In an emergency ordinance intended to protect public health, Moorpark City Council unanimously approved a temporary ban on the cultivation, manufacturing, storage and processing of industrial hemp, essentially banning pot shops and any development or planting of hemp within the city limits, according to a Moorpark Acorn report.

At its Dec. 18 meeting, the local governing body voted unanimously to place a 45-day moratorium on hemp and cannabidiols, and would prevent businesses from selling hemp products when sale of such product make up for more than 5 percent of total sales.

While this ordinance blocks industrial hemp manufacturing, the incidental sale of hemp products such as clothing made from hemp, rope and construction products are exempt.

Concerns in the city grew this fall following the passage of the 2018 federal Farm Bill, which separated hemp from marijuana and defined hemp as an agricultural commodity. The bill allowed the crop to be grown legally by farmers who apply for a license, pay a fee and ensure their crops have less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive marijuana chemical THC.

In 2019, Ventura County permitted 47 registrants to grow 3,600 acres of hemp on 110 sites, including Tierra Rejada Valley, located less than a half mile from Moorpark’s city limits, which has imported the hemp crop’s odor into the homes of residents within the Peach Hill, Mountain Meadows and Serenata neighborhoods.

The City Council’s decision comes in the aftermath of the maturation of the crop planted in 2018 when hundreds of people called or wrote letters to the city and to the Ventura County Board of Supervisors asking them to place restrictions on the crop due to health and quality of life concerns.

Such issues as odor, air quality, sickness and property values were evoked, according to City Manager Troy Brown. City staff also expressed concerns that the CBD market includes products that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Later this month, Moorpark City Council may extend the ban for another 10.5 months before determining whether or not to place permanent regulations on the crop.