Nevada County says ‘no’ to Measure S | TheUnion.com

Nevada County says ‘no’ to Measure S

Keri Brenner
Staff Writer

Measure S, Nevada County's medical marijuana cultivation initiative on Tuesday's ballot, appeared heading for defeat in unofficial results.

With 84 of 84 precincts reporting, "No" votes were running 15,128, or 69.11 percent, to 6,762 "Yes" votes or 30.89 percent. Election officials said there were still more than 10,000 vote-by-mail ballots to be counted.

"I was somewhat resolved that this might happen, but it's worse than I imagined," said "Yes on S" leader Patricia Smith, adding that she hoped to see more "Yes" votes come in when the returns from Truckee were counted.

"I feel we did the best we could," she said. "Whatever the results are, we'll pick ourselves up and set our sights on (the likely statewide marijuana legalization ballot measure in) 2016 …"

“I was somewhat resolved that this might happen, but it’s worse than I imagined.”
“Yes on S” leader Patricia Smith

Smith said she "knew pretty much we were dead in the water" when she read the sample ballot and saw the ballot label that Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling said "missed the mark" in terms of impartiality. Then, she said, a delay in mailing the voters guides resulted in some people receiving their vote-by-mail ballots before they got to read the arguments for and against Measure S.

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"The whole thing was so botched and so badly handled that the results are not very surprising," Smith said.

Measure S was portrayed by detractors as a loosening of enforcement and regulations from the current county-endorsed cultivation ordinance. "No on S" spokespeople said it would lead to an expansion of pot grow areas and more illegal garden operations. County officials said the current ordinance was working well and had reduced complaints.

"Yes on S" backers, however, dismissed those assessments, saying that Measure S would not have been needed if the county had been willing to amend its ordinance to allow medical marijuana growers to be in compliance.

They said the county ordinance was made so that it would be impossible to follow and be in compliance.

Supporters said Measure S would move more of the medical marijuana grow areas away from neighborhoods into larger agricultural properties where the plants would be away from neighbors.

In those larger plots, the medical plants could be grown as a collective for patients who could not grow for themselves, backers said.

Measure S would limit grows to six plants per patient, as opposed to the current ordinance, which limits the medical marijuana grow areas by square footage.

Measure S backers said they removed the county's current enforcement regulations from Measure S so that Nevada County law enforcement officials could enact their own enforcement code section, and could refine it easily by ordinance amendment.

If the enforcement section were included as part of the Measure S initiative, any changes would require a new ballot measure, Measure S supporters said.

The Measure S campaign has been rife with almost continual controversy — up to and including Tuesday's delivery of a state Fair Political Practices Commission ruling on a complaint against Nevada County officials filed by Measure S supporters.

Smith, in commenting on the ruling, characterized the campaign as full of "partisanship activities" and a "nightmare." Nevada County Supervisor Chairman Nate Beason described the "Yes on S" campaign as "one falsehood and red herring after another."

Besides the FPPC complaint, the battle has included a Nevada County Superior Court complaint over language in the ballot label, a public fight over debate locations, alleged sign stealing, inflammatory blogs, negative ads, letters to the editor, opposing opinion pieces and an earlier fight over petition signatures.

To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email kbrenner@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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