Pot proponents derail Yuba County supes’ meeting
Special to The Union
Four of five Yuba County supervisors walked out of their board chambers Tuesday morning amid a barrage of vitriolic catcalls from marijuana supporters. They returned to send two cannabis-related initiatives to the voters.
As expected, supervisors unanimously approved a consent agenda that included consolidating separate marijuana cultivation and dispensary initiatives with the June primary election.
While the outcome wasn’t a surprise, the atmosphere was the most highly charged of a series of Yuba County medical marijuana public sessions stretching back into 2014. The 45 or so people in the audience was fewer than many earlier meetings, but it was the first time things had gotten out of control to the point where the meeting was stopped.
Newly elected chairman Roger Abe recessed the meeting and was joined by supervisors John Nicoletti, Randy Fletcher and Mary Jane Griego in leaving the chambers for 20 minutes. Supervisor Andy Vasquez remained in his seat and continued to be subjected to the outrage of some audience members.
Abe, in his first meeting as 2016 chairman, said he had never been involved in a public meeting in which there was so little decorum.
On three occasions, he warned audience members to be respectful and quiet until it was their turn to speak. On another, he was shouted at when he attempted to keep a speaker within the three-minute limit imposed by the board.
“I don’t expect people to have the same views, but I would ask of them the same courtesy that they would demand when they are speaking,” Abe said after the meeting. “I would think that when the voters witness that demonstration today, I would not hold out much hope for their proposed initiative.”
Brook Hilton, a member of the Yuba Patients Coalition, addressed the crowd during the break after the four board members left.
“I understand your feelings,” Hilton said. “But this is out of order and isn’t going to get us anyplace.”
Tuesday’s action will send to the voters a cultivation ordinance less restrictive than one approved last spring banning outdoor grows and limiting indoor plants to 12 in a qualified accessory structure. Also on the June ballot will be a proposed ordinance allowing cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county.
Supervisors could also have approved outright the proposed ordinances after supporters of each collected enough signatures to send them to the board. Dispensary proponent Mickey Martin said “come June 7, we will get 51 percent of the votes anyway, and you will have to deal with it.”
But Nicoletti said the special election will accomplish what initiative supporters want.
“Now it’s up to the 73,000 residents of the county to decide this on the ballot,” he said.
As of November 2014, Yuba County had 26,918 registered voters.
Audience members — some carrying signs in support of medical marijuana — vastly outnumbered speakers in support of the tighter ordinance.
Some linked the cultivation ban to the recent arrest of former NET-5 (gang and drug task force) agent Christopher “Mark” Heath for transporting marijuana out of state.
“How could you believe your own code enforcement officers did not know what was happening?” Janet Wolfley asked the board. “There is no such thing as a bad apple. You are all bad apples. I hope you all end up in state prison.”
Hilton told supervisors he doesn’t believe the Heath arrest is an “isolated incident.”
“If NET-5 didn’t know this was happening, they are on crack,” he said.
Carmel Garcia accused the board of allowing the “Sheriff’s Department to run amok.”
“Why the lot of you aren’t in prison right now for violating the trust of these people and their (medical) conditions, I don’t know,” Garcia said of the current ordinance.
Charles Boutt II asked one of four sheriff’s deputies at the meeting to place supervisors under “citizens arrest for treason.” Boutt, with finger pointing, also yelled at Vasquez and Buck Weckman of Families Against Marijuana Trafficking during the break.
“We are the voters, and we voted for medical cannabis,” said Boutt, referring to statewide votes allowing medical marijuana. “We are allowed to grow, and there is nothing you can do about it.”
Vodden is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User