Medical marijuana proponents to file initiative to overturn cultivation ordinance |

Medical marijuana proponents to file initiative to overturn cultivation ordinance

On Monday, Americans for Safe Access Nevada County plans to file a request for a special election to replace the current medical marijuana cultivation ordinance with the Safe Cultivation Act of Nevada County.

The controversial ordinance was passed in May 2012 by the county Board of Supervisors in order to regulate legal grows from a nuisance standpoint; it limits the size of grows depending on zoning, setbacks and plot size and imposes other restrictions, such as security fencing.

A Nevada County Superior Court judge refused to block the ordinance in late July 2012, and a suit filed by ASA-Nevada County was recently dismissed by Nevada County Superior Court Judge Sean Dowling.

The dismissal was expected after the California Supreme Court recently ruled, in a unanimous decision, to affirm local jurisdictions’ legal right to manage medical marijuana through land use and zoning. The court said neither the state’s voter-approved law legalizing medical marijuana nor a companion measure adopted by the Legislature prevent local governments from using land-use and zoning powers to prohibit storefront dispensaries.

The ruling came in a legal challenge to a ban enacted by the city of Riverside in 2010.

ASA-Nevada County has been working to draft the language for the group’s ballot initiative, which founder Patricia Smith said she will file with the county elections office Monday.

According to Smith, state laws already exist that make large commercial grows illegal.

“This ordinance was designed to restrict small medical growers who are following state law,” she said in a press release. “Some medical marijuana collectives have been cited for growing as few as 12 plants on large ag-zoned parcels.

“The provisions of the ordinance are so prohibitive as to amount to a de facto ban,” Smith continued.

According to Smith, a survey that her group conducted revealed that more than 70 percent of the registered voters polled thought the cultivation ordinance was overreaching.

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