Nevada County growers must go through permitting process for their indoor grow |

Nevada County growers must go through permitting process for their indoor grow

Greenhouses are allowed under Nevada County's marijuana cultivation code, though specific requirements must be met.
Submitted to The Union |

Nevada County residents don’t need to build a separate structure for their indoor medical marijuana grows. The law allows them to use an existing structure like a garage or greenhouse.

Growers must, however, still go through the county’s permitting process, regardless of whether the grow space is newly constructed or already there.

The county’s Building Department has received plenty of questions, though no one has yet submitted a request for a medical marijuana cultivation building permit, said Craig Griesbach, the county’s building director.

“Tons of questions every week,” Griesbach said.

According to Griesbach, the permitting process for an indoor marijuana grow is similar to that of any other structure. Growers should submit their plans to Griesbach’s office for review, ensuring it meets the state’s requirements and complies with the county’s ordinance. A permit would be issued and Griesbach’s office then would follow up with an inspection.

“It’s treated like any other house,” Griesbach added.

The Building Department has a checklist of requirements for those who want to grow cannabis indoors. It notes that the grower must be a qualified patient or primary caregiver, requirements that are listed on the June 7 Measure W ballot question.

The grower also must show the locations of all back flow prevention devices at water connections, electrical load calculations and all spots where lighting will be affixed. The total lighting amount can’t exceed 1,200 watts.

Permitting costs depend on the amount of time it takes Griesbach’s office to process the permit and inspect the property. He estimated a greenhouse that included some electrical work would cost about $600.

Greenhouses are allowed under the existing supervisor- imposed ban and Measure W, if it passes on June 7. They can even have a solid dirt floor — no concrete flooring required — though it must meet the county’s enclosure and security requirements.

Buildings used for indoor grows must have a roof supported by connecting walls. It must be secured by doors that can be locked. Greenhouses also must have obscure glass, polycarbonate panels or have a solid fence that screens view from the outside.

Eric Brandstad, general manager of Forever Flowering Greenhouses in Grass Valley, said rigid polycarbonate is preferred. Clear glass allows in too much sun during the summer.

The polycarbonate also provides a shield from outside eyes.

“You couldn’t tell if it’s spinach, kale, lettuce or what,” Brandstad said.

Brandstad’s business completes site specific engineering work for customers before selling them greenhouses. He wants to ensure each project can work before selling the structure.

The engineering costs $2,700. The greenhouses themselves can go for $1.50 to $2 a square foot to $29 per square foot. The latter would be for a complex, automated greenhouse, Brandstad said.

Location also affects price. A greenhouse in Truckee would cost more because it must be able to handle a heavy snow load, as opposed to a greenhouse in South County.

Variables like that lead Griesbach to urge preparation.

“Just be prepared for what all your questions are,” he said. “If there’s something you want to do, ask us.”

The Building Department is in the Eric Rood Administrative Center, 950 Maidu Ave., Nevada City. Its phone number is 530-265-1222.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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