Why we need a special election
August 31, 2013
If you've been to any public event lately, you are probably aware that Americans for Safe Access-Nevada County is leading a petition drive that would allow the voters to accept or reject a more compassionate cannabis cultivation ordinance that is sponsored by our organization.
I apologize if we have asked some of you to sign our petition at multiple events.
Some have questioned whether our volunteers are being paid to gather signatures, and the answer is no.
All of our volunteers have given their time freely, although we do offer incentives like concert and raffle tickets to keep up morale.
We cannot wait for a general election when the sheriff’s department is using the cultivation ordinance as a pretext to enter properties without justification … and to interpret the ordinance as they go without issuing clear guidelines.
This issue has united people from opposite ends of the political spectrum judging by the mountains of new voter registration cards we have gathered.
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Even people who don't support patient rights are joining us because of violations against private property rights and the wasteful use of taxpayers' dollars that are being spent to support prohibition — which has neither lowered supply nor demand but has incarcerated record numbers of nonviolent offenders.
Our initiative would replace the current cultivation ordinance that sets artificial square-foot restrictions on the size of the garden and would go back to state-sanctioned six plants per qualified patient.
We actually adopt the state minimum threshold as our maximum allowance. Our initiative would also restrict outdoor cultivation on R-1, R-2 and R-3 zoned parcels. You can read the whole initiative at http://asa-nc.com.
The current restrictions don't just mark the outside dimensions of the garden. They include the height and width of a plant and the ground space separating the plants from each other.
You must cut the tops and sides of your plants if they extend past this invisible barrier.
The problem is that the best medicine is located in the tops and tips of the plant.
Sheriff Royal has stated that square-foot restrictions are necessary because some cannabis plants grow to the size of giant Sequoia trees.
Although some Cannabis Sativa plants can reach heights of 14 feet or more, this is the exception rather than the rule, and his depiction is a gross exaggeration of the average plant being grown in Nevada County.
It really is a shame that our board of supervisors has steadfastly refused to mediate with stakeholders to find a solution that would meet the needs of patients while safeguarding the rights of neighbors to the quiet enjoyment of their properties.
Despite the fact that we voted for Prop 215 and poll after poll shows that we still support medical marijuana, our board believes that it knows what is best for us.
Special elections are necessary when our elected officials refuse to represent their constituents' needs.
We cannot wait for a general election when the sheriff's department is using the cultivation ordinance as a pretext to enter properties without justification, red-tag homes, conduct unlawful searches and to interpret the ordinance as they go without issuing clear guidelines.
ASA-NC again calls on the supervisors to accept our initiative and spare us all the cost of a special election.
Even worse are the missed opportunities that occur by opposing each other rather than working toward a creative win-win solution.
Case in point are the illegal grows taking place in our national forests that are polluting our watershed and destroying wildlife.
ASA supports organic growing methods to ensure the safest level of medicine is being produced for human consumption.
Surely this is an area where we could work together.
If you are still sitting on the fence about the effectiveness of marijuana as a medicine, I urge you to watch two remarkable films that I guarantee will change your mind.
First is "What if Cannabis Cured Cancer," by Len Richmond, and the second is the CNN documentary, "Weed," by Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
A quick Google search will turn up links to both of these videos. I defy any parent to reject the cannabis therapy that spared young Charlotte Figi from suffering from more than 300 epileptic seizures a month.
Indeed, cannabis was the only medication that brought relief and controlled her symptoms.
After you see the effectiveness of medical marijuana for yourself, I hope you will join the thousands of people who have already signed our petition.
There may come a time when you or a loved one will need this medicine, and we hope that it will still available when you do.
Patricia Smith is the chair of Americans for Safe Access, Nevada County.