Nevada County supervisors tweak marijuana ballot language, say they’ll repeal ban if June vote fails |

Nevada County supervisors tweak marijuana ballot language, say they’ll repeal ban if June vote fails

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved tweaks to a marijuana initiative scheduled for the June ballot, seeking to make the language of the measure easier to understand.

The board also unanimously approved a resolution of intention stating that if the ballot measure fails, then supervisors would repeal an existing ban on outdoor grows and work with stakeholders to develop regulations.

Both votes came after a lengthy public comment period weighted heavily with grow supporters. The large crowd filled the Board of Supervisors’ chambers, though it fell short of the massive group that gathered for the board’s Jan. 12 meeting when the existing outdoor ban was implemented.

Speakers overwhelmingly opposed an outright ban on outdoor marijuana grows, arguing supervisors should rescind the ban and instead form a committee to develop regulations on grows.

Some supervisors, however, noted they’ve received numerous emails and phone calls in favor of the ban.

Supervisor Richard Anderson agreed with growers’ concerns that the board moved too quickly when on Jan. 12 it implemented an immediate ban on outdoor grows and limited indoor grows to 12 plants. He motioned for the board in the near future to consider repealing the ban and dispose of the June ballot measure. Instead he wants the board to work with growers on making new regulations.

“I do hear your comments and I do agree we have gone too quickly,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s motion failed to garner a second and never reached a vote. He then called the ballot language tweak and resolution of intent the second best option.

The ballot measure now will ask: “Shall an ordinance be adopted which (a) bans outdoor cultivation, commercial cultivation and other commercial cannabis activities, (b) limits indoor cultivation to 12 plants per parcel in residential and rural areas, (c) prohibits indoor marijuana cultivation in unpermitted structures and areas used or intended for human occupancy, and (d) allows marijuana cultivation only by qualified patients and primary caregivers and only for medicinal purposes?”

Some expressed confusion about what would occur if voters turned down the measure at the polls. That’s why the board opted to pass a resolution of intention, Supervisor Dan Miller said.

“Frankly, I don’t think it’s going to fail,” Supervisor Ed Scofield said.

Christopher Shoup, who earlier in the day blasted the board for its vote to give Sheriff Keith Royal more money for drug-searching helicopters, lashed out over the outdoor ban.

“This is medicine. Do you understand that?” Shoup asked. “Why would you take that from the residents of this county?”

Patricia Smith, president of the local chapter of Americans for Safe Access, said the ban imposes a hardship on Nevada County residents who need medical marijuana. She noted that the passage of AB21, which eliminated a March 1 deadline for local governments to pass marijuana regulations, removes the urgency to implement the existing ban.

“Why is our county using 20th century thinking to make 21st century law?” she asked.

Several speakers urged the board to order a financial analysis of the ballot measure’s outcomes, which it declined. Brad Peceimer claimed the county would lose 1,700 jobs if the outdoor cultivation ban continues. That would affect businesses ranging from retail stores to real estate.

“Prove me wrong and run a financial statement on this,” Peceimer said.

Harry Bennett, involved in the cannabis industry, also questioned why supervisors claim medical marijuana has no economic impact. He told the board he’s relocating a portion of his business out of county because of the ban.

“This is going to divide the county,” Bennett said. “I know there’s places we can come together.”

A few people supported the ban. Fran Freedle noted that thousands of residents voted down Measure S, a 2014 initiative that would have expanded medical marijuana locally. She anticipates voters on June 7 will again oppose marijuana grows. People who violate the current ban face no criminal charges. Violating the ban is a civil offense. Authorities can use the ban to force a grower into compliance. They can then gain an abatement order and remove the plants if the grower doesn’t comply.

In other matters the board:

• Entered a closed-door session to discuss if it should initiate litigation in two issues, later deciding to began court proceedings. It also reviewed its position on labor negotiations and gave instructions to its labor negotiators.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.

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