Photo: YubaNet

GRASS VALLEY, Calif. April 5, 2016 – An overflow crowd attended a debate organized by local Democrats on Measure W, Nevada County’s proposed outdoor marijuana cultivation ban. Jonathan Collier, representing the California Growers Association and Dan Miller, Chair of the Nevada County Board of Supervisors, spoke on opposing sides of the issue.

Miller admitted one of the reasons for Measure W and the existing ordinance was the BOS’ desire to lock in the ban ahead of future elections. “The Board’s composition is going to change in the future, this Board is dedicated and committed to bring cultivation into compliance. I’m telling you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. We wanted to preserve the quality of life, this is what we decided.”

Earlier on, Miller stated the BOS wanted to send a signal to the illegal growers by passing the outdoor ban. “The community is up in arms and I’m dedicated to protecting our neighborhoods.”

Collier said opponents wanted to be proactive and work to establish regulations within the state’s MMRSA framework. “Let’s move forward in an intelligent way while the state is working out the guidelines.”

Asked if law enforcement was using aerial surveillance to initiate complaints Miller responded, “The Sheriff uses aerial surveillance to initiate enforcement [actions] on large grows. Why have a helicopter and fly around and not react when you see something? Yes, if they see something they will initiate a complaint.”

Question: How can the ban be taken seriously when it’s been suggested by Supervisors that growing a few plants in a vegetable garden won’t trigger an action?

Miller: “I was trying to let people know that we’re not looking at the person who has 2-3 plants in the backyard. We are going after people who disregard the regulations, thumb their nose at the neighborhoods.”

Collier: “Let’s just make the rules very clear.”

Question: As a senior on a limited income, why can’t I buy my medication locally, why do I have to drive to Sacramento?

Miller: “Right now the cities have prohibitions, but I think Grass Valley is leaning strongly towards allowing 2, maybe 3 dispensaries within city limits.” He added that he was not speaking for the city of Grass Valley, but he got that impression from public meetings the city has been holding. As of today, Grass Valley has not taken any action towards permitting dispensaries.

Collier: “Dispensaries need to fill their shelves, with the current regulations that is not possible here. Dispensaries in Sacramento, San Francisco or other urban areas cannot grow the quantities necessary for their business within city limits.”

Miller: “That’s where we get into differences. We’re getting into commercial cultivation, that’s not what we want. Medical marijuana is what W tries to regulate. We are trying to avoid the reputation that Nevada County is a fabulous county to grow. That’s why we have the 12 plant limit in place. This [commercial growing] is about money, that’s not what we want to be known for.”

Collier: “That is what the new state laws actually allow, for this type of industry to exist.” He added that businesses have to follow land use regulations. “You don’t see commercial businesses in residential zones. Agricultural zoning is where you put farms.”