Grand Jury Advises New Approach to Cannabis in Nevada County

Nevada County is home to an estimated 3,500 to 4,000 illegal marijuana grow operations. Among the thousands of sites where commercial cannabis is grown, less than 100 have permits and fewer than 200 people have even bothered to apply for one.

On May 11, the Nevada County Grand Jury released its report on marijuana operations in the county. It includes a series of recommendations for bringing these operations out of the shadows and under the authority of local regulators.

According to the Grand Jury, the cost of obtaining a cannabis business permit in Nevada County is between $85,000 and $300,000, not including construction costs, equipment, and other overhead. Loans are nearly impossible to attain, thanks to the federal prohibition on marijuana. And unlike other businesses, cannabis companies can’t write off their expenses.

For the county to meet its goal of increased revenues from cannabis operations, it must convert more illegal grows into legal ones. To do that, the Grand Jury concluded, it must adopt a streamlined permitting process with lower permitting costs.

The Grand Jury has also recommended a stronger enforcement role for the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office with more sophisticated surveillance technology and the possible addition of sheriff’s substations in North San Juan and other remote areas. It’s a carrot-and-stick approach that combines a simpler, cheaper permitting process with more robust enforcement mechanisms.

Read the full report here.