Debate on Measure S intensifies
September 4, 2014
Accusations of errors, distortions and thefts are already surfacing in both camps for and against Measure S, the revised medical marijuana cultivation ordinance on the Nov. 4 Nevada County ballot.
And that's just for the first week in September.
"There's no shortage of opinions, that's for sure," said KVMR-Radio News Director Paul Emery, who said he is remaining publicly neutral on the issue for professional reasons.
"When the (county) board of supervisors first passed the current ordinance, they implied they would be revisiting it and refining it," Emery said. "Measure S is a response to that by asking voters to make changes in the current ordinance."
KVMR, which airs locally on 89.5 FM, and The Union will cover and broadcast live what promises to be a very lively debate on Measure S. The debate is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 23. The location is still in flux, but when confirmed, it will be published in The Union, on KVMR and on the website for Americans for Safe Access — Nevada County, a Measure S sponsor.
Rebane's Ruminations, a blog published by George Rebane of Nevada City, also contains information and discussion on Measure S, as well as a new spreadsheet comparing the current and proposed revised ordinance compiled by Rebane's wife, Jo Ann Rebane.
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Jo Ann Rebane, second vice president and legislative chair of Nevada County Republican Women Federated, this week identified a significant error in a similar comparison spreadsheet prepared by the "Yes on S" campaign and published last month in an article in The Union.
"Contrary to the copy provided by Measure S proponents, the proposed new marijuana ordinance does not require the use of a solid fence with a locked gate to obscure marijuana being grown outside," Rebane said. "Nowhere in the Measure S text do the words fence or locked gate appear, nor is there any specification regarding fence height or materials."
Patricia Smith, chair of the "Yes on S" campaign, said she had originally written into the ordinance the specifics on fencing as detailed in the "Yes on S" spreadsheet.
Smith acknowledged that the fencing requirement language was shortened at the last minute in the final version of Measure S due to lack of space. She said the intent remains the same, but the specifics were removed.
"We had to fit it into a prescribed form, but the intent is still there," she said. "The whole idea is to protect the public."
In the actual proposed ordinance, it says: "Marijuana shall not be visible from the public view at any stage of growth when viewed from ground level."
Smith said she "takes the blame" for the discrepancy between the actual ordinance and the comparison spreadsheet published by "Yes on S" and reprinted in The Union.
But she says the Measure S language regarding fencing is "more encompassing" because it applies only to visibility, "no matter how high the plants are."
"I think the county ordinance went a little too far in demanding that everyone had to have fencing," Smith added.
Jo Ann Rebane, in an "Other Voices" column to be published in The Union, says the current ordinance should stand because "it has enforcement, appeal and abatement provisions, and provides the community a means to alleviate nuisance marijuana 'grows' and encourages those who legitimately grow it for their personal medical use to be good neighbors."
Meanwhile, a war of campaign signs is being waged. Smith said her "Yes on S" signs on McCourtney Road from Beyers Lane to the Banner Grange have been taken down three times — the last two times, they were stolen.
"I think it's very immature, very high-schoolish," Smith said.
Measure S opponents have posted their own signs at Nevada County Republican Party headquarters at the Fowler Center in Grass Valley.
The signs allege that "marijuana grows use more water than fracking" and that the "typical marijuana plant is 20 feet tall — would you want this in your backyard?"
Smith called the GOP signs "distortions" of fact.
She said an average plant is between 6 and 12 feet tall. As to water, Smith said "Yes on S" was very concerned about water thefts now taking place in Nevada County — particularly in the San Juan Ridge area.
"Our reward for information leading to the capture of suspects in those thefts has grown to $750," Smith said.
William Clark of Grass Valley said people who are on the fence should actually read the ordinances and the relevant state statutes on medical marijuana.
"Unfortunately, the arguments, on each side, are just that," he said in an email. "The claims stated in each argument are not legally binding and in some cases can stretch or misconstrue the intent of an ordinance."
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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