June 9, 2017 – I was encouraged and pleased to see an open invitation to the public for the first Community Advisory Group meeting May 22. It instilled trust in the process that county officials set forth for the creation of a permanent cannabis cultivation ordinance. Yet one comments made by one of the CAG members struck me as odd.
It was stated by one of the CAG members during the meeting that cannabis activity in Nevada County was not an “Industry”– that the definition of “Industry” was, in the speaker’s opinion, limited to product manufacturing, heavy equipment and such similar things. He suggested that cannabis cultivation was strictly an agricultural activity and should be treated as such, and that the group should refrain from using the “Industry” terminology because it was not applicable.
To this matter, I would point out that many market sectors in California’s economy use the term “Industry” to describe their business- take the tech industry, or the film industry, for example. the word “Industry”, in my mind, is a useful and appropriate term used to describe a market sector which includes many professions and business specializations, which is exactly what the Cannabis Industry has grown into in California- indeed, this industry is one of the state’s most thriving.
And importantly, this public discussion we are having, as to how to regulate the activities of the cannabis industry in Nevada County, is a conversation about much more than just cannabis cultivation (the agricultural component that the speaker referred to). The activities of the cannabis industry in our county indeed include cultivation, but also: processing (the act of processing raw cannabis that comes from the farm into a consumable good), manufacturing (of concentrates, topicals, infused and edible cannabis products), distribution and transportation (from cultivator to manufacturer, or cultivator to dispensary, or manufacturer to dispensary), testing laboratories (who measure the potency of cannabis products and, importantly, test to ensure that the product meets public health and safety standards), and Dispensaries (regulated storefronts where the end consumer can obtain medical and/or recreational cannabis that has passed through the regulated supply chain).
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The aforementioned activities are licensable market segments as recognized by the State of California’s MCRSA (Medical Cannabis regulations) bill, passed by the legislature, as well as the provisions in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop. 64) passed by popular referendum last fall. In addition to these licensed cannabis industry activities, any honest overview of the cannabis industry in Nevada County would also recognize the auxiliary businesses that are thriving as a result of the presence of the cannabis industry here: the hydroponic gardening shops, the hardware stores, the greenhouse manufacturing and assembly companies, the soil and landscaping companies, the realtors who specialize in suitable real estate, the event producers who bring featured cannabis experts to speak, and tradespeople (electricians, tractor operators, irrigation specialists, HVAC installers) who provide specialized expertise to local cannabis businesses.
To suggest that cannabis activity in Nevada County does not live up to the term “Industry” because it is merely an agricultural activity we are speaking about is at best naive, and at worst, a willful diminishment of the broad scope of business activity which even today, in the absence of regulations, is thriving.
I, like so many of my friends, family and peers in this community, wish to see the County provide recognition to cannabis industry that exists here already and develop a framework for licensing all market segments, in accordance with recently established state regulations. Creating regulations that are permissive and encourage compliance and participation in monitoring programs are the number one most effective thing that we could do to help address the nuisance and public safety issues that have arisen in an era of prohibition and the absence of sensible regulations. It will most certainly bring even more economic prosperity to our county too, by broadening the tax base.
Thankfully, the era of prohibition in California is over. It is about time we embrace the Cannabis Industry that already exists here in our community, and provide a regulatory framework and county permits, so that businesses in good faith may obtain state licenses when they soon become available.