The Good and The Bad

Nevada County First Draft of Cultivation Ordinance Wins & Losses



  • Temporary Permits for Summer 2018!

Symbolically a huge victory for the cannabis community. This is the first time that the Board of Supervisors have gone against staff recommendations in support of cultivators. However, before jumping in, realize that the temporary permitting structure will be extremely restrictive (based on the current ordinance which only allows for 1000 square feet of canopy cultivation) and will trigger a process that not everyone is prepared to embark on.

  • Setbacks

Setbacks were set 100 feet from the neighboring property line. Although much better than previous ordinances, it still is restrictive for many growers. However, the BOS in response to our urgings put in two setback variances that could ease or reduce this distance. Also, initially in the draft ordinance the variances would only apply to accessory structures, fortunately public feedback prompted the Board to include outdoor gardens in the easement process.

  • Setbacks from Sensitive Use

Setbacks from sensitive use sites are 1,000 feet including schools, churches, parks, child care centers, or youth-oriented facilities. However, the Board did decide to remove school bus stops, and school evacuation from sensitive use sites. Also, if a cultivator is neighboring a state park they can apply to reduce the setback from 1,000 feet to not less than 300 feet.

  • Transition Period for Code Compliance

The Board approved a two-year transition period for cultivators to bring their property up to code. This is directed primarily at property improvements not associated with the cultivation site such as as-builts, home construction, and grading. However, they did include accessory structures used for cannabis activity. Remember any immediate threats to health and public safety must be taken care of immediately and the cultivation site itself must be in compliance before a permit will be issued.

  • Greenhouses and Accessory Structures

Initially the draft ordinance required full glass or polycarbonate greenhouse structures, excluding cold frames and high tunnels. After compelling arguments, the BOS requested county staff to return with alternative options for greenhouses and accessory structures including hoop houses.

  • Non-Remunerative Grows in Nevada County

The board approved a non-remunerative growing program. This is a huge win for our patients. It allows a qualified primary caregiver to cultivate up to 500 square feet for a patient, and for up to five patients. However, non-remunerative cultivators have to apply to the same standards as commercial licensed cultivators.

  • Distribution Self-Transport

Included in the draft ordinance was the ability for a cultivator to apply for the Distribution Transport to Self-Distribute. This will give farmers the ability to move their own product off their farms to other licensed operators down the supply chain without having to hire outside services.

  • Clarity for “Greater Than” and “Less Than” Language

As the draft ordinance was written the land use parameters used the language “greater than (x) acres and less than (y)” acres. Respectively this would have made it “5 acres or less” rather than “5 acres and more.” In the last minute the board clarified that the language should read “5 acres and more up to 9.99 acres” etc.

  • Personal Use Registration Requirement

The board decided against a registration for personal use, citing the extra burden placed on the county and on the public. As it stands, personal use allows for 6 plants indoor on all parcel types. The board has expanded that to allow for 6 plants outdoors on AG/AE/FR zoned parcels on 2 acres or more, and on Res-Ag on 5 acres or more.

  • Ban on Firearms

Initially the draft ordinance banned firearms from being present on parcels where cultivation would take place. This language was overturned by the board.

  • Limitations on Permits Issued to a Single Entity

As drafted the limit would allow for a maximum of 3 “commercial cannabis business” permits to be issued to a single person or entity. Although we support the limitation that would allow big business to stack licenses, we don’t support limiting the ability of our small businesses to vertically integrate. By changing the language from “business” to “cultivation” we accomplish both.



  • Two acre minimum for personal OUTDOOR grows (at least it didn’t get bumped up to 3!)
  • Six plants for outdoor grows on over 2 acres (if in TPZ, FR, AG, AE)



  • Ban on Residential Agriculture Permits

Unfortunately members of the Board held out on the ability for cultivators in Res-Ag to be included in the commercial cannabis program. This was a tough loss as we know many of our supporters live in this zone. However, we will continue to push options for Res-Ag in the future.

  • Commercial Outdoor Grows on 2-5 Acres

Although, cottage indoor commercial grows will be allowed on AG/AE/FR for parcels of 2-5 acres, the Board did not extend this to mixed-light or outdoor cultivation.