Live! The Nevada County BOS meeting on Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation Ban

Nevada City, Calif. January 12, 2016 – Live reporting from the Nevada County BOS meeting. On the afternoon agenda, a proposed amendment on the urgency marijuana ordinance and a ballot measure banning all outdoor marijuana cultivation.

January 12, 2016 at 7:04 PM The vote on placing the outdoor grow ban on the ballot passes with a 4-1 vote.

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January 12, 2016 at 6:53 PM The BOS now is debating the ballot measure – placing the measure on the June ballot.

January 12, 2016 at 6:53 PM The vote:

Scofield: Yes
Beason: Yes
Anderson: No
Weston: Yes
Miller: Yes

January 12, 2016 at 6:50 PM Much discussion between the supervisors about parcel sizes, setbacks and the “annoyance factor,” with the motion still on the floor.

January 12, 2016 at 6:45 PM Supervisor Scofield seconds. Supervisor Weston asks if they would be willing to reduce the number of plants to 6 in the R1 and R3 zoning. No appetite from the motion maker.

January 12, 2016 at 6:45 PM Supervisor Beason makes a motion to adopt the urgency ordinance as written.

January 12, 2016 at 6:42 PM Chair Miller thinks that “some people won’t comply anyway.”

January 12, 2016 at 6:38 PM Supervisor Scofield goes back to the economic argument and says that Nevada County was doing better because we are doing better due to the technology sector.

January 12, 2016 at 6:36 PM “If we don’t do something before March 1st and AB 21 doesn’t pass, the state becomes the licensing authority and such. If we don’t get passed the March 1st date and the voters approve recreational marijuana, we would lose local control.” Supervisor Beason asks.

January 12, 2016 at 6:31 PM Supervisor Anderson sees it as a land use issue. “Conflicts between land owners and conflicts on environmental issues. It’s also a broader greenhouse gas impact if it’s indoor cultivation. All this argues for a more considerate approach.” Nevada County is not permitting, which he thinks is not wise. His preference is for public involvement in the process. “Bring in the HOAs, the growers and the public and consider their wisdom. Let’s try and reach a middle ground.”

January 12, 2016 at 6:29 PM “I’m concerned about the medicinal needs for people in the county, but I heard the majority of product goes out of the county,” Supervisor Hank Weston says. “What would happen if we delay the outdoor ban until November and wait for the election result?”

“If we’re not making a decision then we’ll be back here and listening to the same comments all over again,” Miller says. He is now calling for a motion.

January 12, 2016 at 6:24 PM We are now getting in the weeds (pun intended) of hypothetical and what would happen if the ban goes into effect. Chair Miller is speaking about “values we hold dear to our heart.”

January 12, 2016 at 6:20 PM Chair Miller reiterates that the ban would not criminalize the growers, it is a nuisance ordinance. He is asking the Sheriff about AB 21, the bill that would lift the deadline for local agencies to create their own local rules. The Sheriff thinks waiting for the bill to pass is “playing Russian Roulette.”

January 12, 2016 at 6:18 PM Supervisor Beason states he gets feedback from many families that are considering moving because of the marijuana. He thinks it needs to get on the ballot and let the people decide.

January 12, 2016 at 6:14 PM The deliberation is on. Supervisors are asking questions of County Counsel and the Sheriff’s staff.

January 12, 2016 at 6:12 PM “It’s the complaints that you (supervisors) have brought to me that brought us here,” Sheriff Royal says.

January 12, 2016 at 6:01 PM The second to last speaker is on. “I am not ashamed of being a cannabis cultivator. Treat me like just another business man in Nevada County.”

January 12, 2016 at 5:55 PM The community appears to ask for collaboration from their supervisors, in order to craft a local solution that will protect children, implement regulations that allow patients to grow their medicine outdoors and “bust the bad actors” as many said.

January 12, 2016 at 5:45 PM We are approaching the final 6 speakers. Then, the BOS will deliberate, asks more questions and they may or may not take a vote. The urgency ordinance will need a 4/5th vote to pass. Then, the BOS will have to debate the proposed ballot measure.

