Dispensary workshop packs City Hall | TheUnion.com

Dispensary workshop packs City Hall

A special Planning Commission workshop on a proposed medical marijuana dispensary ordinance filled Nevada City Hall Thursday evening, with proponents for a potential dispensary and those staunchly opposed to the notion.

The standing-room-only crowd listed its greatest concerns in the areas of land use and location, law enforcement and security, operational requirements and the permitting and selection process.

The criteria that seemed to have the most heated exchange of opinions dealt with the land use and location.

Some wanted to see the proposed land use requirements opened to areas other than just light industrial, as has been potentially proposed. Others wanted to see distance requirements from schools and churches increased from 600 feet to 1,200 feet. Some of those opposed wanted to see a potential dispensary location 1,200 feet away from any homes, essentially not providing for any allowable area within the city for a dispensary.

"We need to keep it from schools and churches yes, but we have to have open access to patients; that is what we need," Nevada County resident Daniel Batchelor said during the meeting.

Batchelor could be heard during the meeting defending his views against those adamantly opposed to any dispensary option.

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"The people that need the medicine live in those houses," he said.

"The opiates use in this county is off the charts," Nevada City Homeowner Ryan Love said, who sees cannabis use a much more desirable substance than opiates.

Jonathan Collier, an executive board member of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, said Thursday's workshop was an inclusive process and that he liked to see the input from the community.

"It will be interesting to see how they compile the repetitive info," Collier said.

One of the biggest issues Collier saw expressed during the meeting had to deal with allowing more than just one dispensary to avoid a potential monopolization and price fixing. He also noted the city should consider allowing dispensaries in areas other than just a light industrially zoned area, though he still saw the importance to honor setbacks from the downtown and schools.

Consulting attorney Crystal Hodgson noted those who were opposed to any sort of cannabis ordinance felt that they had no voice to oppose the potential for a dispensary during Thursday's workshop.

For City Planner Amy Wolfson, the next steps include compiling the data received from the community and writing it into some form that the Planning Commission can use. While she hopes to have the data compiled for the commission for a January meeting, she said she will have an update on the dispensary issue during the commission's Dec. 15 meeting.

To contact Staff Writer Elias Funez email efunez@theunion.com, or call 530-477-4230.

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