Dan Miller: An idea for cannabis growers

Our community has a legacy unlike many in our state.

For decades, our people and our businesses have actively promoted and supported those that are less fortunate or need help. When gold mining was king, the mine owners always provided assistance to the unemployed, the elderly and the poor. Organizations like the Ladies Relief Society initiated the Donation Day Parade that to this day still carries the message of help for those in need.

This has become not only a tradition for Nevada County but also our culture. We have a big heart and we show it in so many ways.

Our community is very active and involved in a number of social and economic issues. My job as a supervisor includes knowing where to go for help and advice and to steer people to the professionals.

I was recently at Empire Mine volunteering for Starry Starry Nights, which is Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation’s largest fundraiser. I was acutely aware the guests and volunteers consisted of the same 450 community-involved citizens who appear to consistently carry the load of supporting our multitude of nonprofits.

One can name most of these generous businesses and citizens because they are the ones who are asked on a daily basis by nonprofits and other groups for needed support. I am often approached by business owners who inquire, “Why don’t the cannabis growers participate in fundraising efforts?”

Frankly, I have no answer for them.

Realistically, the cannabis industry is here to stay, and they have expressed their desire to be recognized as part of our community. To begin with, their sincerity could be demonstrated by financially supporting one of our most pressing needs, which is the homeless.

We have community members and groups who currently support the homeless and are in dire need of financial resources. If the cannabis industry wants to participate in helping to alleviate the plight of the homeless, I ask them to consider some of the following: Contribute to Hospitality House or the Salvation Army. I know Habitat for Humanity needs help, and also the Interfaith Food Ministry.

Maybe small houses are your interest. If so, you could contact Chuck Durrett or Greg Zaller. Pauli Halstead is passionate about helping the homeless and she could direct you to groups that need financial help. Janice O’Brien of Sierra Roots needs help. Whatever the focus, this is a great opportunity to begin doing what most local tax-paying businesses have been doing for years: donating their money and time to the many local nonprofits.

It is not enough to shop in local stores, eat in local restaurants and buy your supplies from local businesses. We all do this. This is about sharing the burden of providing a hand-up to those less fortunate. Even though the county currently allocates more than $12 million of taxpayer funds toward homeless and low-income programs, it is clearly not adequate.

It is often mentioned the cannabis industry brings in boatloads of money to our county. Where is it? The Cannabis Alliance reports that they have several hundred members. When you add the nonmember growers to that number, you have a sizable economic engine that ultimately could be used to put cash flow back into the homeless needs. Since the growers do not pay taxes yet, this challenge provides an opportunity for them to participate in a jumpstart of goodwill.

If the cannabis-growing community is truly committed to the welfare of Nevada County, then this idea should resonate with their leadership. Now, we invite them to join us in becoming part of the tradition.

Dan Miller is the Nevada County supervisor who represents District 3.