Pubdate: Mon, 30 May 2016
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Union
Author: Andrew Wilson
Note: Andrew Wilson lives in Nevada City.


In his search for "clarity" in his guest column, Bob Hren ought to 
start with the false premise on which the outdoor cultivation ban was 
based - that an emergency ordinance was needed to provide Sheriff 
Royal the additional "tools" needed to deal with "large" outdoor 
marijuana grows.

The outdoor growing ban was part of an emergency ordinance, which 
amended Nevada County's Medical Marijuana Cultivation ordinance which 
had been in effect since 2012. That ordinance set limits on indoor 
and outdoor grows, established procedures for issuing and contesting 
abatement notices.

It also included a summary abatement procedure which allowed 
immediate abatement the event of an immediate threat to the public welfare.

The 2016 emergency ordinance does not give the sheriff or the county 
any additional "tools" or powers.

The only material difference between the 2012 ordinance and the 2016 
emergency ordinance is that the 2012 ordinance permits outdoor grows 
of up to 1,000 square feet, while the 2016 emergency ordinance bans 
outdoor grows entirely and places additional limits on the indoor 
grows allowed by the 2012 ordinance.

The 2016 emergency ordinance did not change the character of the 
illegal grows or increase the severity of any penalties.

It did not make illegal grows more illegal; it simply created more 
illegal grows.

The main argument in support of the ban is that the sheriff had 
difficulty determining whether there was probable cause to believe 
that a particular outdoor grow was larger than 1,000 square feet. If 
that is true, then the large, destructive grows which Supervisors 
Weston and Miller describe in their defense of the ban must have been 
small enough that there was some question as to whether they were 
larger than 1,000 square feet. As we all know, there were numerous 
outdoor grows which clearly exceeded the maximum permitted size and 
the ban gives the sheriff no additional tools to combat those grows.

If the 1,000 square foot limitation was a problem in combating 
"large" grows, that ceiling could have been lowered.

Proponents of the ban do not foster clarity by trumpeting the ills of 
marijuana, whether their claims are true or false.

Evidence that marijuana is a "good" medicine or a "bad" drug, that it 
causes or cures cancer, or even that it turns Nevada County teens 
into maladjusted stoners, has nothing to do with whether the 2016 
emergency ordinance will do what its proponents claim.

Mr. Hren muddies rather than clarifies the waters by pointing to 
alleged incidents in which growers delayed abatement and argues that 
"by banning all outdoor grows, abatement can and will be done 
immediately upon arrival of the sheriff." Mr. Hren either ignores or 
is ignorant of the fact that this summary abatement procedure was 
part of the 2012 ordinance and was not changed by the 2016 emergency 
ordinance. So far, the sheriff has wisely refrained from using those 
summary procedures. Perhaps he is taking a lesson from Lake County 
which employed similar summary abatement procedures against grows on 
private property.

These procedures were subsequently enjoined as unconstitutional by 
the federal court in Allen v. County of Lake. A similar fate likely 
awaits Nevada County if our sheriff fulfills Mr. Hren's expectation.

The solution to the problem does not lie in a new law but in the 
unfortunately novel approach of enforcing existing laws. The first 
priority should be to target any and all grows on public land. There 
is complete agreement on all sides of the debate that these grows are 
the most environmentally destructive and present the greatest risk to 
public safety.

None of these grows are even arguably legal under the 2012 ordinance, 
nor can any argument be made that they are exempt from state or 
federal criminal laws. No new "tools" are needed to combat these 
grows only good old fashioned police work. And, where grows are 
located on public lands, the sheriff should absolutely employ summary 
abatement procedures. The constitutional guarantees against unlawful 
searches and seizures which Lake County ran afoul of in summarily 
abating grows on private property do not apply to grows on public land.

An equal priority should be promptly responding to and investigating 
complaints from citizens and issuing abatement notices if warranted. 
If there is any doubt, an abatement notice should be issued and any 
issues should be resolved in the hearing process.

The third priority should be to investigate potentially illegal grows 
on private property which come to the attention of law enforcement 
from other sources, including the infamous helicopter overflights. 
These should be investigated and abatement notices issued where warranted.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom