Pubdate: Wed, 18 Apr 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ben van der Meer


Yuba County has adopted an ordinance to guide when growing medical 
marijuana is a nuisance, but the ordinance, and legal reaction to it, 
are far from burned out as an issue.

With an overflow crowd at Tuesday's meeting, supervisors adopted the 
ordinance on a 4-1 vote with the understanding an ad hoc committee of 
two supervisors will continue studying the issue for possible changes 
before final adoption next month.

"We're trying to deal with this issue in a civil way," said 
Supervisor John Nicoletti, one of the committee members, after county 
Sheriff Steve Durfor said his department had more than 200 nuisance 
calls about pot grows last year. "We need to be pretty honest about 
the impacts going all the way around, or the problem won't go away."

But civility was a tough requirement for many who attended, who 
loudly booed after the vote and on more than one occasional drowned 
out supervisors from the floor, both during the ordinance's 
presentation and during subsequent public comment and supervisor discussion.

The ordinance, created by the committee in consultation with county 
staff, local growers and law enforcement representatives, would 
create limits on how big a space people with valid medical marijuana 
cards could use to grow plants, depending on the size of the parcel.

As well, the parcel would have to have a inhabited, permitted home on 
it; growing indoors or inside a structure such as a shed would be 
encouraged to keep plants from public view; and the grow area would 
have a defined setback from fence lines.

For many speakers, the key sticking point was the 10-foot-by-10-foot 
growing space allowed on parcels less than an acre, which county 
staff said would accommodate about six plants.

Many said that was too small relative to the amount needed to 
medicate various illnesses. One speaker demonstrated by standing arms 
spread inside a demonstration area the county set up in board 
chambers, complete with lobby plants in the place of mature pot grows. "

Since doctors don't have a limit on what they can recommend, the 
county shouldn't have a limit," said Daniel Aspin.

Many speakers took it a step further, saying the county's ordinance 
was an attempt to strip rights from people who were sick and bearing 
signs with the same message. As one woman said, "Who are you to tell 
me, 'you can only grow on 10-by-10'? It's my property!"

The repeated catcalls from the audience, often followed by others 
encouraging quiet, seemed to vex the supervisors, with chairman Hal 
Stocker saying at one point, "Can't you see something's being done up here?"

Representatives from the Yuba County Growers Association, a 
registered not-for-profit group, told supervisors they believed the 
ordinance was better than one originally discussed last month, but 
still far from what was needed.

Supervisor Mary Jane Griego, the other committee member working on 
the issue, agreed for more consideration, and motioned for continuing 
the item. No one seconded it, and the ordinance then passed on a 4-1 
vote with Griego opposed.

Sam McConnell, the YCGA's president, said he was hopeful he could 
meet with the county before the ordinance comes up again for final 
adoption on May 1. Among the unresolved issues were how the ordinance 
would apply to collectives, where marijuana for several patients is 
grown in one location.

Without changes, though, he said his group was prepared to file an 
injunction, and subsequent lawsuits.

"A lot of people have already spent time and money," he said of his 
group, which has about 2,000 members. He said he believed the county 
had to work with his group. "We are voters too," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom