Hemet Council extends hemp cultivation moratorium

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The Hemet City Council extended the moratorium on hemp cultivation in the city and approved the purchase of 72 new police radios for the Hemet Police Department at its Tuesday, Sept. 10, meeting.

The council’s concern that hemp, that looks almost the same as cannabis or marijuana plants, might be cultivated in the same fields, creating the need for testing each crop to determine the degree of the mind-altering degree of THC. While hemp is used for many legal industrial uses, like burlap bags, clothing items, rope and some external medicinal balms, it does still have some THC – short for tetrahydrocannabinol – in it. Without proper testing there is no way to determine its level of THC that should be below 20% before it becomes potent like cannabis. Cannabis, once grown, has THC levels of 25% percent or above, which is considered mind-altering.

At the council’s Aug. 13 meeting, City Manager Christopner Lopez, urged the council to pass an urgency 45-day moratorium on hemp cultivation because, “There are no permanent and adequate California or federal regulations setting requirements or standards for cultivation, product purity, safety, potency and testing cannabinoid content or environmental impacts or other safeguards to protect the health of consumers within the California regulated cannabis marketplace.”

That urgency ordinance was passed.

The council decided Sept. 10, after hearing that it was within their legal rights by City Attorney Eric Vail, to extend the hemp cultivation moratorium until Aug. 12, 2020. The council earlier found that the county has registered but not formally approved two hemp cultivation sites within the city’s sphere of influence which raised their concerns that more might seek registration within the city. The city has strict ordinances concerning marijuana cultivation and does not permit dispensaries or testing labs.

Other Inland Empire cities have also extended moratoriums on hemp cultivation because of the same concerns.

Hemet police Chief Robert Webb was granted his request by the council for the purchase of 72 new police radios for $369,533. He said the Panasonic tablet and laptop computers with Windows 10 and all the related software will replace the city’s aging and soon-to-be-unsupported Microsoft Windows 7 computers the department now uses.

“These are more versatile and are portable so officers can take them from their cars to the office or homes to complete their reports,” Webb said. “Without them law enforcement security will be threatened.”

He said the cost of the new computers and hardware will partially be offset by grants and special programs available to city police forces.

The council approved the purchase 5-0.

Earlier in the meeting Joe Mouawad, Eastern Municipal Water District assistant general manager, and Kevin Pearson, EMWD public affairs officer, presented the council with the district’s plans to improve the area’s groundwater banking with settling ponds and filtration stations at a location in land northwest of Esplanade and the Ramona Expressway in San Jacinto.

The $14 million project includes building a pipeline to bring in northern California water from the state water project to the site. The 60-inch pipeline will be constructed from Warren Road east on Esplanade Road to Sanderson Avenue to the EMWD facilities and up to the ponds in San Jacinto. They said the district is working with San Jacinto to purchase the rights of way needed for the pipeline and facilities.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at tault@reedermedia.com.