Marijuana grow discussion in Nevada County delayed until after election
September 26, 2016
NEVADA CITY, Calif. — Nevada County officials say they'll wait until after the Nov. 8 election before starting the process to develop new, permanent medical marijuana cultivation rules.
Proposition 64, one of several state measures on the ballot, would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults in California. Called the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, the measure has led county officials to delay the formation of a community advisory group that would focus on local, medical marijuana grows until after the vote.
"This is necessary to avoid conflicts with new laws, and to avoid moving in a direction that may be incompatible with the state regulations as they may exist after the November election," said Alison Barratt-Green, county counsel.
Supervisor Nate Beason, who served on the ad hoc committee that crafted the existing, temporary grow rules, said supervisors would appoint people to the advisory group.
Those appointees would then hear from various interest groups, like educators, growers and law enforcement, before delivering recommendations to the Board of Supervisors.
"They're going to have a voice," said Beason of growers. "We're not going to stack the deck."
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The county attorney also said officials are considering the use of a facilitator to help with the process of creating medical marijuana grow regulations for Nevada County.
Jonathan Collier, chairman of the Nevada County chapter of the California Growers Association, favors both the delay and the use of a facilitator. However, he wants new rules in place by March and the assurance any facilitator would be independent from the county.
"Someone who's not so deeply entrenched," Collier added.
Supervisors have made no decision on who will serve as facilitator, though it likely will be someone with a history of negotiation and mediation, Beason said.
Patricia Smith, chairwoman of the Nevada County chapter of Americans for Safe Access, also likes the idea of a facilitator, though she shares Collier's concerns about who is tapped for the job. Unlike Collier, Smith would prefer the community advisory group begin its work before the election.
"I don't really understand the need to wait until after November," she said. "We could be discussing things in the meantime."
Both Collier and Smith were involved in the ad hoc committee, along with Supervisors Hank Weston and Beason, that created the existing, temporary grow rules. Those rules were passed in the wake of Measure W's June 7 failure at the polls.
Measure W, if passed, would have restricted all outdoor grows and limited indoor grows to 12 plants.
Supervisors re-emphasized after Measure W's failure that they were committed to making those temporary grow rules and then forming a more robust process to implement permanent rules.
Barratt-Green said the county is committed to including all segments of the county in the advisory committee, ensuring that everyone has a voice.
"Once we settle on a process, the proposal will be presented to the full board for their approval," she 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.
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