January 12, 2016 at 5:42 PM Indoor growing when it’s 100F outside just doesn’t work. Running 4,000 Watts of fans to cool their crop will be really expensive. During a power outage, generators will be running 24/7 to keep the plants alive, says Penn Valley resident Kevin.

January 12, 2016 at 5:37 PM Speaking for 3 cannabis patients, a caregiver states the patients can get by with a few plants, grown outdoors during the summer. Indoor cultivation would require year-round growing for those patients. “It’s called weed for a reason, you stick it in the ground and water it – it grows.” You shouldn’t make it criminal for people to grow their medicine. “Why make a patient pay for electricity and fertilizer when you can grow it relatively easily outside? Work with the community and the state that is enforceable please.”

January 12, 2016 at 5:30 PM Don Bessee, this time wearing the hat of Exec Director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana aka SAM, starts by saying this is about local control, not Berkeley, Oakland or West Hollywood. He also states that he is on the board of the Federation of Neighborhood Association, but not speaking for them. “The real issue is that the neighborhoods have had enough,” he states. “We support the Sheriff’s proposal.”

January 12, 2016 at 5:24 PM Patricia Smith, local ASA chapter leader, draws a parallel between prohibition and the proposed ban – and we know how prohibition ended. “An outdoor ban is a bad idea, it doesn’t allow for a transition. What are patients to do in the meantime?” Smith, in a very emotional plea, states that Forest and his son are in need of medication that she would not be able to provide to them for free. “Please let’s move forward into a bright and legal future.”

January 12, 2016 at 5:17 PM The right to access to a medication, grown outdoors and organically is another argument against the ban.

January 12, 2016 at 5:13 PM The crowd has diminished some, but is still standing room only. It looks like a dozen more people are lined up to address the BOS. So far the ratio is 90:10 against a the proposed outdoor cultivation ban.

January 12, 2016 at 5:03 PM Evan, a North San Juan business owner, points out that Nevada County has the ideal micro-climate for growing marijuana. Should the state change marijuana from a banned substance to an agricultural crop, we would end up with the equivalent of Napa Valley he states.

January 12, 2016 at 5:00 PM A local building contractor states setting up a room to grow indoors will not cost $4,000, the cost will be more like $10,000. The recklessness of banning outdoor growing is heartbreaking to him. “Cocaine, heroin and crack are banned and are causing more problems in our community than marijuana.”

January 12, 2016 at 4:54 PM Lee Hudson complements the BOS on the undivided attention they are paying to all the public comments. “That’s highly unusual,” she says to laughter from the BOS and the audience. She is concerned about the use of chemicals used in indoor grows, as well as high amounts of energy. Growing should be allowed, both indoor and outdoor, if: the activity is permitted (with a sliding scale of fees), avoids contamination of water, urban growing should be limited to indoor growing. Outdoor growing should be permitted on 5-acre minimum parcels.

January 12, 2016 at 4:45 PM Harry Bennett, a Nevada City resident and business owner, states for the past 10 years everybody has been asking for regulations and he approves. He cites legislators and law enforcement in favor of regulations on medical cannabis. He is asking the BOS to take a look at the state cannabis laws and go with them. “I don’t want Sacramento gang bangers to come up here any more than you do. Let’s come together, let’s all sit down and work together.”

January 12, 2016 at 4:39 PM Local resident and Peeps admin Beth Moore is addressing the BOS and hopes they will show the leadership needed and make good regulations based on scientific evidence. Just like any adult activity, like drinking, smoking, voting, guns – children should be protected from drugs, Moore says. But by and large people are trying to operate responsibly.

January 12, 2016 at 4:36 PM A person who has been a grower for 17 years says he welcomes guidelines, has never used pesticides or other poisons. As an organic grower, he would hate to lose the opportunity to do what he loves. “Open the lines of communication to all stakeholders and don’t be afraid to seek consensus,” Mark says.

