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March 26, 2013
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Pot ordinance highlights Nevada County supervisors meeting

The Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance is back in front of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors.

Since the ordinance was approved by a 4-1 vote (with Supervisor Terry Lamphier dissenting) last May, both supporters and opponents have been squabbling in and out of court over the legality of certain items of the ordinance.

Assistant County Counsel Marcos Kropf recently proposed “several minor and narrowly tailored technical amendments” to the ordinance, according to supporting documents to Tuesday’s board agenda. The amendments relate to the ability to operate collectives and the point person for appeal hearings, which were major talking points during the two robustly attended public hearings on the ordinance last year.

“The issue we wanted to clarify is that one can collectively cultivate as long as there is one person living on the property,” Kropf said earlier this year.

On March 25, Jeffrey Lake, attorney for the Nevada County chapter of Americans for Safe Access, released a response, saying the amendments were insufficient, and recommended several additional changes. Alterations to the ordinance should include elimination of the requirement that a parcel upon which medical marijuana is being cultivated should be the primary residence of at least one member of a collective.

The rule, said Lake, is “unclear, unnecessary and overly burdensome,” Lake said.

The section of the ordinance is intended to prevent individuals from growing marijuana on vacant property, Kropf said earlier this month.

Collectives have long been a point of contention between safe access and county officials.

Patricia Smith, president of the local chapter of Safe Access, said in months following the ordinance’s passage last year that the county was “using nuisance as a vehicle to ban collectives,” which harmed the very people that Proposition 215 was intended to serve.

Safe Access sued the county, and Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling said last year the court would be willing to entertain the complaint that relates to the possibility the ordinance may unlawfully prohibit collectives.

In his March 25 release, Lake said the county is proposing the amendments as a direct result of Dowling’s ruling and the pressure exerted by Safe Access’ case.

Kropf and Nevada County Counsel Alison Barratt-Green downplayed the direct cause-and-effect relationship earlier this month, saying the ordinance had always allowed for collectives to operate but needed clarification.

“A qualified patient may also cultivate medical marijuana as a bona fide member of a Medical Marijuana Collective, on a legal parcel or premises that is occupied, and serves as the primary legal residence for at least one of its members,” the amended section of the ordinance reads.

The ordinance still regulates the amount of marijuana that can legally be cultivated in proportion to the size of the parcel.

Lake said the regulation fails to provide individuals and collectives sufficient means to meet their medical needs.

“The prohibition of medical marijuana cultivation within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop and school evacuation sight is unnecessary and unclear because those sites constantly change,” Lake says in the release. “The fencing requirements as currently drafted are intended to resolve two important issues: security and visibility. However, as currently drafted, the fencing requirements are overly burdensome and unnecessary to achieve these goals.”

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or 530-477-4239.

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The Union Updated Mar 26, 2013 01:44PM Published Mar 26, 2013 02:55PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.