Nevada County supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 13, opposed allowing commercial recreational marijuana grows, instead opting for medicinal commercial cultivation in specific zones that meet acreage requirements.
Supervisors also agreed to allow up to six plants grown outdoors for personal use in certain zones, though no outdoor grows could occur in single- and multi-family areas.
The supervisors’ decisions about cannabis grows are the latest step in their efforts to craft a new grow ordinance.
County staff will now write that ordinance based off Tuesday’s discussion, possibly returning in six weeks to the supervisors with their results, said Mali Dyck, interim deputy CEO.
“I’m not sure what that product is,” Dyck said of what staff will have at that point.
The grow requirements discussed Tuesday could change over time. More public input, including a tentative March 6 meeting, is expected before supervisors vote on the new ordinance — a set of new rules the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance wants in effect by May 1.
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“Are we going to allow commercial grows?” Scofield said, saying that question is what most people ask. “And if we allow commercial grows, where are they going to be?”
Supervisors quickly decided they would allow medical commercial grows only, though they didn’t rule out commercial recreational grows in the future. They chose general agriculture, agricultural exclusive and forest zones that meet acreage requirements as suitable sites for grows.
Residential agriculture zones, previously discussed as a possible spot for commercial activity, aren’t included.
Any cultivation must occur on at least two acres — a size that would increase depending on the size of the grow, which would be limited at 10,000 square feet.
Supervisors agreed to a 100-foot setback for commercial grows, and 1,000-foot setback from schools.
Tackling outdoor personal grows, supervisors told staff to examine a maximum of six plants outdoors on exclusive agriculture, general agriculture, forest and timberland preserve zones. Up to six outdoor plants could grow on residential agriculture estate and residential agriculture rural zones, if parcels are at least five acres.
State law allows property owners to grow up to six plants indoors.
Pivoting toward whether to allow other types of licenses, like manufacturing or distribution, supervisors heard from CEO Rick Haffey. The county executive officer advised supervisors to focus on creating a cultivation ordinance first, returning to other aspects of a new cannabis ordinance once grow rules are set.
Supervisors then shied away from continued discussion about other licenses, but told staff to offer parameters for a transition period — a time period in which growers could come into compliance without penalty.
The board also heard from several speakers. Attendees filled the board chambers, leaving only standing room at the back of the large area.
Diana Gamzon, executive director of the Nevada County Cannabis Alliance, told supervisors she’d like the new ordinance in effect by May 1.
“We have an opportunity here to be a leader for California cannabis regulations,” she said.
Tom Head, who lives in South County, said the smell of marijuana has become unbearable at his home. He dismissed one suggestion of a 150-foot setback, calling it inefficient, and asked supervisors to clearly designate employees the public can contact when they have a cannabis-related issue.