A proposed county ordinance to regulate marijuana cultivation drew a standing-room-only audience to the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The push for such an ordinance stems from a large marijuana garden on an Annie Drive vacant lot in Alta Sierra, which sparked the formation of Nevada County Against Residential Cannabis Cultivation. The group has advocated for the ordinance and was in very visible attendance Tuesday.

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A sample ordinance was brought to the board by Sheriff Keith Royal; although the agenda item was for discussion only, public comment was allowed due to the high level of interest.

Royal emphasized the ordinance – which could limit the number of plants depending on zoning, as well as grows within 1,000 feet of areas where children gather – is only a template.

“We’re not here to take away a person’s right to medical marijuana,” Royal said. “We’re just trying to get a handle on it.”

More than two dozen people spoke Tuesday, seeming evenly split between those supporting the ordinance – albeit with some concerns – and those who felt it would unfairly penalize legitimate small growers.

Those in favor shared concerns with noise, traffic, crime and odor, as well as the harm to property values.

“Why can’t I be on certain parts of my own property during the growing season?” asked Maureen Detoy, who said the smell of marijuana causes her allergies to flare up. “Where are my rights?”

“I’d just like to get my neighborhood back,” said Frank Jackson, who advocated for a more restrictive ordinance.

Several growers and medical marijuana patients spoke, telling supervisors they obey the law and arguing the proposed ordinance would be unduly restrictive.

“The ordinance is very Draconian,” said Robert Steuber, disabled since birth. “It throws the baby out with the bathwater, and I’m one of the babies.”

“This would do nothing to curb large commercial grows,” said Jedediah Biagi. “So what’s the point? It would only make it more difficult and expensive for legitimate patients to obtain their medicine.”

Several in the audience brought up the economic impact of restricting marijuana grows – which Nevada City Council member Reinette Senum called “the elephant in the room.”

“A lot of business owners have come to me, telling me, this crop is keeping us afloat right now,” Senum said, proposing an economic impact study.

The supervisors put the ball back in Royal’s court, telling him to move forward with a draft ordinance. Royal indicated the process could take as long as four months and said he would reach out to the various special interest groups.

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“We’re looking for a middle ground,” he said.

Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2011 The Union
Contact: TheUnion.com Online News | Grass Valley Nevada County California
Website: TheUnion.com Online News | Grass Valley Nevada County California