Our View: Ban or no ban, the impacts of marijuana not going away | TheUnion.com

Our View: Ban or no ban, the impacts of marijuana not going away

Anyone who says that any sort of ban on the cultivation of cannabis — outdoors, indoors or both — will remove marijuana and its impacts on the quality of life and the economy from our community isn’t being honest.

As both Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal and Board of Supervisors Chairman Dan Miller acknowledged moments before supervisors banned outdoor cultivation on Jan. 12, no matter what rules are put in place, there are going to be those who will not comply. That has been the case before and after California passed Proposition 215, and before and after Nevada County approved its 2012 cannabis cultivation ordinance.

And it will likely be the case no matter what laws are on the books — at the local, state or federal level — that regulate the cultivation of marijuana.

Supervisors plan to put their ban before county voters in the June primary, but in the meantime those who do have a right under state law to possess or cultivate must plan to do so indoors in Nevada County, after a 4-1 vote approved an urgency ordinance to immediately put the outdoor ban in place.

That urgency action was necessary, supervisors said, due to a March 1 deadline legislators included in new statewide rules on growth, transport and sale of cannabis signed into law by Gov. Brown last October. Nearly 20 years after the passage of Prop. 215, legislators finally approved statewide regulations that many municipalities and counties had sought since.

But with Brown’s signature, local officials were essentially given a mere matter of four to five months to figure out what was going to be the standards of their own communities before the new law takes effect, or else fall solely under state purview.

In recent weeks, legislators have worked to remove that deadline. The state Senate Health Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would give local governments more time to implement marijuana laws, sending the measure to the full Senate, which could vote as early as Monday. The bill would proceed from there to the state Assembly and then the governor’s desk, if approved by both chambers.

Nevada County officials have not been alone in efforts to address the issue on a local level before hitting the deadline, as Nevada City approved the first reading of an ordinance outlining limits on indoor cultivation last week and a Grass Valley committee plans to host a public discussion on the topic Thursday morning.

And, as the Sacramento Bee reported this week, “nearly 100 cities and more than a half dozen counties have abruptly voted to ban marijuana cultivation outright rather than race the clock to draft ordinances to create local growing standards.”

Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, one of the authors of medical marijuana regulations signed by the governor, introduced Assembly Bill 21, which he told the Bee would be an “easy fix” to remove the March 1 deadline. But he also said building the state’s regulation structure and establishing local permitting rules will take several years.

“I get it that cities and counties are concerned that if they don’t do something they give up their rights,” Wood told the Bee. “But the reality is there is no state structure right now. At this point, there is no Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation. There is no bureau chief. There is no staff. There is nobody in place to do anything. It’s time to just take a deep breath, folks.”

We agree with Wood, and County Supervisor Richard Anderson, who voted against the urgency ordinance banning outdoor cultivation. Anderson said the community needed a more “considerate” approach — one that could bring neighborhood associations, business owners, residents, growers and government officials to the table in an effort to find middle ground and understand, and attempt to mitigate, the impacts of local regulation of cannabis cultivation on our quality of life, economy and patients’ access.

Such a comprehensive consideration could provide clarity to what’s been a haze of regulations on marijuana at the local, state and federal level.

But such an approach takes proactive, rather than reactive, leadership, something that’s long been lacking on cannabis.

The question is: how are we going to make it fit within our own community’s standards?

It’s not a matter of right or wrong. It’s not a moral issue. And, no matter what action is taken, it’s not going away.

The weekly Our View column represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.

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