As much I respect the work of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, I feel they don’t represent the majority of the 3,000+ farms the Nevada County CDA Program Manager has stated exist in our county. Through my background with cannabis and what I’ve learned while talking to many members of our local cannabis community while campaigning for Supervisor, it’s clear many farmers don’t feel like they’re being represented. I would like to offer you my perspective, which greatly falls in line with these underrepresented farmers who are growing for personal use and/or medical and are not interested in cumbersome commercial 2,500, 5,000 or 10,000 sq. f. grows.
I’ll get to the point; I’m running on personal and property rights. I’m making multiple recommendations for restoring trust between the community and the CDA. One of the strongest points I’m running on is that the Nevada County Director of Building’s responsibilities should be BUILDING only. His job should solely consist of reviewing residential applications, overseeing front counter activities, personally reviewing all submitted commercial applications, doing all commercial site inspections and training staff for front counter as well as field inspections. That is a full-time job. I further feel that working the front counter on Wednesdays for over-the-counter permits and Thursday mornings at NCCA is not a good use of the Director of Building’s valuable time. I feel that his time can be better used for developing creative housing solutions that will meet our County’s housing element goals.
I also strongly feel it’s counterproductive for the Director of Building to be overseeing the Code Compliance Division and Cannabis Permitting. In my opinion, Building Code Complaints and Cannabis Complaints should be dealt with directly under the Agency Director and Program Manager. There is a serious breach of trust reverberating through the community because the Director of Building is tasked with overseeing the responsibilities of the Building Department, the Code Compliance Division, cannabis permitting and cannabis compliance.
Furthermore, if the County is serious about the success of their permitted Cannabis Program, the process should be shifted underneath the responsibility of the friendly staff at the Agricultural Department. Cannabis is an agricultural product and the permitting process should be dealt with by persons familiar with agricultural crops, fungicides, pesticides and the organic production of this crop. These topics are all already the arms of the Agricultural Department. Moving the oversight of cannabis over to the Agricultural Department is a viewpoint that’s supported by many members of our community and the Cannabis Alliance.
Additionally, to encourage more cannabis farmers to enter into the program, the County should create a deferment period or a temporary permitting period that waives the excessive code compliance requirements for a year if the applicant pays a nonrefundable permitting deposit of $500 to the Agricultural Department, which will be applied to their permit application if received before September 1st, 2020. The Agricultural Department should then have the authority to inspect the properties at any point and make sure gardens are following size constraints and using proper farming practices. At that point, if any serious code violations pertaining specifically to the cultivation site are deemed immediate threats to public health and safety, they can be turned over to code compliance.
I have a lot of input for non-remuneration cultivation as well. In short, this program is for medical use and should be tax-free with no commercial sales. It should also have a deferment period or temporary permitting period similar to that of the commercial program, a $500 fee and be overseen by the Agricultural Department.
I also believe we need to look at how to create a personal use program that will allow 1-5 members who live in zones prohibited from growing cannabis outdoors to grow their 6 plants cooperatively on a properly zoned ag property. I propose that the cooperative be able to register their farm annually with the Agricultural Department for a flat fee of $500. I propose it can only be outdoors in flowering state, with no lights, a maximum of 2000 sq. ft. and be allowed only on ag zoned property of five acres or more just like commercial or non-remuneration.
I know a lot of these ideas will be considered out of the box solutions, but I believe we need to be more creative in how we approach this to really begin encouraging our cannabis cultivators to transition into tax-paying businesses that will benefit our community. The commercial cannabis ordinance in Nevada County should not be more strict than California Law and should not have any additional oversight or property requirements.
When elected as Supervisor, I will work hard to be part of a sustainable and financially viable solution for cannabis cultivation in our community. If you feel strongly about issues related to cannabis in Nevada County, please contact me at email@example.com. I’m working to build a coalition of concerned citizens. Together, we’ll ensure our voices get heard in Nevada County.