04 Dec Moorpark council to consider interim hemp ban amid complaints; meeting moved to Dec. 18
By Mike Harris
Moorpark officials say dozens of residents have complained to the city about strong odors from industrial hemp farms in the neighboring Tierra Rejada Valley in unincorporated Ventura County.
In response, the Moorpark City Council on Dec. 18 will consider an interim, 45-day moratorium banning the cultivation, manufacturing, testing, storing and certain sales of industrial hemp in the city.
If adopted, the ban would go into effect immediately, and the council would be able to extend it for another 10 months and 15 days at a future meeting.
The proposed moratorium was initially scheduled to be considered at Wednesday night's council meeting, but because only three council members will be in attendance, it was postponed until the Dec. 18 meeting. That's because such an interim ordinance requires four votes to be adopted.
Residents complain about hemp odors
In a report to the council, City Manager Troy Brown, City Attorney Kevin Ennis and Assistant City Attorney Nicholas Ghirelli wrote that many residents of Moorpark's southern neighborhoods have called the city and county over the last several months to complain of "offensive odors from relatively new and large-scale outdoor industrial hemp farms located in the Tierra Rejada Valley located immediately south of the city."
The valley is in unincorporated Ventura County, where hemp crops are allowed. Congress legalized the crop last year.
"Aside from having to experience offensive odors, many of these residents also have complained of headaches, nausea, sore throats and other physical side effects from breathing and smelling the distinctive odor generated by industrial hemp grown to produce CBD oil," Brown and the others wrote.
Adoption of the proposed interim ordinance is necessary to prohibit industrial hemp activities in the city because they may conflict with zoning and municipal code regulations the city may want to adopt over the next several months, the officials wrote.
The moratorium would not ban the sale in Moorpark of Epidiolex, a CBD drug prescribed to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy, they wrote.
Another hemp proposal on agenda
Also on Dec. 18, the council will consider authorizing a letter from Mayor Janice Parvin to be sent to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors and county Agricultural Commissioner Ed Williams, urging them to ban the cultivation of hemp in unincorporated areas, or at least consider a temporary moratorium.
"In addition to health impacts identified by residents, the city has concerns with property values and crime associated with hemp cultivation," the letter states.
The supervisors held a Nov. 19 meeting in the Moorpark City Council's chambers where they heard complaints from angry residents about the strong odors from the Tierra Rejada Valley hemp farms.
The grievances led the supervisors to direct legal counsel to look into whether Williams' office could temporarily stop issuing permits for hemp production without running afoul of state and federal laws.
The Moorpark City Council's Dec. 18 meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the council's City Hall chambers, 799 Moorpark Ave.
The meeting's agenda, including the report on the proposed hemp ban, can be found on the city's website, moorparkca.gov.
Mike Harris covers the East County cities of Moorpark, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks, as well as transportation countywide. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-437-0323.