Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jul 2011 Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA) Copyright: 2011 The Union Contact: http://apps.theunion.com/utils/forms/lettertoeditor/ Website: http://www.theunion.com/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/957 Author: Kyle Magin, Staff Writer COUNTY SAYS NO TO MEDIPOT DISPENSARIES Medical marijuana dispensaries are banned from operating in Nevada County. County Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to ban dispensaries from opening in the unincorporated county, following the lead of Grass Valley and Nevada City, which also have banned dispensaries, and the Town of Truckee, which doesn't allow for dispensaries in its zoning. District 3 Supervisor Terry Lamphier opposed the ban. "We cannot make decisions based upon the welfare of a small number of people," said District 1 Supervisor Nate Beason, in reference to advocates for medical marijuana who were present at Tuesday's meeting. "My constituents have no interests whatsoever in a medical marijuana dispensary." Dispensary advocates spoke to the difficulty of driving to the closest dispensary, in Colfax, as one of the reasons they were opposing the ban, a point not lost on Lamphier. "I am concerned that folks in our community with a legitimate need for medical marijuana are put at an unnecessary personal risk and hardship due to the lack of safe, regulated sources of marijuana," Lamphier said. Public safety issues surrounding marijuana are present with and without dispensaries, he added. To view a full transcript of Lamphier's descending opinion, click on the attachment to this story. Safe access to marijuana is provided in the county, and a dispensary would present a security concern, said Sheriff Keith Royal. Patients can grow marijuana or ask someone to grow for them in a safe way, he added. "This is about the distribution location" and the crime a dispensary would draw, such as street dealers looking to undercut prices offered at such an establishment, Royal said. Noting that he was sympathetic to medical marijuana users after meeting with several of them over the last year, Board Chair Ed Scofield however supported the ban, citing security and quality of life issues for people who live in neighborhoods where people grow marijuana. "That's just not a controlled activity," he said. The county is not compelled to allow dispensaries under state law, said Nevada County DA Cliff Newell. "This is an issue of law," Newell said. "(The law) does not anywhere . call for storefront, for-profit locations." Joining the DA and Sheriff in favor of a ban was Vicki Downs, who spoke as a representative for the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County. "This is not something that's going to help our area," she said. More than twice as many people spoke in opposition of the ban at Tuesday's meeting as those who spoke in its favor. During terminal bouts with cancer, said Nevada City's Jacalyn Royce, both of her parents used medical marijuana to increase their appetite and suppress pain. "There are much bigger problems in our community than a bunch of sick people trying to get medicine," she said. The point of having a dispensary is so patients "can avoid the black market in order to get it," she added. Beason pointed out that a number of medical needs aren't available locally, forcing people to drive off the hill to meet them. "One thing we do have on the hill are pharmacies," Royce said. "And the people here have a right to get their medicine here." Medical marijuana patients must drive an unreasonable distance for their medicine, added Grass Valley's Patricia Smith. "It's safer to have a facility you can monitor," said Ryan Landers, an advisor with the Sacramento-area Compassionate Coalition, a group that advocates for medical marijuana patients' rights. "Because if they aren't getting it from a safe facility, they're going to the streets." Rincon Del Rio development discussed In other board business, a handful of speakers at Tuesday's meeting got into a heated exchange with Scofield over the proposed Rincon del Rio senior development in southern Nevada County, along the Bear River. Speakers from the Lake of the Pines Ranchos neighborhood voiced their opposition to the proposed development, which is adjacent to the Ranchos and currently going through the early stages of the planning process. The speakers would have their turn to comment on the project in the planning process, and comments before supervisors may not be the right forum so early in the process, Scofield said. "Now, I don't want to accept any more comment on this," Scofield said following the first few speakers. But, speakers continued to voice their opinions and insist upon their right to speak during the public comment portion of the meeting. Scofield relented and allowed them to proceed, but not before again voicing his opinion that the item is a long way off from the supervisors' plate. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.