Marijuana group members look back on panel’s work | TheUnion.com

Marijuana group members look back on panel’s work

The cannabis consultant for Nevada County assured the crowd the process to write a new marijuana ordinance wasn't over.

It's just the stage involving a citizen's advisory panel that's ended.

The 16-member community advisory group met for the last time on Tuesday. Meeting nine times over several months, the panel gathered information as they worked toward developing recommendations for an ordinance the Board of Supervisors has said it wants in place by March.

Forrest Hurd, a medicinal cannabis advocate and member of the community group, said the process didn't proceed as he envisioned, though he said he's optimistic about changes he's seen in the county.

"It was a little more shepherded than I thought it would be," Hurd said. "I think there were some misconceptions going into it that might have been on my end."

Hurd started the process thinking the group would draft recommendations for supervisors. Instead MIG, Inc. — the cannabis consultant — is expected to take the panel's input and craft recommendations along with a report that county staff wants in supervisor hands by January.

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Hurd would have preferred more discussion and questioning among the panelists, which he said would have led to consensus on the recommendations.

"I don't think our time was used as efficiently as it could have been," he said.

Mark Schaefer, another panelist and member of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance's executive committee, said he's pleased with how the process played out. Schaefer wanted the group to help educate the community about cannabis and destroy stereotypes about the grow community — goals he said were achieved.

"I think it did move many of the CAG members out of the prohibition mentality," he said.

Schaefer said he wants the advisory group to meet again once county staff have written the recommendations, a wish expressed by several panelists at their Tuesday meeting.

Sean Powers, director of the county's Community Development Agency, said Tuesday he didn't yet know if that would happen. He intends to review information gained from the group with MIG before a decision on another meeting is made.

"Definitely when we take this to the (Board of Supervisors), the CAG is highly encouraged to participate," Powers said.

Lee French, also an advisory panel member, intends to stay involved in the process by attending supervisor meetings that focus on the ordinance.

French, who noted he sees a place for medicinal marijuana, has problems with how he said some people have misused Proposition 215 — the voter initiative that legalized medicinal pot.

According to French, some growers have used Prop 215 to shield large grows. Some of them now want Nevada County to craft an ordinance legalizing those grows.

French made the same argument in his final statement at Tuesday's meeting.

Seemingly at odds with cannabis supporters, French echoed some of Hurd's concerns about the citizen's group. He believes the county made the right move in forming the group, though he said not all members liked the survey questions MIG posed as a method to gain input.

"We needed discussion," French said.

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