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Voter-implemented pot ban would be ‘bullet-proof’

Alan Riquelmy
Staff Writer

The current marijuana cultivation ban in Nevada County prohibits all outdoor grows and limits indoor grows to 12 plants.

It’s a ban that’s been in place since Jan. 12, when the Board of Supervisors approved it.

The supervisors, if they chose, could remove the ban by majority vote and implement regulations to allow the cultivation of marijuana.

That possibility disappears, however, if residents on June 7 approve Measure W, an initiative that would create a voter-implemented ban. That type of ban can’t be discarded by a supervisor vote, but would instead require another ballot initiative to overturn.

“We’d end up with a petition anyway,” said Supervisor Dan Miller, chairman of the board, of the decision to place the ban on the June ballot. “It’s something we feel is inevitable.”

Time is ticking away. Supervisors rejected a motion last week to consider removing the ban and casting aside the June 7 vote. If voters opt to implement the ban at the polls, supervisors won’t get another chance.

The ban, implemented after a marathon board session, drew a sharp division between grow supporters and opponents. Many supporters railed against the board, claiming they greatly outnumbered people opposed to marijuana grows.

The board, however, noted that many people against grows had called and emailed supervisors. The Nevada County Republican Party last week added its voice to those messages, passing a resolution in support of Measure W’s passage.

“The County’s Measure W will protect the rights of those needing to grow and have access to medical marijuana while restricting outdoor and large commercial grows which have created an unhealthy environment in Nevada County,” said Deborah E.G. Wilder, chairman of the local Republican Party, in an email.

A ban passed by the voters concerns Nevada City attorney Heather Burke, who has represented local growers. She called a voter-approved ban almost impossible to overturn. The only method of repealing it, barring a court overturning it, is another ballot measure.

“The board can’t undo it until they put it to a vote again,” Burke said. “I call it bullet-proof.”

According to Burke, the existing ban is being reviewed for possible legal challenges. Any challenge through the courts must occur soon.

“We don’t have a lot of options,” Burke said.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.

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