Nevada City forum focuses on future of marijuana | TheUnion.com

Nevada City forum focuses on future of marijuana

The land in an Oregon county cost $200,000. Then that county developed marijuana grow regulations and the price jumped about a week later to over $1 million.

Phil Northcutt, who buys, sells and leases land for cannabis cultivation, saw another piece of land climb to $880,000 from $125,000 once county leaders began issuing permits.

Driving one day in Southern California, Northcutt inquired about the area's property prices.

"Everything had been escrowed or sold," he said.

Northcutt, along with other panelists at a Monday cannabis forum at the Nevada Theatre, spoke about California's changing cannabis landscape. Northcutt said that land speculation happens in areas that have created marijuana grow regulations.

Andrew Wilson, a semi-retired attorney, argued any inflated land prices would change as more counties implement grow rules.

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"When Nevada County figures out what it's going to do, that's going to affect Sacramento County," Wilson said.

Heather Burke, a Nevada City attorney, said the anticipated spike in land prices would mirror the dot com boom of the 1990s. Those high property prices would affect low income residents, a problem the community could address by keeping land sales local and donating to homeless nonprofits.

Switching to the new presidential administration, Burke said it's unknown how U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions — tapped by President Donald Trump to become attorney general — would address medicinal and recreational cannabis.

"This is a really dire circumstance, if the feds bring the heavy hammer back down," Burke said.

Agreeing with Burke, attorney Sam Berns said that it's unknown what Sessions would do. He surmised an attack against medical and recreational cannabis by federal prosecutors would cause the government problems.

Forrest Hurd, whose son uses medicinal cannabis, argued the conversation currently focuses on "if" medicine should reach patients. He said the question should change to "how."

Hurd asked the crowd of some 100 people to set aside their ideas about cannabis.

"Cannabis is a plant," Hurd said. "What we do to it is humans interacting with it.

"If we make it about money, that's something we did," he added.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.