Nevada County marijuana community advisory group learns about state pot laws |

Nevada County marijuana community advisory group learns about state pot laws

The branch chief of the state agency responsible for issuing marijuana cultivation licenses said Tuesday, July 25, her office might start accepting applications before Jan. 1, meaning the office potentially could issue permits the following day.

Amber Morris, branch chief of CalCannabis, told Nevada County’s community advisory group that government agencies involved in the permitting process are working toward that goal. However, a grower obtaining such a temporary license must have a local permit — likely an impossibility for Nevada County cultivators because such permits won’t exist by then.

“It’s a crazy timeline we’re working under already,” Morris said.

The CalCannabis branch chief spoke at the cannabis panel’s fifth meeting. Panelists heard from Morris, as well as two representatives of the Rural County Representatives of California, about state law dictating the new marijuana landscape.

Paul Smith, with the rural county group, told the panel that the state has no requirement for growers to have local permits — a recent change in law. However, the state will issue no license to a cultivator if that person is violating a local ordinance. Smith advised local governments to write their own regulations.

Morris said temporary licenses do require local permits.

Arthur Wylene, an attorney with the rural county group, said governments should be clear with their rules. He feared a situation in which an ordinance failed to mention, for example, nurseries. That could lead to two arguments — its omission means they’re allowed, or alternatively that they’re forbidden.

“Be clear,” Wylene said. “Think down the branches of the logic tree.”

Smith also delved into what local governments can’t do, like prohibiting cannabis deliveries on public roads.

Proposition 64, which in November legalized the recreational adult use of cannabis, allows people to grow six plants for personal use. Wylene noted that local governments can’t prohibit those personal plants, but they can reasonably regulate them.

The question of what’s reasonable already has led to at least one lawsuit against a California city, Wylene said.

“You’re going to get sued,” Smith said to some laughter. “You’re going to get sued no matter what you do.”

Pivoting to taxes, Smith said the state has various cultivation taxes in place, along with a 15 percent retail tax. Local governments can implement additional taxes, though they must gain approval from the voters.

“Be careful using this authority,” Smith said. “You do not want to price your products out of a regulatory framework.”

The Board of Supervisors created the marijuana panel to gather information and write recommendations for a permanent grow ordinance. The panel is expected to deliver those recommendations around year’s end. Supervisors have said they want the ordinance in place by March.

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