Nevada Irrigation District manager: indoor marijuana growers will face new costs | SierraSun.com

Nevada Irrigation District manager: indoor marijuana growers will face new costs

Homeowners who want to cultivate their allotment of six marijuana plants indoors could face thousands of dollars in costs to create a separate water connection for their grow.

Remleh Scherzinger, general manager of the Nevada Irrigation District, told the community advisory group at its Tuesday, Aug. 8, meeting that people who grow cannabis in their homes must have another connection.

He cited possible back flow problems — water dedicated to a grow reentering NID’s system, contaminating it — as one reason for the requirement. No home’s water meter has a back flow prevention device on it, meaning an open connection exists between homes and the water system, Scherzinger said.

Additionally, Scherzinger said increased indoor use could impact his district’s ability to meet state water goals, which would lead to fines for the district.

“There is a significant threat to the water system by what’s happening in that garage,” Scherzinger said. “It doesn’t matter what you’re growing. If you’re growing corn in your living room, we’re going to sever your connection.”

Asked for an estimate, Scherzinger said it could cost between $15,000 to $50,000 for the additional connection.

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Proposition 64 gives property owners the right to grow six plants indoors, which local governments can regulate but not forbid. Cities and counties have much more leeway with outdoor grows.

Scherzinger said the district would face the equivalent of providing water to an extra 2,000 homes, if 10 percent of Nevada County homeowners had indoor grows. State officials claim that each plant needs six to 15 gallons a day, an amount disputed by some cannabis advocates.

“The grow in the garage is different from what the house is meant for,” Scherzinger said.

Scherzinger spoke at the marijuana group’s sixth meeting. The panel now will begin crafting recommendations for the county’s permanent cannabis ordinance. Those recommendations will reach supervisors late this year. Supervisors have said they want an ordinance in place by March.

Marijuana group panelists and the Board of Supervisors are scheduled to meet Sept. 5. At that meeting the board is expected to tell its priorities to the cannabis panel.

DOCTOR AND DEPUTY

The water district’s general manager was one of a handful of speakers who spoke at the Tuesday cannabis meeting. Others included Dr. Ken Cutler, the county’s public health officer.

According to Cutler, marijuana can reduce pain in people. However, little research exists because cannabis remains a Schedule I drug under federal law.

“It’s got promise for movement disorders, like Parkinson’s,” Cutler said, adding later, “Other things we know, that it can impair driving.”

Cutler suggested policy to the marijuana panel, asking it to consider the placement of advertising and the taxation of cannabis.

“Taxation makes a big difference in teen use,” Cutler said. “The more it costs, they less they use.”

Deputy Micah Arbaugh spoke to the marijuana group about enforcing the county’s cannabis ordinance. Assigned full time to the duty, Arbaugh said he wants to bridge the gap between people who despise cannabis and the people who grow it.

The county’s marijuana ordinance is driven by complaints. In some cases, growers will allow Arbaugh onto his or her property and willingly come into compliance. In others, Arbaugh places a letter asking the property owner to contact authorities and schedule a check.

According to Arbaugh, the sheriff’s office has received 152 complaints about marijuana this year. Out of those, people on 28 parcels self-abated 2,684 plants. Authorities issued nine citations.

“We are slammed,” Arbaugh said of the workload. “We can’t keep up.”