Medical pot meeting: Nevada Co. supervisor Miller closes door to media | SierraSun.com

Medical pot meeting: Nevada Co. supervisor Miller closes door to media

NEVADA CITY, Calif. — Nevada County Supervisor Dan Miller opted to close the first meeting between officials and medical marijuana advocates to the media, citing the inability to hold frank discussions about marijuana grow regulations with reporters present.

Grow supporters, however, argue the media should be present to make the proceedings more transparent.

Miller, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said it would be "inappropriate" for media to attend the June 15 meeting with marijuana grow stakeholders.

"We can't be open and frank in our discussions," Miller said last week before the meeting. "We can't be honest."

Patricia Smith, president of the Nevada County chapter of Americans for Safe Access, was one of the stakeholders planning to attend the meeting.

"Frankly, I don't understand that attitude at all," Smith said before the June 15 meeting. "I thought the whole point was to allow transparency."

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Jonathan Collier, chairman of the Nevada County California Growers Association, agrees.

"We were going to really force the transparency issue," he said.

The meeting fell in the wake of the apparent failure on June 7 of Measure W, which if passed would have implemented an outdoor medical marijuana grow ban and limited indoor grows to 12 plants throughout Nevada County.

A similar, supervisor-imposed ban remains in place. Supervisors have said they'd rescind their ban if Measure W failed, once the vote was certified.

Elections officials have until July 7 to certify the vote. Some 17,000 votes remain uncounted as of last week.

According to Smith, she along with at least two other grow advocates were scheduled to meet June 15 with Supervisors Hank Weston and Miller, as well as Sheriff Keith Royal and possibly a Nevada Irrigation District employee.

Supervisors have no requirement to open the meeting to the media or public, because a majority of the board won't be present.

Miller said the meeting marked the first time officials will gather with a limited number of grow stakeholders since W failed.

Collier envisions at least two meetings. A second meeting would potentially have more people to give input on the future of grow regulations in Nevada County.

"This really is a land-use issue," he said.

Collier wants a placeholder ordinance, like the 2012 regulations, to replace the supervisor ban in the interim. The new regulations would then supersede the placeholder ordinance once completed.

The 2012 ordinance allowed outdoor grows, but limited their square footage. Sheriff Keith Royal has pointed to the difficulty of enforcing that ordinance as a reason to ban all outdoor grows.

According to Collier, that ordinance failed because no grower input occurred.

Collier emphasized his wish to develop regulations that are compliant with the state's Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, the sweeping new law passed last year that created a statewide regulatory framework for medical marijuana.

"We do want to move forward with real solutions for the entire community," Collier said.

Alan Riquelmy is a staff writer with The Union newspaper, a sister paper of the Sierra Sun that serves Nevada City, Grass Valley and other communities in the Sierra Foothills.