First Cannabis Farm Granted Permit to Grow in Sonoma County

On Monday, a growing operation received the first one-acre, conditional-use permit for cannabis cultivation in Sonoma County, the northern California hotbed for Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot Noir.

The operation will be overseen by a grow team known as Petaluma Hills Farm, but the entire property—which will be located in a part of Sonoma County called the Petaluma Gap—will operate under the title Sonoma Hills Farm.

Sam Magruder, a partner in Petaluma Hills Farm, hailed the permit as a milestone.

“This permit, and pending cultivation permits, demonstrates a huge step forward for California cannabis cultivators, wine country, and artisanal cannabis grows throughout the country,” Magruder said. “We are ushering in a new era that will allow small farmers of fine cannabis to equally participate, and ideally thrive, in Sonoma County.”

The news comes only about a month after Sonoma County inspectors shut down what was described as the largest non-permitted commercial cannabis cultivation in the county’s history, an operation that had more than 63,000 plants. As of last month, the county had reportedly responded to nearly 200 complaints of non-permitted cannabis activities.

Wine Country Going Green

Sonoma Hills Farm has lofty aspirations for its own licensed operation, saying in a press release this week that it “strives to be a cultural and educational intersection of cannabis and traditional agriculture.”

The company said it has already received assistance from permaculturists and Michelin-starred chefs in “designing a one-acre chef garden and fruit orchard to fully integrate the natural ecosystems of the occupied land.”

The operation will be located on 40-acres of farmland, with the cannabis cultivation concentrated on one acre of land split between two locations on the property: a 28,560 square-foot outdoor cannabis garden farmed with dry farming techniques. Its first harvest is slated for late next year.

The company said the farm is “designed and will be built to exceed expectations for this type of operation, from farming methods and land preservation, to energy and water conservation.”

“As pioneers in legal cannabis, we aspire to be a beacon for the industry, as well as a model for the world for growing finely crafted cannabis in wine country,” Magruder said in the press release. “Much like growing grapes for the finest wines, we plan to take an artisanal approach to cultivation through the cannabis we have been permitted to grow in this incredible terroir.”

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