Citizen marijuana panel talks priorities | TahoeDailyTribune.com
Alan Riquelmy
ariquelmy@theunion.com

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Citizen marijuana panel talks priorities

Members of Nevada County's marijuana citizen's group got their first chance on Tuesday, May 23, to state their priorities for a permanent grow ordinance, discussing topics like licensing and environmental concerns they want included in the final document.

Coming from different backgrounds, the 16-member community advisory group asked for environmental protections, the ability for growers to become compliant and simple rules — which could include not only cultivation but also manufacturing and transportation.

Cannabis advocates noted the state has created cultivation rules the board could use as a starting point. Environmentalists said they want to be stewards of the land. Some homeowners said they are concerned about the quality of life.

The need for feasible regulations was a theme several people raised.

"I want it to be simple and practical," said Rosemary Metrailer, one panelist.

Selected this month by the Board of Supervisors, the panelists will spend spring and summer developing recommendations for a permanent grow ordinance. County officials have said they want that ordinance in place by March.

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The meeting was the first for the advisory group. They heard from Daniel Iacofano — founding principal of MIG, Inc., the county's cannabis consultant — who told members the key themes he's heard from the community, including the desire for a path to become compliant, mitigation of environmental and homeowner impacts and bringing the community together with a set of reasonable regulations.

"We're here to get some breakthroughs and solutions and strategies," Iacofano said.

Iacofano then asked panelists for their input.

Sharyn Turner, an educator, said schools have no resources to educate children and parents about marijuana, noting that cannabis has sent some kids to the emergency room.

"We have had huge issues," she added.

Don Bessee, with Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said Nevada County can expect no state funding for youth education, arguing in favor of a deeper, local conversation about prevention.

The discussion also touched on permitting, licensing and patient rights.

Mark Schaefer, with the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, said a culture of neighbors enforcing grow rules on neighbors has created a community divide.

"We have nobody out there to ensure compliance," said Lee French, a community advocate.

Others expressed concern over the existing, interim ordinance that they compared to a ban.

Cannabis advocates have pointed to the restrictive acreage requirements and setbacks in the existing ordinance, saying they can't comply.

Forrest Hurd, an advocate of medicinal cannabis, argued the conversation is only seen through the eyes of a for-profit industry. He wants protections for children who in some cases can't move or speak for themselves. He fears they'll be left out of the process.

"We're looking for new ideas, new direction," Iacofano said, noting that the advisory panel is only the first stage of a lengthy process to forge new grow rules.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.