Nevada County medical marijuana advocates concerned about pot panel | TheUnion.com

Nevada County medical marijuana advocates concerned about pot panel

Local medical marijuana activists fear the county committee that will develop permanent grow regulations will shut them out, leading to restrictive cultivation rules.

Supervisor Hank Weston, however, said a representative from the cannabis community will serve on the committee, which is expected to begin its work early next year.

“Of course someone from the marijuana, either recreational or medical, someone has to be on that panel,” Weston said. “You’ve got to have a cross-section.”

County staff, along with Weston, currently is forming the process the committee will use. The Board of Supervisors must approve that process before the committee can begin its work, hearing from various stakeholder groups and forming recommendations for a new, permanent grow ordinance.

Weston hopes the board could vote on the process in February. It’s unknown how long it would take to speak to the groups and return to the board with its recommendations.

“Considering how many various groups want to speak and be heard, I don’t know how long it would take,” Weston said.

Forrest Hurd, who emerged during the Measure W campaign earlier this year as a local leader for medicinal cannabis, wants to serve on the committee. He volunteered, but wasn’t offered a spot, he said.

Hurd, whose son has intractable epilepsy and uses medical cannabis, said he’s concerned there’s no other local advocate with the proper knowledge.

“This is such a complex and new area of expertise,” Hurd added. “I’m just skeptical because I don’t know anyone else in the county who knows this as well.”

Patricia Smith, chairwoman of the local chapter of Americans for Safe Access, said half of the committee should support medical marijuana. She worries the panel would recommend poor regulations without the knowledge medical cannabis advocates would bring.

Weston said the committee, once formed, would hear from different stakeholders throughout the process. He suggested those groups could speak to the committee, though no public comment would occur.

Public comment would happen at Board of Supervisors’ meetings.

“The people have spoken loud and clear in this county,” Smith said, referring to the defeat of Measure W and support for Proposition 64. “I just hope we can have a fair, open and transparent process that moves us forward.”

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