Nevada County citizen marijuana group gives final thoughts to supervisors | TheUnion.com

Nevada County citizen marijuana group gives final thoughts to supervisors

Members of Nevada County's marijuana citizen's group on Tuesday alternatively praised or attacked the seven-month process that resulted in the creation of recommendations for a new cannabis grow ordinance.

Those recommendations — including details on zoning, parcel size and license types — were presented for the first time before the Board of Supervisors. The board on Tuesday took no action on the recommendations, instead hearing feedback from the panelists that met 10 times to craft them.

Supervisors will hear more information from county staff at their annual workshop before providing input on Feb. 13 to county counsel, who will write the draft ordinance.

No timeline exists for passage of the new rules.

“Patients deserve safe and affordable access to this medicine. I think there’s a lot of work ahead of us.”

— Panelist Rich Johansen

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Supervisors heard from members of the citizen's panel, some of them questioning the process implemented by MIG, Inc., the county's cannabis consultant.

"I feel that the process was flawed and led to a lot of indecisive frustration," panelist Michael Mastrodonato said. "I believe the recommendations delivered to you today comes from MIG, not the 16-member CAG."

MIG used a series of cannabis-related questions voted upon by panelists to form the recommendations. Mastrodonato said those questions allowed for no back-and-forth conversation between group members.

Don Bessee, another panelist and executive director of the Northern California chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said the questions posed to the citizen's group lacked specifics about personal or medicinal grows.

"It seems that there was a predetermined course here," Bessee said.

Panelist Debra Weistar called the process to make the recommendations imperfect. Forrest Hurd, citizen's group member and medicinal cannabis advocate, agreed. However, he added that if everyone is somewhat unhappy when a process has ended, it likely worked.

A majority of panelists said much more work is needed.

"Patients deserve safe and affordable access to this medicine," panelist Rich Johansen said. "I think there's a lot of work ahead of us."

Panelist Tom Cross again suggested a blue ribbon commission — a smaller group that would continue to work with the county toward a new ordinance — as well as a pilot program for a few growers.

Supervisor Hank Weston questioned if a smaller group would fall under the state's Brown Act, which requires certain governmental bodies to have open meetings. County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green told Weston that if county staff selects a technical team, the Brown Act wouldn't apply.

Supervisor Heidi Hall supported a smaller group, though Supervisor Richard Anderson wondered about that panel's purpose.

No decision was made Tuesday about the panel.

Saying the recommendation process was about mitigating cannabis' issues, Anderson said he wants guidance on how to control those impacts.

"Twenty-five plants indoors will have odor impacts on residents," he added.

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

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