Pubdate: Mon, 27 Jun 2016
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Union
Author: Alan Riquelmy


Medical marijuana advocates bristled at a Monday meeting over 
suggested grow regulations, saying the proposed plant count 
restrictions go too far.

Grow supporters also opposed the creation of a per-plant, per-day 
fine for violators of any new marijuana ordinance, though some 
advocates indicated they'd support the fines if their implementation 
was postponed a year.

"We're trying to find a balance," Supervisor Nate Beason said.

County officials on Monday presented possible regulations to the ad 
hoc committee that will help craft an interim grow ordinance. The 
committee is scheduled to meet again on July 12. The Board of 
Supervisors is scheduled to vote July 26 on the new ordinance.

The regulations introduced Monday included prohibiting indoor and 
outdoor grows in residential zones and restricting the number of 
plants by the size of the property.

Grow supporters immediately objected to the plant restriction.

"This is penalizing us," said Patricia Smith, president of the Nevada 
County chapter of Americans for Safe Access (ASA). "This is going 
backward. Six plants on 10 acres? I mean, come on."

The county's suggested regulations call for a maximum of six plants 
on 2 to 5 acres, and 16 plants on more than 20 acres.

Smith, in recommendations developed by her group, suggested allowing 
three to six plants in certain residential zones, provided they're in 
greenhouses and the grower has a variance from the county and 
neighbors' permission.

ASA's recommendations for agricultural, forest and timberland 
production zones call for 12 plants on property up to 5 acres, 18 
plants on property up to 10 acres and 50 plants on 20 or more acres.

Forrest Hurd, whose son Silas has intractable epilepsy and uses 
medicinal marijuana, said any new ordinance should protect vulnerable 
families such as his own.

"A six-plant count wouldn't get my 9-year-old through three months," Hurd said.

None of the proposed regulations discussed Monday were implemented. 
The county's outdoor grow ban and indoor 12-plant limitation remain in effect.

Grow supporters also chafed at a proposed monetary fine for having 
plants over the allowed amount. Smith called a per-plant, per-day 
fine structure prohibitive.

Jonathan Collier, chairman of the Nevada County California Growers 
Association, noted growers already were about halfway through the 
grow season. He suggested delaying any fines until next year.

"We want to solve the community's problems," Collier added.

Monday's meeting was the second time grow advocates and county 
officials gathered to develop an interim grow ordinance after the 
June 7 failure of Measure W. That initiative, if it had passed, would 
have cemented the existing supervisor ban into one implemented by voters.

Measure W's failure led to the creation of the ad hoc committee 
composed of grow advocates, law enforcement, county counsel and two 
supervisors. The group wants to have an interim marijuana grow 
ordinance drafted by mid-July, which would provide enough public 
notice before supervisors vote July 26 on its adoption.

Four out of five supervisors must approve the ordinance, which if 
passed would immediately become effective. Supervisors also intend to 
rescind their existing grow ban.

County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green said she feared an ordinance that 
allowed large grows could trigger the California Environmental 
Quality Act, called CEQA. The act requires local governments to 
identify environmental impacts and mitigate them, if necessary.

Barratt-Green said that limiting the number of plants allowed under 
the ordinance could exempt it from the CEQA process. A 50-plant 
allowance could trigger the act, she said.

The county attorney also emphasized the need to quickly draft the 
ordinance, noting no group would secure all their favored regulations 
in the interim.

Instead the group would continue to meet after the interim 
ordinance's adoption and craft a permanent set of regulations. That 
process could take a year.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom