Pubdate: Wed, 14 Dec 2011 Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA) Copyright: 2011 Appeal-Democrat Contact: http://www.appeal-democrat.com/sections/services/forms/editorletter.php Website: http://www.appeal-democrat.com Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1343 Author: Ben van der Meer, Appeal-Democrat MARYSVILLE WORKSHOP ON POT ORDINANCE: 'MEND IT, DON'T END IT' When marijuana growers suggested ordinances Yuba County could use to regulate medical marijuana, and anti-pot Supervisor Andy Vasquez said he appreciated the input on an issue here to stay, it could be taken as a sign of progress in the Yuba-Sutter area's weed wars. With supervisors holding a workshop Tuesday to discuss a possible medical marijuana ordinance, the prevailing theory among both the board and more than a dozen speakers seemed to be: Mend it, don't end it. "We want to work with you. We want to get an ordinance drafted," said Eric Salerno, spokesman for the Yuba County Growers Association. "Once you put the regulations in place, it would separate those who are inside the law from those who are outside the law." Supervisors began talking about an ordinance to regulate medical marijuana grows after hearing from residents angry over the pervasive smell of pot next door. But law enforcement officials said there is another concern, with Sheriff Steve Durfor telling supervisors that in September and October alone, the Sheriff's Department responded to eight robberies or other incidents related to such grows. Durfor also said his department is aware of 200 growing sites in the county, but he suspects there are as many as 500, many of them possibly growing for illegal sales. "What seems to have exploded on us has gone far beyond the original intention of Proposition 215," Durfor told supervisors, referring to the 1996 state initiative allowing medical marijuana. An Olivehurst man, Dennis McCleod, told the board he is suspicious of a growing site next door to him, after he has noticed the presence of armed security and had laser sighting pointed at him when he has gone in his backyard. "This is criminal activity, and it's rampant inside Yuba County," he said. But several people who identified themselves as Proposition 215 proponents, if not growers, told supervisors they fully sympathized with McCleod's situation, saying it's one the county should address. What many of them feared, though, was an overly restrictive ordinance that would affect both large growers and people with just a few prescribed plants for their own illnesses. "I have the same concerns as everyone else, but as a patient, I want to be treated like one," said Ruby Hamel of Browns Valley, who said she was legally using marijuana to cope with stomach cancer and multiple sclerosis. In describing how an ordinance could be structured, county Community Services and Development Director Kevin Mallen said growing legally could depend on where it happened in the county, how many plants were involved, and whether it was done inside or outside. Defining grows in some situations as a public nuisance and subject to county enforcement, he said, wouldn't be the same as endorsing growing or cultivation, which are against federal law. Supervisors said Mallen, Durfor and District Attorney Patrick McGrath, who are charged with drafting a possible ordinance, should take all perspectives into account, including the growers. "We shouldn't have to write laws to force common sense, but unfortunately, it boils down to that," Supervisor Mary Jane Griego said. Mallen said the first draft of a proposed ordinance could come before the board next month. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.