January 17, 2016 – When asked if I was planning to attend the BOS meeting about banning outdoor marijuana grows I said, “Nope. I already know how each supervisor plans to vote.”

I talk with the supervisors on a semi-regular basis because I run into them at various community meetings. Ed Scofield and Dan Miller have always been upfront about their intentions to ban outdoor grows. I have been honest with my representatives and have said that banning outdoor grows would have a negative impact on our already-challenging affordable housing problem and that such a drastic change in our economy could be devastating. Both Scofield and Miller had very clear reasons about why they thought the ban was necessary and they felt strongly about their position.

In the five years I have lived in Nevada County I have voted in every election. When asking friends about their positions I have heard over and over from people that “voting doesn’t do anything.” I hope that the people who used to think that voting doesn’t matter are now aware that voting in fact does matter and that who represents you can have a very real and sudden impact on your community and neighbors.

We live in a representative democracy and while that doesn’t always play out correctly at the national level, it is still quite effective at the local level of government, provided that all eligible citizens participate and that the representatives actually answer to the interests of the people they represent. When I say that, I want to be very clear about what I mean: the people our elected officials represent are the people who vote and their consensus. The people who vote are the people they are accountable to. Representatives don’t really care about the people who do not vote because those people aren’t going to cost them their job when they make a decision they disagree with.

The current incensed and passionate population of eligible voters in Nevada County is awe-inspiring but it will be useless unless every single person in this county registers to vote and shows up to participate in the democratic process, not just on election day but every other day in between.

I wasn’t surprised by the BOS vote on the outdoor growing of marijuana. Our supervisors voted the way they did based on the council they received from constituents and advisors over time. Having 500 people show up on one day for a nine hour meeting was not going to change their position. However, just because the BOS passed an ordinance doesn’t mean that they can’t repeal it or that a new Board couldn’t overturn it.

Continue to talk to our current elected officials civilly and on a regular basis so that they have enough perspective and knowledge to make a reasonable and informed decision. I have found our elected officials in Nevada County to be quite approachable and while I don’t agree with Dan Miller and Ed Scofield’s position on the policies for growing marijuana outdoors, I have always found both of them to be lovely gentleman who are willing to listen.

If you are interested in change you have options. There is a process to repeal all laws in this country and there is a process to create new ones. Any individual can start the process to create a city-wide, county-wide, or state-wide initiative. Any eligible person can run for office. There is a way to recall all elected officials in California. A new set of Supervisors in Nevada County could vote to overturn the outdoor pot ban and a new Sheriff could change his or her priorities and start focusing on meth or other issues in the county.

The offices and phone numbers of every elected official in this entire country from county clerk to the Commander in Chief are published and available to every single person in the United States. If you want your voice to be heard, pick up the phone. Write a letter. Start a petition. The policies are ultimately up to the people. The question is whether or not the people are willing to work for their democracy.