Medical pot advocates oppose proposed Nevada Co. regulations

Alan Riquelmy
A look at a marijuana bud and leaves, as seen on an indoor plant.
Getty Images | iStockphoto

NEVADA CITY, Calif. — New proposed rules for medical marijuana grows in Nevada County led to anger on Tuesday as some medicinal cannabis proponents said they couldn’t support the new recommendations while urging supervisors to compromise.

County officials, however, said they had to consider environmental concerns and secure four out of five supervisor votes on July 26 to pass interim grow rules and repeal the existing outdoor grow ban.

An ad hoc marijuana grow committee met Tuesday in Nevada City for the third time in its attempts to craft an interim grow ordinance in the wake of Measure W’s failure. An advisory committee is expected to help write a permanent ordinance over the following months.

Grow advocates blanched when they saw the county’s recommendations — no residential grows; a maximum of 12 plants, in or outdoors, in residential agricultural parcels between 10 to 20 acres; and 20 outdoor plants on acres over 20 acres in the same zone.

Grows would be allowed in general agricultural, agricultural exclusive, forest and timberland production zones. The amount of plants would be limited by acreage, with none allowed under 2 acres, and no grow could have over 20 plants per parcel.

“Parts of this are more restrictive than the ban,” said Harry Bennett, a grower. “It’s more restrictive than what we just beat at the polls.”

Patricia Smith, president of the Nevada County chapter of Americans for Safe Access, suggested the two supervisors on the committee — Nate Beason and Hank Weston — were misrepresenting their constituents.

She noted that Measure W, which would have implemented a complete outdoor grow ban and limited indoor grows to 12 plants, failed on June 7.

An existing, supervisor-imposed ban remains in place.

“This is the way forward and we still seem to be mired in the past,” said Smith, who had recommended grows of up to 50 plants. “This is not what the people voted for.”

Jonathan Collier, chairman of the Nevada County California Growers Association, wants Nevada County to move toward regulating and permitting medical marijuana grows. He said that can’t happen if county officials have a prohibition mind set.

Creating those regulations takes time that supervisors say they don’t have. In February the supervisors passed a resolution of intent stating they would repeal the existing grow ban after the election’s certification.

That certification happened early this month. The next Board of Supervisors meeting is July 26.

County officials also say they have to contend with the California Environmental Quality Act, called CEQA.

Amanda Uhrhammer, an attorney with the county, said the size of grows requested by medical marijuana advocates couldn’t be exempt from CEQA. Because of that the county would have to make policies that show how environmental impacts are mitigated, and officials can’t create those rules by July 26.

Forrest Hurd, whose son Silas has intractable epilepsy and uses medical cannabis, said he couldn’t support the proposal.

“This keeps families like me criminal and that’s a big concern,” he said.

Smith predicted recall efforts could materialize if the proposal became law.

“I don’t support anything in this,” she said. “I think this is going to set off World War III.”

Uhrhammer noted the existing outdoor grow ban would remain in effect if supervisors fail on July 26 to garner at least four votes.

“We are trying to do the best we can,” Beason said.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.