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Cannabusiness pioneers Thrive Society open doors in Nevada City

It’s been a long, hard and expensive road.

But as of the end of the year, two of the 10 new tenants of a de-facto cannabis campus on New Mohawk Road — Thrive Society and Emerald Bay Wellness — have cleared all permit approval hurdles, joining dispensary Elevation 2477′ and Floracy as the first cannabis businesses to begin operating in Nevada City.

The imposing two-story building appears largely vacant at first glance, although a lot of work is being done behind those closed doors by the tenants to get up and running.

Along with Thrive and Emerald Bay Wellness, these include Zyfa, Shady Creek Trading Co., Valley of Grass, Bloomfield Co., CBD Power Bars and Revive Organics. The permits for Sky Farms and Nevada City Trading Co. are in limbo with concerns raised by law enforcement.

On Thursday, several of the principals for Thrive were at work long after 5 p.m.

“It’s been challenging, it’s been brutal,” said Danielle Dao of the year of full-time, unpaid labor. “But we’ve made it.”

“It’s been a slow roll-out,” agreed co-founder Basil McMahon.

It’s clear the Thrive Society team — rounded out by Ella Alpina and Graham Burke — is cognizant of the work needed to succeed in this burgeoning industry, and the scrutiny involved in being a pioneer in Nevada County.

“It’s definitely a paradigm shift,” McMahon said. “We’re coming out of the cannabis closet.”

McMahon has been involved in the local cannabis industry for many years. But, he says, it’s an honor and an opportunity to be able to run his business in a legitimate and legal way.

“I care about the industry,” said McMahon, who currently sits on the board of the California Growers Association. “I’m trying to lead by example, and make the city proud,”

McMahon started getting involved in advocacy work in 2014, with Measure S, a revision of the county’s medical marijuana cultivation ordinance. About two years ago, he said, he realized he “needed to get licensed or find a new line of work.”

In 2017, McMahon made headlines when his efforts to comply with environmental regulations earned him a compliance check from the Sheriff’s Office.

“I made a stink about it,” he said.

McMahon had started working with Dao on starting a nursery business together. But instead, they pivoted to focus on manufacturing and distribution.

Dao, who is originally from Louisiana, studied permaculture and sustainable planning. She was living in Hawaii when she became interested in cultivating marijuana, then moved to California about 12 years ago.

“It’s strange to be in an office every day,” Dao admitted with a laugh. “But it’s empowering to be able to step forward and showcase my knowledge.”

Alpina moved to Nevada County about five years ago from the Bay Area, a Georgetown graduate who got her MBA from Santa Clara University. She worked in the corporate world before making the transition into social entrepreneurism — what she describes as for-profit business meeting a social need. She had a “lightbulb moment” when she looked at the emerging cannabis industry in Colorado and Oregon, she said.

To Read The Rest Of This Article By Liz Keller on The Union

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Published: January 01, 2019

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