Former members of Nevada County cannabis panel give feedback | TheUnion.com

Former members of Nevada County cannabis panel give feedback

A massive crowd packed the chambers of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, waiting to see what shape a new marijuana ordinance would take.

Those who'd hoped to have a commercial recreational grow likely were disappointed, as were those who wanted to see a complete outdoor ban in quasi-residential areas. Supervisors on Tuesday told county staff to write a draft ordinance allowing commercial medical grows. Additionally, they instructed staff to allow up to six plants outdoors for personal use in more rural zones.

Jonathan Collier — on the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance's executive board and a member of the now-disbanded community advisory group, the latter of which created recommendations for the ordinance — said supervisors had to start somewhere.

"A lot of people are going to be unhappy," Collier said. "At the same time, we're not going to get everything we want."

Collier said his organization prioritizes commercial grows, because they typically create the most impacts. He'd have liked recreational — or adult-use — grows allowed, because they'd provide a larger marketplace for cultivators. He fears some growers might opt to send their product to the black market without a broader marketplace.

"This is just historically what we've seen," Collier said. "It goes where we don't want it to go."

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Supervisors said they'd like the ordinance in place by May 1, an urgency Collier said he appreciates.

Forrest Hurd, also a former community advisory board member and advocate for medicinal cannabis, said the only difference between a commercial medicinal grow and an adult-use one is a designation on the cultivation license.

"The only difference is an 'M' or an 'A' on the permit," Hurd said. "Really, it's about what happens to the cannabis after it's cultivated."

Hurd said economics and the free market will determine how much product is grown in Nevada County.

"I'm really happy to see some of the steps they took," he added. "I'm optimistic, but we have a really long way to go to make it work."

Tom Cross, who served with Collier and Hurd on the advisory panel, said he agreed with the supervisors' decision to take small steps in approaching the issue. However, he advised supervisors to start examining the creation of a supply chain — which includes manufacturing, distribution and transportation.

"I think they'd be wise to at least start studying it," he added. "Cultivation is literally only the first step in the supply chain."

Cross said he wished supervisors had addressed the issue of enforcement by allocating significant dollars to the task.

"I would have felt so much better," he said.

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