Our View: There are still many chances to speak your mind about cannabis | TheUnion.com

Our View: There are still many chances to speak your mind about cannabis

The Union Editorial Board

It’s high time Nevada County implemented sensible cannabis regulations.

We’re almost there. County officials, growers and those interested in the process have slogged through a series of seemingly endless meetings since the June 2016 failure of Measure W — an initiative that would have banned outdoor grows.

We had a handful of meetings between grow advocates and supervisors. Then came the Community Advisory Group, composed of folks with plenty of opinions. That group spent months to craft recommendations that supervisors used to shape a draft grow ordinance, which now is achingly close to approval.

And through it all there was public comment at meeting after meeting after meeting.

You might think all this was overkill. But you just have to look at what Calaveras County is dealing with — a lawsuit and return of almost $1 million in fees after reversing its decision to allow grows — to realize we’re doing it right.

Yes, we move slow in Nevada County on marijuana regulations. But we’re deliberate and thoughtful and desperate to avoid litigation.

So here we are: weeks away from three more public meetings on the ordinance and its accompanying environmental impact report. At the third meeting the Nevada County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on both. Approval will herald a brave new world for all of us.

But first, let’s take the slow, deliberative steps to get there.

First, there’s a county Planning Commission meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Eric Rood Administrative Center. They’ll focus on only the environmental report at this meeting.

That’ll be followed by another Planning Commission meeting on March 21. At that meeting commissioners will consider both the environmental report and the draft grow ordinance, and make recommendations on them to the supervisors.

Then comes an April supervisors meeting, when the vote on approval is expected to occur.

Public comment will occur at all three meetings. You also can comment in writing right now, through 5 p.m. Feb. 25, on the environmental report.

Once that’s done, and the new grow rules are officially on the books, let’s start taking the next steps toward bringing a legal marketplace to Nevada County.

We need more than cultivation licenses here, distribution among them. A legal, compliant grower can grow product but can’t use a local distributor if that license doesn’t exist here. They’d have to use an out-of-county business, or one in Nevada City.

Speaking of Nevada City — which recently allowed its medicinal-only dispensary to begin selling recreational product — let’s recognize that adult-use is coming here. In truth, it already is.

Barring some exceptions, a legal, commercial, medicinal grower in unincorporated Nevada County can sell their product to a distributor who can then take it to Elevation 2477’ in Nevada City, which can sell that recreationally.

Adult-use is inevitable. Nevada County should take the same steps toward this aspect of the industry as it has with its current draft ordinance. Traverse that slow, deliberate, steady course that brings this business into compliance with the law and suppresses the black market.

We need local and state taxes that encourage the industry, not force it into the shadows. We need our federal government to loosen certain laws and allow for the study of cannabis.

And we need you to get and stay involved in a process that’s built for public comment. Read the environmental report. Talk to your supervisor.

If these things happen, who knows what heights we’ll reach.

Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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