Nevada Co. Sheriff opinion: Marijuana ballot measure a critical decision | SierraSun.com

Nevada Co. Sheriff opinion: Marijuana ballot measure a critical decision

Keith Royal
Opinion

Editor’s note

Visit bit.ly/1R9LIVv to access the Nevada County Elections page, where you can learn more about Measure W, which is on the June 7 primary ballot.

Back in 2012, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors adopted an Ordinance that established regulations to minimize the nuisance issues associated with marijuana cultivation within our county.

This effort came about as a result of numerous complaints within the community regarding the nuisance impacts by marijuana cultivation with the communities. We attempted to bring the different parties together in an effort to find middle ground, but were unsuccessful on a number of issues.

As a result, the Board passed an ordinance that set parameters in an effort to reduce the nuisance impacts on the community. Since that time, complaints have increased with many individuals asking advice, but fearful to make formal complaints, in fear of retribution.

During our investigation of complaints, we found not only were the growers not cultivating within the guidelines, but were in fact growing tremendously large gardens in the hopes they would not be detected or complained about.

Additionally, we found that the gardens were exploding in numbers in Nevada County, because other jurisdictions were banning outdoor cultivation to control nuisance issues, and as a result, these growers were told Nevada County is an “open county” for growing marijuana.

The direct nuisance impacts of marijuana cultivation include obnoxious odors, increased crime, increased traffic, poisoning of wildlife including bears and deer, theft and contamination of potable and riparian water sources, huge gardens, trash and open privies, and unpermitted mobile homes, trailers and other structures on vacant land.

Also, impacts include increased access and exposure to children, fires and threat of fires due to improper electrical sources and generators on dry brush, and negative impacts on the environment from unpermitted grading and clearing of land and use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides that leech into the water systems.

Our experience in conducting inspections regarding violations of county marijuana cultivation ordinance is that these gardens are about making money and not about providing medicinal marijuana. I encourage readers go to visit our webpage to view the Marijuana PowerPoint Presentation — bit.ly/25Mkiiq — to view actual pictures found during these investigations.

Nuisance complaints regarding marijuana are considered civil violations and not crimes. In processing those complaints that were made to the Board and the Sheriff’s Office, we found the existing regulations were insufficient to effectively investigate and resolve in a timely fashion, and based on the experience and successes of other jurisdictions, felt that banning outdoor cultivation and limiting indoor cultivation to permitted structures would give us greater control to effectively reduce nuisance complaints in the community.

Currently, over 100 cities and counties in California have banned outdoor marijuana cultivation.

Based upon the community’s outcry, I felt compelled to bring forward a proposed new ordinance that would better regulate and effectively reduce nuisance complaints regarding marijuana.

We believe that the new ordinance does provide a balance between one’s access and ability to grow for medical needs, as well as protecting the quality of life issues of those living near the marijuana cultivation.

The new ordinance allows for 12 marijuana plants to be grown indoors, either within a permitted structure or greenhouse, or within the non-living area space of a residence which could include an attached garage. Twelve plants grown indoors could provide, based on our experience, 1Ž2 ounces to 1 pound of marijuana per plant. Additionally, a grower in an indoor environment could grow between 3-4 crops per year, and as such, anticipate between 18 and 48 pounds of marijuana over the course of the year.

Additionally, I recently had discussions with a corporate executive for Livwell, the largest marijuana corporation in Colorado, who explained to me that indoor cultivation, specifically for CBD Cannabis plants, was best done indoors. By doing so, he indicated you could best control the environment and production, not use pesticides, and continually grow throughout the year.

Lastly, he felt it was the most financially feasible method for growing quality marijuana for medical use. Growing indoors does provide a balance for the community and marijuana growers.

The bottom line is this ordinance is about protecting the quality of life in our communities by minimizing the nuisance issues caused by marijuana cultivation.

In June, the Nevada County public will have the ability to vote on whether or not they support this new ordinance. Please consider what type of County you want Nevada County to look like for your children and grandchildren to grow up in.

Furthermore, what types of businesses do you want to start up or relocate here? This will be a critical decision for our community.

Keith Royal is the Nevada County sheriff. Email him at keith.royal@co.nevada.ca.us.