Nevada County Board of Supervisors Approves Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance

May 14, 2019 – On Tuesday, May 14th the Nevada County Board of Supervisors approved Nevada County’s Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance with a 4/5 vote. This comes after a multi-year community process starting in 2016 when 59% of Nevada County voters rejected Measure W, which proposed an ordinance banning outdoor cannabis cultivation. The cultivation ordinance allows cannabis farmers to cultivate up to 10,000 square feet with minimum parcel sizes of medicinal cannabis in specified zones including agricultural and forest zones, but not residential zones, in Nevada County. The ordinance does not allow manufacturing, dispensaries or other “supply chain” cannabis businesses.

May 14th Board Meeting

In addition to hearing public comment at the Board’s special May 7th meeting on cannabis, the Board heard an additional hour and a half of public comment on the Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance and Cannabis Environmental Impact Report (EIR) at today’s May 14th Board meeting.

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Many Board members discussed how they have constituents on both ends of the spectrum: those who are happy with having cannabis regulations and providing a pathway to compliance for cannabis farmers, and those who wish commercial cannabis cultivation was prohibited in Nevada County.

“The goal was to support the cannabis industry as well as protect the neighborhoods as best as we can. I think the answer to this is the regulation we have been working on for the past three years,” said District II Supervisor Ed Scofield during the meeting. “We knew that with the final results of this that all residents are not going to be totally happy with everything going on, but the cannabis industry has a lot of restrictions too. I support this urgency ordinance.”

Next Steps

An urgency ordinance for the County’s Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance allows the regulations to be enacted immediately rather than the 30 days typically needed for an ordinance to become policy. This will allow the ordinance to be available as policy for commercial cannabis grows as early into the season as possible.

In the next few months, County staff will be presenting revisions to Nevada County’s Land-Use and Development Code regarding changing from a “Hearing Officer” structure to a “Hearing Body” for all code compliance related appeals, including cannabis. This will help any appeals be heard in a timelier manner and lessen County costs for administering the hearings. County staff will also be bringing a cannabis land-use fee schedule at a June 2019 Board of Supervisors meeting on the 2019/2020 County budget. The cannabis land-use fee schedule will include a reduced fee schedule for non-remunerative permits.

Over the next year, County staff will continue to work with stakeholders and monitor evolving state regulations. County staff will bring an update to Board within the next year regarding any possible revisions to local regulations for non-remunerative cannabis activities.

Information and resources on cannabis permitting, filing complaints, links to ordinances, and more will be available on the Cannabis Compliance Division website.

Nevada County Cannabis History

In November 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64 allowing personal use cannabis plants to be grown indoors. Nevada County amended its ordinance to be in compliance with the new legislation. In May 2017, the County board of Supervisors appointed a Community Advisory Group (CAG) to advise the County’s new cannabis ordinance. CAG members represented a diverse group of interests from the community and represented all five County districts. The CAG met ten times and presented their recommendations to the Board in January 2018.

In May 2018, the Board voted to approve a draft ordinance for long-term cannabis cultivation regulations. In June 2018, the Board approve Urgency Ordinance 2450 allowing the issuance of Temporary Medical Commercial Cannabis Permits. Later in October 2018, the Board approved a temporary local authorization permit process so cannabis farmers in Nevada County could apply for and receive State temporary licenses.

In 2019, the County launched a Cannabis Permit Pre-Application process for Administrative Development Permits (ADP’s) and Commercial Cannabis Permits (CCP’s) and has received over 50 pre-permit applications to date.