Pubdate: Wed, 10 Dec 2014
Source: Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, CA)
Copyright: 2014 Appeal-Democrat
Author: Eric Vodden


About 300 people turned out for Tuesday's Yuba County Board of 
Supervisors hearing.

Medical marijuana patients and growers - making up most of a 
standing-room-only crowd - vociferously told Yuba County supervisors 
that banning outdoor pot grows is a bad idea.

"I want to get rid of the criminal element as much as you," grower 
Chris Ashe told the board during a three-hour Tuesday afternoon 
supervisors workshop on the county's medical marijuana ordinance. 
"Everybody in this room wants the same thing, a good quality of life."

The "room" was the Board of Supervisors chambers and the crowd of 
some 300 people represented opposite ends of the medical marijuana spectrum.

"If you make it more restrictive you will be putting more of a burden 
on law enforcement and your administration," said Al Owen of 
Camptonville. "Prohibition has never worked anyplace. It just creates 
a new class of illegal people."

However, Mike Lee of Dobbins said his quiet foothills neighborhood 
has changed dramatically since marijuana started being grown. He 
called for the ban on outdoor grows.

"I have seen our neighborhood go from being nice and peaceful to 
being a war zone," Lee said. "I have a neighbor who fires an 
automatic weapon and there has been livestock killed by guard dogs.

"I have seen our neighborhood become a very dangerous place to live."

More than 45 people spoke during the workshop in which the board was 
presented with three sample ordinances from outside counties seen as 
potential models for a new local law. All three - from Sacramento, 
Shasta and Fresno counties - ban outdoor grows in the wake of court 
rulings that give counties leeway for severe restrictions.

But after three hours of testimony and frequent applause, supervisors 
didn't discuss any of the model ordinances, nor any of the testimony, 
and instead delayed further discussion until 3 p.m. Jan. 13.

Board chairman John Nicoletti asked Deputy County Counsel John Vacek 
to take the lead in "researching" comments made during the hearing.

Supporters of the existing ordinance said changing it would punish 
those who comply, provide a hardship for those who grow marijuana for 
medical reasons and deprive the county of jobs.

"Outlawing them isn't going to stop them," said Sam McConnell, 
president of the Yuba County Growers Association. "What it will do is 
create a black market and a more violent market."

Those who want a more restrictive ordinance say Yuba County's more 
liberal law has resulted in the county becoming a magnet for illegal 
marijuana activity. It has reduced the foothills quality of life, 
they maintain.

"In looking at the situation now, I really feel the only model you 
can adopt now is the Fresno County ordinance," said Buck Weckman, who 
last month presented a petition to the board containing 245 names of 
people favoring an outdoor ban.

The Fresno ordinance, which has been challenged by seven lawsuits 
since it was adopted earlier this year, bans all growing.

Yuba County's ordinance, adopted in 2012 with the help of the Growers 
Association, allows 18 outdoor plants on parcels of less than an 
acre, 30 on 1 to 5 acres, 60 on 5 to 20 acres and 99 on 20 acres or 
more. There are also specifications related to setbacks from schools 
and property lines and a requirement for 6-foot fencing.

Lien placed on Olivehurst property

Yuba County supervisors, a couple of hours before the workshop on 
their medical marijuana ordinance, imposed a $13,213 lien on an 
Olivehurst property in which 49 allegedly illegal plants were grown.

Supervisors voted unanimously to record the lien for penalties 
assessed against Mohammad Khan, owner of the Sun Avenue property. The 
board rejected an argument from Khan's attorney, Charnel James, that 
he shouldn't be assessed because he was unaware somebody leasing the 
property was growing marijuana.

The violations allegedly took place last September.

"For me it's pretty simple," said Supervisor Mary Jane Griego. 
"That's his property. Those were plants growing on his property. It's 
a violation of the ordinance."

The violation in this case was there was a marijuana grow on property 
that did not contain a permanent residence.

James argued there is language in the county's ordinance she said 
states the landowner has to be aware of the plants to be fined. But 
Jeremy Strang, division manager of the county's code enforcement 
division, said he believes Khan "had prior knowledge of the ordinance 
and its requirements."

Khan did not attend the hearing.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom