Pubdate: Wed, 09 Nov 2011
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Union
Author: Liz Kellar
Bookmark: (Cannabis - California)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


A proposed county ordinance to regulate marijuana cultivation drew a 
standing-room-only audience to the Board of Supervisors meeting 
Tuesday afternoon.

The push for such an ordinance stems from a large marijuana garden on 
an Annie Drive vacant lot in Alta Sierra, which sparked the formation 
of Nevada County Against Residential Cannabis Cultivation. The group 
has advocated for the ordinance and was in very visible attendance Tuesday.

A sample ordinance was brought to the board by Sheriff Keith Royal; 
although the agenda item was for discussion only, public comment was 
allowed due to the high level of interest.

Royal emphasized the ordinance - which could limit the number of 
plants depending on zoning, as well as grows within 1,000 feet of 
areas where children gather - is only a template.

"We're not here to take away a person's right to medical marijuana," 
Royal said. "We're just trying to get a handle on it."

More than two dozen people spoke Tuesday, seeming evenly split 
between those supporting the ordinance - albeit with some concerns - 
and those who felt it would unfairly penalize legitimate small growers.

Those in favor shared concerns with noise, traffic, crime and odor, 
as well as the harm to property values.

"Why can't I be on certain parts of my own property during the 
growing season?" asked Maureen Detoy, who said the smell of marijuana 
causes her allergies to flare up. "Where are my rights?"

"I'd just like to get my neighborhood back," said Frank Jackson, who 
advocated for a more restrictive ordinance.

Several growers and medical marijuana patients spoke, telling 
supervisors they obey the law and arguing the proposed ordinance 
would be unduly restrictive.

"The ordinance is very Draconian," said Robert Steuber, disabled 
since birth. "It throws the baby out with the bathwater, and I'm one 
of the babies."

"This would do nothing to curb large commercial grows," said Jedediah 
Biagi. "So what's the point? It would only make it more difficult and 
expensive for legitimate patients to obtain their medicine."

Several in the audience brought up the economic impact of restricting 
marijuana grows - which Nevada City Council member Reinette Senum 
called "the elephant in the room."

"A lot of business owners have come to me, telling me, this crop is 
keeping us afloat right now," Senum said, proposing an economic impact study.

The supervisors put the ball back in Royal's court, telling him to 
move forward with a draft ordinance. Royal indicated the process 
could take as long as four months and said he would reach out to the 
various special interest groups.

"We're looking for a middle ground," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom