Update: Kiva has re-opened
On March 24 the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors voted to ban the cultivation of medicinal marijuana for commercial grows, elating some and bumming out others. The 3-5 decision took effect on March 30, but patients and caregivers may still grow 10 by 10 square feet for personal use—the largest allotment in the state.
Similar measures have been passed in other weed-friendly counties, such as Butte and Shasta, forcing commercial and industrial growers—legal or otherwise—to find safer havens. In the last six months, the number of known illegal sites in Santa Cruz County rose 58 percent, with unintended consequences. According to an op-ed piece in the Sentinel by Santa Cruz Supervisor Bruce McPherson—who voted for the ban—“neighboring residents were impacted by smells, generator noise, bright growing lights, traffic and crime.”
However, with potential state legalization measures already in the works for the 2016 ballot, many question whether the county’s decision is more reactionary than progressive.
“With potential legalization, if we don’t provide a way for the crop to be grown—ideally agricultural districts with appropriate setbacks—we’ll just be pushing ourselves back to even more illegal grows,” says Supervisor Ryan Coonerty, who voted against the ban along with Supervisor John Leopold. “We all agreed there was a problem [under the old ordinance], there was just a little disagreement on how to fix that problem.”
“The outright ban on the cultivation of commercial grows puts a lot of people on the wrong side of the law, people who have invested a lot of time and energy into their community and who have otherwise been completely compliant,” says Bryce Berryessa of the Association for Standardized Cannabis. “Having only 10 by 10 square feet to operate restricts the availability to have a robust and bio-diverse stockpile of medicine in the county.”
Cannabis proponents hope to continue working with the Board of Supervisors to lift the ban and implement more inclusive, regulated laws—a view that is shared with Supervisor Coonerty.
“I hope we continue to discuss it. [With potential legalization] we’re still going to have commercial and personal growers that impact rural neighborhoods. So, I hope we do and I hope we do it properly,” says Coonerty. MW
The 25-year-old Kiva Retreat House—a luxurious Santa Cruz resort with communal clothing-optional hot tubs, massage rooms, and a large kiva (sauna) set within mystical zen gardens and surrounded by a high fence—bit the dust April 4, despite staff attempts to save it from financial pitfalls by working for free, according to massage therapist Sandra Overton, who has worked there 18 years.
“I’m devastated. It’s rocking my world. A big chunk of my finances are gone,” Overton says.
Ani DiFranco visited Kiva after shows at the Catalyst. Linus Torvald, the inventor of Linux, chose to be interviewed by the San Jose Mercury News in its authentic sauna put together without nails.
A decade ago the retreat fought off a steakhouse that attempted to build next door. We’ll follow this story as more information becomes available. But first, a soak. BK