January 12, 2016 at 4:29 PM Several growers addressed the BOS now, all with the same position: An outdoor ban is not viable, will not solve the problem. Regulate, don’t ban is their message. “We are here, we spend money here. We want to pay taxes, work with us.”

January 12, 2016 at 4:27 PM Ham Brian, a California native, says he moved to Nevada City because of the good schools. I care about our community. He has seen the trimigrant culture take hold. His kids are subjected to the smell of three grows on their way to school. He is not opposed not medical marijuana, but is in favor of the outdoor ban.

January 12, 2016 at 4:23 PM Calida Todd, the founder of Peaceful Valley Farm, asks the BOS to slow down and let the dust settle. “Many of the grows shown in the Sheriff’s presentation clearly have sprung up because of the lack of guidelines.” Her health issues are alleviated by cannabis. “This medicine has incredible implications for patients, it is not the devil’s weed.” Her preference would be to pay a license fee and remain the upstanding citizen that she is. “I’ve been growing gardens for 40 years and I don’t know how to do that. This ban could cost me my farm. The vote before you will have a tremendous impact on the county.”

January 12, 2016 at 4:21 PM “Give us enough space for people who can’t grow for themselves,” says Tanya Scarlett. “Put it in ag land but let us grow.” She also made the point that kids doing drugs is not a problem created by pot, it’s a parenting issue.

January 12, 2016 at 4:18 PM Brad Peceimer-Glasse just provided the BOS with the economic impact of marijuana growing.

January 12, 2016 at 4:09 PM David Allen, a retired doctor and self-proclaimed cannabis researcher, addresses the BOS next. “People that don’t smoke pot make suggestions that seem reasonable, but people that smoke pot know that you can’t ban the sun.” A ‘Garden Police’ does not make sense, according to Allen.

January 12, 2016 at 4:04 PM Local attorney Heather Burke, an advisor to the local growers’ association, states, “In my capacity of representing these folks [growers] I hear over and over again, ‘ I want to be in compliance.’ I don’t think we will see a large reduction in gardens with this ban. Yuba County has not experienced any reduction in growth, their outdoor ban notwithstanding. You can not ban this [growing] mindset.”

January 12, 2016 at 4:01 PM Local resident Song Kowbell asks, “When is enough enough?”

January 12, 2016 at 3:54 PM Nevada County resident Aja thanks Nevada County law enforcement for being “as close to peace officers as I’d like to see.” With the impending legalization of cannabis, according to Aja, he wants the BOS to ban outdoor cultivation and watch the ensuing backlash. “We need that type of nonsensical legislation to wake people up.” [Hilarity ensues]

January 12, 2016 at 3:52 PM A representative of the Tahoe Collective states that removing outdoor cultivation would cause economic devastation. “Coming up with robust regulation will work instead of pushing people back in the dark.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:50 PM Sarah, a business owner in North San Juan (Ridge Cafe) says their success relies on their customers, many of them growers. She opposes the proposed ban.

January 12, 2016 at 3:47 PM Grass Valley resident Alex states his wife uses cannabis oil to treat chronic pain, he uses it to treat his epilepsy. “We need to be able to grow our medical cannabis to survive.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:43 PM Ana Acton, FREED’s Executive Director, addresses the BOS now. “With the work that FREED does in the community, we hear the stories in the community. No one wants large, illegal grows in the county. But at FREED we work with patients that need access to healthcare and medicine. Medical marijuana can improve health outcomes, we know that. We struggle every day to provide access to healthcare and pain management. There is a lack of specialists in our area. Many of our clients are growing medical marijuana in their garden to help with their pain management.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:38 PM Nevada County resident Forest Hurd shows a poster with pictures of his son who is suffering from seizures. His condition is not treatable by conventional medicine, he was having more than 500 seizures a month. With the use of a medical cannabidol oil, the seizures have stopped. “I need this medicine to save my son’s life.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:36 PM Sacramento CPA Larry Braiden states “We live in a free market economy. Banning outdoor cultivation won’t solve problems, it’ll be enforced selectively. We need simple rules and standardization.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:33 PM Jonathan Valdman, a local grow supply business owner, starts by thanking the BOS for having this conversation. “People want to pay taxes, they want to be in compliance with sensible regulations. Are regulations necessary and do we have a problem? Absolutely. We are seeing devastation in our environment and sensible regulations will bring solutions. 9% of California’s energy production are used for indoor marijuana cultivation, that’s insane. Proper regulations will get rid of most of the problems we see here.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:30 PM “Your citizens are here today because they are concerned for their children, the environment and the community. They don’t want to be criminals. I’m asking that you listen to your constituents, get feedback from everyone and craft good regulations that set apart good people from criminals.” A young woman from Sacramento stated.

