Pubdate: Wed, 14 Dec 2011
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2011 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ben van der Meer, Appeal-Democrat


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

"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

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

Mallen said the first draft of a proposed ordinance could come before
the board next month. 
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