Behind the Green Curtain: Cannabis Committee decisions are being appealed


Now that the work of Grass Valley’s Commercial Cannabis Selection Committee is largely complete, there are doubts as to whether the company will continue.

The committee, set up on July 13, determined which applicants were granted commercial cannabis permits to operate a cannabis business in the city. The committee consisted of three people – Jonathan Collier, Marty Lombardi and Lisa Swarthout. It initially included a fourth, Amy Wolfson, who later asked to be disqualified from the exam.

City Manager Tim Kiser recommended her appointment, and the Grass Valley City Council agreed, prosecutor Michale Coulantuono said.

“I cannot comment further as administrative appeals are pending and litigation is possible,” he said.

One of those appealing the committee’s decision is Max Del Real, director of government relations at NUG Inc., who was denied a license to open a retail cannabis dispensary on November 22. Del Real said he will proceed with the appeal.

“I’m pushing that really hard,” he said. “I’m looking for a win/win solution – allow two cannabis retail locations.”

Grass Valley only allows one pharmacy.

The other candidate with a calling is Sierra Flower, led by Alana Haley. Her company negotiated a lease last summer to occupy a portion of the former Foothills Event Center with the goal of opening a retail pharmacy. Despite being turned down a pharmacy, Sierra Flower was granted distribution approval.


Although the city’s cannabis board was referred to as a committee, it wasn’t really a committee, Colantuono said.

“It never met,” he said. “The three reviewers did their work independently, and city officials counted their scores.”

The appeals from the NUG and Sierra Flower are similar to those made when someone appeals a planning commission decision to the city council, Colantuono said.

“Yes, there are the two appeals of Sierra Flower and NUG, but the 15-day appeal period has expired, so we expect no more from the decision to select Provisions as a qualifying application for the one pharmacy license. ”

Retired Nevada County Superior Court Judge Albert Dover will hear the appeals and recommend a decision to the city council. The council may accept Dover’s recommendation, amend it, or return the appeals to Dover for further work, Colantuono said.

“The Council adopted rules to regulate the appeals,” he added. “If the council makes a final decision and complainants remain unhappy, they can sue the city.”

Litigation over the award of limited cannabis dispensaries is common, Colantuono said.

“So the city is trying to tread carefully and trying to respect everyone’s rights.”

Colantuono said the group is not subject to the Brown Act, the state law that requires certain government agencies to do their jobs openly.

“Because they’re not really a ‘committee’ in the sense that they haven’t had meetings or dialogues,” he said. “These were three independent reviewers.”

William Roller is a staff writer at The Union. He can be reached at