January 12, 2016 at 3:20 PM Marc Johnson urges the BOS to vote against the urgency ordinance. “The March 1 deadline will be changed,” he states. “Out of the 90,000+ residents only 323 complaints were received.” Driving cultivation indoors will increase the cost dramatically, he adds.

January 12, 2016 at 3:17 PM Nevada County resident Betty believes that a ban will only attract outside dealers who will not just sell marijuana but also hard drugs. Only a small percentage of resident patients will be able to grow indoors. We should have compassion for the elderly and low-income residents. Let’s not create a hardship for many patients.

January 12, 2016 at 3:13 PM California Growers Association (CGA) spokesperson David Rice states: “CGA acknowledges the environmental degradation caused by illegal growers. We want to work with you and provide a distinction between farmers and criminals. We want to work collaboratively, good policy is based on good information. We are ready to participate actively in a new and improved regulation in Nevada County.” CGA’s position on bans is simple: “Bans don’t work and don’t solve problems.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:12 PM Nevada County Board of Realtors has not had a chance to talk to their members, they have not yet taken a position.

January 12, 2016 at 3:10 PM Fran Friedel, former supervisor and current political activist is encouraging the BOS to remove the scourge that “destroys our community.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:08 PM Betty Webb, a 87.5-year old Nevada City resident (her words), says that without medical cannabis her joints would not be working. “Everybody here wants to grow legally.” I have been a loyal taxpayer and I appreciate what you’re doing.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:03 PM Lorraine Webb opens the public comment period. She is thanking Fish&Game and all people who protect our environment and our kids. “We want our children to be protected. Everyone can understand there is a huge problem here.” However, the original urgency ordinance leaves many people unable to comply, Webb says. “This is a marvelous medicinal herb, and I want to be able to stay in Nevada County. Prohibition has never worked.”

January 12, 2016 at 3:02 PM Chair Miller is opening the meeting for public comment. 3 minutes for every speaker, please stay on topic, Miller says.

January 12, 2016 at 2:59 PM Some retired banker from Ukiah has been invited by Chair Miller to speak. His statement is “If just one business decides not to relocate here because of the smell, it is a loss we can not afford.”

January 12, 2016 at 2:53 PM Approximately 200 pounds of processed marijuana were seized and 50 individuals arrested in 2015. NCSO also seized 73 firearms.

January 12, 2016 at 2:50 PM An increase of dump sites for butane canisters, complaints by neighbors about dropping property values are also concerns cited by Lt. Smethers. Concerns about environmental degradation and an increase in crime directly related to marijuana grows are now being recited.

January 12, 2016 at 2:47 PM The NU Athletic Director has been invited by Chair Miller to speak to the issue. Discouraging underage drinking and drug use is a priority for him and the program. There is no evidence of students using drugs is in any way beneficial to them. “I can’t be in favor of anything that allows more drug use.”

January 12, 2016 at 2:40 PM The principal of Lyman-Gilmore wants to emphasize the safety of kids as their first priority. Marijuana has impeded that considerably, he states. The perception that marijuana is OK by his students is a problem and impedes his role as an educator.

January 12, 2016 at 2:37 PM Holly Hermansen, Nevada County Superintendent of Schools is reporting an increase in marijuana use by students. She cites higher potency of the current marijuana crops and states that studies have documented the increased use of alcohol and other drugs are facilitated by marijuana. The smell emanating from some children is disruptive to the learning process, she states. Parents are complaining about their kids smelling of marijuana after playing with other kids.

