Workshop focuses on environmentally friendly cannabis cultivation | TheUnion.com

Workshop focuses on environmentally friendly cannabis cultivation

Stephen Roberson
Staff Writer

We should learn from the mistakes of the Gold Rush.

That was South Yuba River Citizens League Executive Director Caleb Dardick's thoughts with regard to the booming marijuana cultivation industry.

On Sunday, the organization hosted the third annual Growing Green for the Yuba at the Condon Park Love Building. The free all-day workshop focused on environmentally friendly and sustainable cannabis growth.

"Let's not have the destruction from the latest green rush have the same type of lasting impact we have 150 years later from the gold rush," Dardick said. "Can you imagine if we had properly regulated gold mining and timber harvesting back in the 1800s. We might still have a sustainable industry in both of those sectors."

Workshop topics included state regulations and compliance, legal issues, soil and water care, and advice on how to build a grow site to minimize its environmental impact.

"I think the fact that there are brand new regulations that just came out of the state on Friday is exciting," said Rachel Hutchingson, the group's river science director. "I think everyone is still grappling with how to deal with that. I think it's really important to read through those and comment on those draft regulations so that their voice is heard and we get the best possible outcome for the environment and the industry, because it is such an important industry to Nevada County."

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KEEPING UP

Jonathan Collier, an executive board member on the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, said workshops like Sunday's help growers stay ahead of the curve and adapt to a rapidly changing regulatory system.

He specifically pointed out the question-and-answer session with Trey Sherrell, a former member of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board.

"It's really important as we move toward regulation to see what's coming and how we can prepare, even though in some instances we can't prepare," he said. "The water board won't accept any permit applications currently because our county doesn't have that specified. However, what Trey was saying is there are still things you can do."

Attorney Heather Burke said the ever-changing landscape surrounding marijuana cultivation makes it impossible to keep up with rules and regulations, making workshops like this vital.

Burke, along with attorneys Stephen Munkelt and Jennifer Granger, served on a legal panel just after lunch.

"The rules are so complex that nobody really knows them all," she said. "That's anybody from an environmental regulator such as a water board to judges and juries, all the way up. People are trying to figure it out new. The rules are coming out at breakneck speed."

MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME

About 40 people attended the workshop. While some from the South Yuba River Citizens League said they were happy with the turnout, longtime grower Shelly Salvatore was disappointed.

The biggest problem, she said, is most of those in attendance are highly educated on the topics. Those who need the education, she said, are the ones who didn't show.

"I have put the word out to many of my friends to come and learn about growing green, even though a lot of us in the county are already growing green," she said. "But I always feel like I should come to these because I might learn something new. It's really important to me as a cannabis grower, and vegetable grower and herb grower — a small-time farmer — that we all learn how to do everything really green and clean."

To contact Staff Writer Stephen Roberson, email sroberson@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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