Nevada County pot advisory panel talks cultivation, sales
Members of Nevada County’s community advisory group on Tuesday, June 13, dipped their toes into a larger discussion about cannabis, sharing their opinions that ultimately will help shape a permanent grow ordinance.
The 16-member panel, meeting for the second time, waded into a discussion about commercial versus medical marijuana, as well as where and how county residents could grow, process and manufacture the plant.
Using questions about home-based grows, delivery, sales and tasting rooms, MIG, Inc. — the county’s cannabis consultant — elicited panelists’ opinions that grew into a roundtable discussion.
“How we go about doing it is important,” said Jonathan Collier, a member of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, about home-based cultivation.
Mark Schaefer, also an alliance member, said he wants to ensure medicinal marijuana patients are protected.
“We’ve been here before,” he added. “Cultivation continues through every ban we’ve had.”
Don Bessee, executive director of the Northern California chapter of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, drew a line between commercial and personal use. Others, like Pamela Swartz, emphasized her desire to restrict large businesses coming to Nevada County and forcing out smaller growers.
Still others said they were new arrivals to the larger cannabis discussion and need to learn more.
“I have a lot of things I need to learn,” Sharyn Turner said.
The questions posed by Daniel Iacofano, principal and CEO of MIG, at times revealed differences and agreement among the advisory board.
Michael Mastrodonato said processing and manufacturing in another industry wouldn’t be allowed without regulation, noting a food product sold to the public must occur in a commercial kitchen.
Rich Johansen, who has an agricultural background, said governmental regulations could make the cost of a secure facility reach $150,000.
“If we’re talking mom-and-pop, I don’t know how you can afford it,” Johansen said.
In all answers many advisory board members, if not most, said they were willing to consider the possibility of home-based grows, manufacture, processing and delivery.
Many, however, opposed home-based sales.
Concerning sales, Matthew Shapero asked if the county would consider marijuana as an agricultural crop. If it does, then it could be sold from the farm like potatoes.
“I don’t know yet,” said Shapero when asked his opinion of treating marijuana as an agricultural product.
Johansen said he didn’t equate a grow to a winery. People want to know the potency of cannabis when they buy it.
Catherine Peterson said she’s concerned about how close such sales might be to schools.
The June 13 discussion was the second of eight meetings planned for the community advisory group. The Nevada County Board of Supervisors created the panel to draw input and write recommendations for its permanent grow ordinance, which supervisors want in place by March.
The next advisory panel meeting is scheduled for 2 p.m. on June 27 at the Foothills Event Center, 400 Idaho Maryland Road, Grass Valley.