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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Not a new industry: ERC hears about cannabis development

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The cannabis industry is increasingly affecting the residents of Nevada County.

Recognizing this, the Economic Resources Board has highlighted how this dynamic can capitalize on opportunities locally.

Diana Jamzon, co-founder and CEO of the Nevada County Hemp Alliance and member of the ERC Board of Directors, updated the organization Thursday about the growing impact of cannabis on not only conventional farming, but the many ancillary businesses that are benefiting from increased sales of cannabis in the county.



The alliance emerged from the defeat of Measure W. in 2016. The group aims to unite the voices of the cannabis community, providing advocacy and education to support the thriving, licensed and artisanal cannabis industry. It seeks to have an industry rooted in a rural economy focused on artisanal farming and environmental stewardship.

“We have a rich history of cannabis that begins to come back to Earth in the 1960s and 1970s,” she said. “It is entwined in many of our cultural institutions, our nonprofits and the organic farming movement here in the county. And it has provided supplemental income over the decades for many of our community service workers, construction workers, and health care workers. So, nowadays, hemp is not a new industry here.” .



Gamzon added that the boycott has a legal path, although it is important for the allowed community to take those in the unlicensed community to legality, because they’re already part of our community and they’re part of the economic base. To date, 125 permits have already been issued and a similar number is in the process of being processed. The majority of these are new tax-generating businesses from the past three years and grown from within the county.

Jamzon said other cannabis-producing counties, including Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake, Monterey and Santa Barbara, have encouraged multi-space startups.

“That’s not what we’re looking for here,” she added. “We love crafts. But we also don’t attract much interest from companies from outside the county as they get a lot of space. We want to support this craft industry here.”

Next steps

Jamzon said the total acreage of all crops, excluding hemp, for the 2020-2021 fiscal year was 3,313 acres. The total cannabis harvest harvested in the same year was 16 acres. Hemp uses only 5% of the cropland, but its value in the 2020-2021 fiscal year was $16.5 million, compared to $19.7 million for total agricultural assets. Cannabis has also created 300 full-time jobs over the past three years.

Nevada City in 2018 decreed the creation of dozens of cannabis businesses, including the only retail dispensary, Elevation 2477′, as well as one testing lab, nine distribution facilities and nine manufacturing companies, all owned by locals who grew up in Nevada. boycott. In 2018, total tax revenue exceeded $1.5 million.

In the neighboring Grass Valley, a cannabis ordinance was passed in 2020. The city expects to approve permits within the coming months.

Jamzon said an important next step is to acknowledge the scandalous unlicensed cannabis growers.

“They are not from here and they come to our county as extractors of the earth’s resources,” she said. “The Alliance does not represent that segment of the cannabis community. We are actively working with various community organizations across the county. We support policy that provides for proactive enforcement against these awful growers who are a real threat to the health and safety of our community.”

The alliance wants to continue to normalize hemp as an artisanal crop alongside the province’s traditional products. Jamzon said Nevada County is already known as an access point for cannabis. Hemp growers have strengthened a partnership with UC Davis researchers on the palliative benefits that cannabis can produce for a number of chronic diseases.

“Farmers are growing research strains that are linked to studies in cancer patients,” Jamzon said. “It’s time to highlight this, take advantage of this part of our economy.”

Hemp can also be part of a host of attractions that attract visitors to the county. These attractions could include bike paths, restaurants, historic hotels, and a display at the arts center, culminated in a cannabis farm tour, Jamzon suggested.

Additionally, Nevada County has an ideal climate for growing cannabis, with extended mild weather in the fall that yields high-quality cannabis. The alliance works statewide to designate specific Appellation of Origin regions, and can justify a premium price for maintaining strict standards.

“So, we’re focusing on the Yuba River watershed, which is where we’re headed, and we’re providing education for the cannabis community,” Jamzon said. “And we will continue to inform the Equity and Reconciliation Commission and the (Commerce) Chambers as soon as we get the appellation of origin, and put us on the map nationally and internationally.”

William Roller is a writer for The Union. It can be accessed at wroller@theunion.com

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