Medical marijuana advocate arrested by Nevada County narcotics task force
A vocal medical marijuana advocate and strong proponent of Measure S, the upcoming ballot measure proposing revisions to the Nevada County medical marijuana cultivation ordinance, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of criminal charges by Nevada County Narcotics Task Force agents.
Brad Peceimer, 53, of Alta Sierra, a consulting engineer, was taken into custody in handcuffs and booked at the county’s Wayne Brown Correctional Facility on suspicion of one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest and obstructing an investigation and one felony count of violating the state medical marijuana cultivation law after agents served a search warrant at his Brewer Road home.
Peceimer, whose bail was set at $10,000 for the felony and $750 for the misdemeanor, is expected to be released Thursday, said his attorney Stephen Munkelt.
“Mr. Peceimer was engaged in completely lawful cultivation of medical marijuana,” Munkelt said. “We’re confident this will be established once the case is (in) the court system.”
Munkelt also hinted that politics could be playing a part in the charges against his client due to the increasingly heated debate over Measure S as the Nov. 4 election draws closer.
According to Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal, the felony charge refers to an allegation that task force agents found identical sets of medical recommendations allowing cultivation of medical marijuana at two sites owned by Peceimer — one at his home in Alta Sierra and the other in North San Juan.
“Double posting violates the state law,” Royal said. “The (county) District Attorney’s office said it’s not legal.”
In addition, Royal said Peceimer, who was featured in The Union earlier this year for his innovative underground house design, refused to let officers in the home to conduct the search. When Peceimer first answered the door, he allegedly told the agents that his wife was coming out of the shower and asked them to wait, Royal said.
“They waited a few minutes, and then knocked at the door again and asked to come in,” Royal said. “He resisted, and they wrestled him to the ground and put on handcuffs.”
Munkelt, noting that Peceimer has no prior arrest record and has government security clearance due to his work, disagreed with that narrative.
“The information I have is that Mr. Peceimer demanded to see a search warrant before he would allow officers to enter,” Munkelt said. “When they didn’t present it, and he wouldn’t step out of the way, they threw him to the ground and put handcuffs on him.” According to Munkelt, the officers “didn’t show a search warrant until two hours later, after they were done with search, and then they gave it to his wife,” he said.
Royal, meanwhile, said Peceimer’s North San Juan grow also violated the current Nevada County medical marijuana cultivation ordinance by having too small of a growing area. However, the arrest on criminal charges was not tied to the county ordinance, which calls for only civil penalties.
In addition to Peceimer’s arrest, agents eradicated the marijuana garden that was growing outside at Peceimer’s home, so as to eliminate one of the two growing sites in compliance with state law, Royal said.
The agents left the North San Juan site intact, but issued an abatement order for violations of the county cultivation ordinance. Peceimer will have five days to abate the North San Juan site by reducing the square footage.
According to Royal, Peceimer allegedly had 200 1-foot-tall clones, or cuttings of female plants, growing indoors on Brewer Road, and 21 10-foot-tall plants growing outdoors.
It was not immediately clear whether his home property was larger than the 2-acre minimum cutoff size for outdoor growing under terms of the ordinance.
The outdoor garden was eliminated only based on the state law’s prohibition against having two growing sites with identical medical recommendations — and was not related to the county ordinance, Royal said.
At the North San Juan site, Peceimer allegedly had 48 plants of between 3 and 6 feet in height growing over 900 square feet. The ordinance calls for a maximum grow area of 600 square feet, Royal said.
After Peceimer is released, he will be given a date to appear for a hearing and arraignment in about five weeks at Nevada County Superior Court. Munkelt said it will be up to the Nevada County District Attorney’s office to decide whether to file any charges.
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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