January 12, 2016 at 2:35 PM Brien Evans, an ER physician at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is reporting an increase in marijuana utilization by patients. He is stating that there are medical benefits for some patients but agrees that the increase in marijuana usage poses problems for the ER physicians.

January 12, 2016 at 2:30 PM Child Protective Services Director Mike Dent is talking about the abuse and neglect of children, stating that nationally 80% reports of child neglect/abuse are related to drug use. Over the last year, CPS has seen an increase in the frequency of children testing positive for marijuana at birth. An increase of neglect/injuries due to honey oil injuries has been reported. Unsafe living conditions for children being reported has experienced an increase.

January 12, 2016 at 2:17 PM Chief Jim Turner, Nevada County Consolidated Fire, is listing the fire dangers and electrical violations resulting from overheating extension cords, which started wildland fires. Overloaded or bypassed circuitry cause electrical fires and can jeopardize firefighters safety, Turner says. The increase in Butane/Honey Oil labs is a growing concern.

January 12, 2016 at 2:12 PM “The gardens are not getting and smaller, they are getting bigger,” Lt. Smethers says. He is showing aerial pictures of various large grows in Nevada County. The terracing of the land, without permits are causing damage to the land, he says.

January 12, 2016 at 2:09 PM Real estate, advertised on various websites, all on unimproved parcels, is an issue, according to the Sheriff’s report. They mentioned the Nevada County Peeps Facebook group, stating Prop 215-friendly land is being advertised there. They are citing an anonymous realtor who states that Nevada County is being advertised as an “open-grow” county.

January 12, 2016 at 2:07 PM Supervisor Adams states the sale of improved parcels has skyrocketed since the implementation of their ordinance.

January 12, 2016 at 2:04 PM Sierra County Chair Lee Adams is now addressing his colleagues from Nevada County. He explains Sierra County’s current ordinance: 18 plants per recommendation and up to 5 recommendations can be grown on a parcel.

January 12, 2016 at 2:02 PM A break down of the various districts in Nevada County per complaints:

33 complaints in District 1
80 complaints in District 2
15 complaints in District 3
101 complaints in District 4
26 complaints in District 5

January 12, 2016 at 1:57 PM A record number of water thefts from the canals has been reported last year, Scherzinger says.

January 12, 2016 at 1:54 PM Rem Scherzinger, General Manager for NID, is part of the Sheriff’s presentation. Staff safety is a major issue, Scherzinger states. “On a lot of these grows, there have been threats to our staff.” Scherzinger claims, without giving any numbers of incidents. “Water theft is a big problem for us,” Scherzinger continues. Fire hydrants are also the target of water targets, he states.

January 12, 2016 at 1:48 PM Water diversion or pollution are the main violations by large growers, FISH&Game states. “There are responsible growers, but we find a significant amount of bad apples. Poaching is a another concern, deer nibble on plants and they are killed by people. Bears are attracted to grows, rip out water lines and will demolish fences. They are being poisoned by chemicals let on sites.”

January 12, 2016 at 1:45 PM The presentation centers on the complaints received, mostly about the smell of outdoor grows. In 2015, Nevada County received 323 complaints for 265 locations. The Sheriff’s office conducted 126 inspections, according to data obtained by YubaNet from the Sheriff’s office. A California Department of Fish&Game officer is now relating how their agency has to investigate large outdoor grows.

January 12, 2016 at 1:37 PM Sheriff Royal is providing background on the current urgency ordinance with came into being in 2012. “We’ve had very little success with the cumbersome process in place now. Whereas with a ban, it’s easy. You have plants outside, you are growing illegally.”

January 12, 2016 at 1:34 PM Chair Miller is laying out the ground rules. No heckling, please let’s have an intelligent and respectful dialogue. Each member of the public will be given 3 minutes to speak, organizations will have 5 minutes. We’re starting with Sheriff Keith Royal’s presentation.