Greyson Howard, Kyle Magin and Michelle Rindels
Staff Writers

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October 28, 2010
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Medi-pot stances firm ahead legalization measure

Nevada County's municipalities have taken a hard line on medical marijuana dispensaries this year.

City councils in Grass Valley and Nevada City, as well as Nevada County supervisors, all either have passed or extended moratoriums on medical dispensaries in the past year.

Officials are now keeping a close eye on Proposition 19, which would allow the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use, and allows local governments to control the sale of marijuana and tax the revenues. The initiative appears on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Grass Valley doesn't have any zoning that expressly allows a medical marijuana dispensary, but first passed a 45-day urgency ordinance banning them, then extended it to two years in spring 2009.

"The prohibition is set to expire in April, so it needs to come back before then, whether or not Prop. 19 passes," said City Administrator Dan Holler.

City Council members passed a similar urgency ordinance this week, this time to temporarily prohibit sale, growth and use of marijuana should Proposition 19 pass on Nov. 2, giving the city time to come up with a more permanent solution.

If it does pass, medical dispensaries would be addressed at the same time, Holler said. If not, they would be addressed before April.

"We'll either have to have a true moratorium on the books, or say you can have dispensaries in one of these three zones, or it will have to have these restrictions," Holler said. "You want to look at everything from they're allowed in any retail zone to totally banned."

After prolonged debate, Nevada City approved an ordinance in December 2009 to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. Council members Sally Harris, David McKay and Robert Bergman voted in favor of the ordinance, while Reinette Senum and Barbara Coffman opposed it.

The ordinance states "there is no satisfactory location available" within city limits for a dispensary.

Nevada County bans any medical marijuana dispensary from operating in its unincorporated boundaries on an interim basis. The county's supervisors directed county planning staff to draft an ordinance extending the ban permanently in July.

Planning staff brought the ordinance before the county Planning Commission Thursday, where discussion on it was tabled for legal review.

If Prop. 19 passes, the dispensary ban would hold, said Planning Director Jory Stewart. It does not deal with the sale or possession of recreational marijuana, she said.

In Truckee, existing zoning doesn't allow for medical marijuana dispensaries, which hasn't been challenged so far, said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook.

"That's the interpretation of the existing code, and it's stood the test of time," Lashbrook said.

As for the possibility of Prop. 19 passing, Lashbrook said local communities will have the ability to do what they want regarding ordinances.

"We'll wait and see what happens," Lashbrook said.

To contact the writers, e-mail them at ghoward@theunion.com, kmagin@theunion.com or mrindels@theunion.com.


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The Union Updated Oct 28, 2010 11:49PM Published Oct 28, 2010 11:46PM Copyright 2010 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.