Pubdate: Tue, 05 Jan 2016
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Union
Author: Teresa Yinmeng Liu


With a draft marijuana ordinance on the table pending a discussion 
next week, several Nevada City officials shared their thoughts on the 
issue with The Union with promises to work with the community, county 
and Grass Valley to carve out the details of a cannabis regulation 
specific for Nevada City.

The matter first came up during a city council meeting on Nov. 18. 
Elected officials voted 4-1 to move forward with a draft measure that 
bans all outdoor cannabis cultivation and allows limited indoor 
growth by qualified patients and primary caregivers.

The draft ordinance was then passed to the Planning Commission for 
review. Commissioners voted 4-1 during a special meeting on Dec. 10 
to support the proposed regulation with a few revisions and 
clarifications. The ordinance will come back to the city council for 
a first reading on Jan. 13, officials said.

"I'm very happy that the Planning Commission supported our decision," 
said Vice Mayor Evans Phelps. "I'm happy with the status quo ... 
unless there is big community support for doing it another way."

During the Nov. 18 city meeting, Mayor Jennifer Ray spoke publicly 
about her opposition to all cultivation in town, while Phelps voiced 
support for a more flexible form of regulation.

Phelps said for her, outdoor and indoor growth should be permissible 
if the grower meets Nevada County's cultivation ordinance 
requirements and is able to provide a medical prescription.

"Can you do it in town? You can do it in town as long as you meet the 
county requirements," said Phelps. "But I'm certainly going for what 
the community wants."

Council member Duane Strawser agreed that it is important to give 
patients who have a legitimate medical need a chance to grow, but he 
cautioned against enacting a measure with unrestricted provisions.

"... The problem is, too many people have arcane medical scripts that 
don't deserve it or need it, and they cause problems for people who 
do," Strawser said.

Strawser said he would not base his decision on whether marijuana 
cultivation helps generate extra funding for the city.

"To me that is not right. Money is just paper. Our way of life, our 
quality of life is more important," said Strawser. "We need to make 
sure it's the right thing for everybody; we need to weigh the pros and cons."

Police Chief Tim Foley said the current draft ordinance is a good fit 
for the city.

"It strikes a nice balance for people who have a need to grow 
marijuana for medical purposes and also take into the need of the 
neighborhood so they don't get impacted by the fragrance of marijuana 
from growth," Foley said.

The key thing is that the police department has the ability to 
inspect to ensure growers' compliance with the ordinance and to make 
sure that growers have the appropriate documentation, Foley said.

Both Phelps and Strawser said they would also consider input from the 
county and nearby cities when weighing their decisions.

City Attorney Hal DeGraw said some of the recommendations that 
planning commissioners made included a clarification on the types of 
dwelling units where cultivation is allowed.

"... and as to how the 600-foot distance requirement is to be 
measured from schools, childcare centers, and city parks and changes 
to delete requirements that grows could not occur on carpeted areas 
or in homes where minors reside," DeGraw said.

The proposed ordinance requires residents to obtain a cultivation 
permit from the city, as well as to pass an inspection by the police 
before initiating any indoor grows.

As a result of a Dec. 1 appellate court decision in Kirby v. County 
of Fresno, staff also recommended that the city take out a 
enforcement provision in the ordinance which criminalizes marijuana 
cultivation, DeGraw said.

In 2009, the city council approved an ordinance that prohibits all 
dispensaries in the city. But no law is currently in place to 
regulate marijuana cultivation and distribution.

Under the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, signed by Gov. 
Brown in October, local governments must enact their own marijuana 
land use regulations before March 1, otherwise such regulation would 
be left with the state. However, Assemblyman Jim Wood has since 
issued an open letter stating that deadline is an error and should be 
corrected by the Legislature.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom