County officials said the information is necessary to verify compliance with regulations.
“So, under the state’s public records act, those are public records. There’s an exception in the public records act for law enforcement licensing, and I think one other thing pertaining to safety and security information submitted as part of a licensing application, this would fall under that exception, so it won’t be disclosed,” Santa Cruz County communications manager Jason Hoppin said.
Cannabis cultivators operating since January 2013 and growers with more than three years’ experience in the commercial agriculture zone have until midnight Nov. 6 to register.
“Some of the questions that are just nonsensical are, ‘Have you ever in the last 10 years gone fishing without a license?’ Have you ever been abusive to an animal in the last 10 years?’ (There is a) question about whether you have ever gone through a divorce. ‘Have you ever declared bankruptcy?’” attorney Ben Rice, who represents many cannabis cultivators, said.
The county said the registration process is a dry run for the actual licensing process, which they don’t anticipate will go into effect for another year.
Since this is the first time the county has dealt with marijuana registration, changes can be expected.
“I understand the backgrounds of the people trying to cultivate but I mean, doing a background should be enough to learn about everybody’s background. You know, are they a good person? Do they have a criminal background? I mean, the most important thing is to have the good players out there,” the anonymous cultivator said.
But Hoppin said it won’t be that easy.
“We want this to be done right. This is not going to be easy. It’s not going to be like getting a driver’s license. It’s not going to be like getting a job application. It’s going to be a thorough process because we are on the vanguard of this right now, and we want to make sure we do it right,” he said.
Since the county has received feedback from cannabis growers, they will not require personal information in the registration process, however, it will be a requirement during the actual licensing process.
As for the newly created Cannabis Licensing Manager position, 120 people applied. Officials narrowed applicants down to a handful and are expecting to hire someone shortly.