Pubdate: Wed, 02 May 2012
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Ben van der Meer


Medical marijuana growers in Yuba County now have 30 days to get
straight, in a manner of speaking, with a newly passed ordinance
stipulating when such grows are deemed a public nuisance.

Despite the ordinance passing the Board of Supervisors on a 5-0 vote
on Tuesday, the fact two of the first three speakers on the topic were
attorneys, suggested the matter will move next to a courtroom.

"I think it's flawed, it's poorly written and it's unconstitutional,"
said Jeffrey Lake, a San Diego attorney who specializes in medical
marijuana law and warned the board against adoption. "I would not be
surprised at all if a lawsuit is filed after 30 days."


The ordinance, which on its second reading and adoption again drew a
packed house of more than 100 people to largely oppose it, will take
effect on June 1. Under it, outdoor growing is considered a nuisance
if isn't confined to a defined space relative to the size of the
parcel, and kept largely out of sight.

A plethora of speakers in opposition gave various reasons for why it
shouldn't proceed, including a woman who said medical marijuana helped
her stop abusing prescription drugs, a civil engineer who said a third
of his business was with people setting up grow sites and a mother
whose son was in Yuba County jail over his grow site in Linda.

"I was a doctor shopper, and when I got off those pills and onto
medical marijuana, I stopped doctor shopping," said Kathie Thelen.
"Your limits are not consistent with my needs."

Perhaps mindful of a slip of paper handed out by the Yuba County
Growers Association encouraging civility, the audience was
collectively calmer at this hearing compared to one in April, if no
less emotional about the issue.

"We can't tell farmers, put the cows away because of manure smells,"
said Michael McCaulley, a consultant on medical marijuana from
Sacramento County. He referred to frequent complaints of marijuana
odor that partially led county officials to begin crafting an
ordinance. "It's just simple fact."

Supervisor John Nicoletti, who was a member of an ad hoc committee
that met with growers to try to write an ordinance they could live
with, told the audience they had to look at the bigger picture.

"You can't take that many calls for concern and not address it," he
said. The Yuba County Sheriff's Department received more than 200 such
complaint calls for marijuana growing last year.

And all five supervisors agreed to continue discussing the issue, also
voting unanimously to continue the ad hoc committee through the end of
the year.

But the next act may come sooner. County Counsel Angil Morris-Jones,
in response to a question from the board, said she felt the ordinance
would hold up in court.

"Anyone can sue," she added. "But suing and winning are two different

After the vote, though, Lake said he couldn't agree with her
conclusion, citing the ordinance's vagueness, incompatibility with
state law and unconstitutional provisions as reasons why.

"They were trying to create a law, and they invited no lawyers," he
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