Nevada City, CA May 11, 2021 – The 2020-2021 Nevada County Grand Jury (Jury) today released its report of an investigation into the County’s success at converting an estimated 3,500 – 4,000 illegal cannabis growers into permitted operators. The Jury found that the current conversion rate of 2 to 3% per year requires a substantial shift in county operations to accelerate conversion, recommending a combination of higher fines, lower fees, greater Sheriff’s enforcement, and heightened surveillance techniques as opportunities to explore.
Prompted by a citizen complaint, the Jury interviewed county and state officials, local citizens, searched online records, and reviewed other California counties’ ‘best practices.’ The Jury concluded that the Board of Supervisors is unlikely to achieve its stated 2020 priority to: “Maintain and continue to improve the cannabis permitting and enforcement program to promote permitted cannabis activities (emphasis added) while investigating options for additional supply chain license types and a compassionate use program.”
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Chief among the Jury’s findings was to suggest a stronger role in cannabis enforcement by the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office (NCSO). Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance Sec. L-II 3.30 specified a lead role for the County’s Cannabis Compliance Division (CCD) in permitting operations for illegal cannabis growers. The Jury concluded that the current small team of unarmed CCD employees, relying on citizen complaints to prioritize enforcement activities, has since 2019 made little progress legalizing the County’s estimated 3,500-4,000 illegal growers.
The Jury calls for greater ‘carrot and stick’ engagement by the NCSO, such as streamlined permitting fees combined with increased fines for illegal growers. The