Measure W: Restrictions on marijuana cultivation

Editor’s note: The Elections office emailed this to Sierra Foothills Report, at our request. Thanks to YubaNet for posting it:

IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS
Measure W is a County-initiated ballot measure that was placed on the ballot by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors pursuant to Elections Code section 9140. On January 12, 2016, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors adopted Nevada County Ordinance No. 2405 containing new restrictions on marijuana cultivation in the unincorporated area of Nevada County. This existing law allows qualified medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers to cultivate medical marijuana in qualified permitted structures on properties where those patients or their primary caregivers reside, and prohibits outdoor marijuana cultivation. Existing law also:

• Allows only indoor marijuana cultivation of up to 12 plants per parcel on parcels zoned primarily for residential or rural uses (e.g., R-1, R-2, R-3, R-A, AG, AE, FR or TPZ)

• Allows marijuana cultivation only for medical purposes in accordance with federal, state and local laws, including regulations and restrictions adopted by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors

• Prohibits outdoor cultivation of marijuana

• Prohibits all commercial cannabis activities

• Requires that parcels used for cultivation be occupied by the patient or primary caregiver as his or her primary place of residence

• Requires that parcels used for marijuana cultivation contain a permanent, occupied, legally permitted structure

• Prohibits marijuana cultivation in any portion of a structure used as, designed or intended for human occupancy

• Prohibits marijuana cultivation in non-permitted structures

If adopted by a majority of the voters, Measure W would create a voter-approved ordinance to codify the above restrictions on marijuana cultivation and commercial cannabis activities in unincorporated areas of the County, and would amend Sections G-IV 5.4(C) and G-IV 5.4(E) of the Nevada County General Code accordingly. The proposed ordinance would allow the Board of Supervisors to adopt any additional ordinances, resolutions or other regulations necessary to reasonably interpret and clarify the ordinance, without a vote of the people, so long as the Board’s interpretation or clarification is consistent with the language and original intent of the voter-approved ordinance.

On February 9, 2016, the Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution No. 16-082 clarifying the intention of the Board of Supervisors if this ballot measure fails, which is to abide by the will of the voters with respect to Measure W, repeal the ban on outdoor marijuana cultivation and consider and adopt other outdoor regulations related to cultivation of marijuana.

A “Yes” vote on Measure W is a vote to adopt the proposed ordinance and uphold the existing marijuana cultivation regulations contained in Measure W.

A “No” vote on Measure W is a vote to reject the proposed ordinance. If Measure W is rejected, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors has committed to repealing the existing outdoor ban on marijuana cultivation and to adopting other outdoor regulations after the County Elections Official certifies the election results. The existing marijuana cultivation regulations would remain in place in the interim period.

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure W. If you desire a copy of the measure, please call the Nevada County Elections office at 530-265-1298 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you.

Argument in Favor of Measure W
In 2012, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors adopted a Medical Marijuana Cultivation ordinance intended to allow qualified patients safe and reasonable access to medical marijuana, while also protecting the quality of life and property values for neighboring residents. Despite reasonable attempts to address nuisance concerns, the county has experienced an increase in large outdoor marijuana cultivations and associated criminal activity, nuisance complaints and damage to wildlife, water supplies and other environmental degradation.

The unbridled outdoor cultivation is having a direct impact on the quality of life in Nevada County. Prohibiting outdoor cultivation would simplify enforcement, allow citizens to once again enjoy outdoor activities, and return a sense of safety to the community while still permitting access to medical marijuana for those who need it by allowing regulated indoor cultivation ofup to 12 plants.

A Yes vote on Measure W would:

• uphold the current ban on outdoor cultivation and associated commercial marijuana activities.

• help reduce the environmental damage from large outdoor grows such as discarding of trash, human waste, illegal use of pesticides, poisoning of wildlife, unauthorized diversion of water from streams, substandard storage of hazardous materials and other threats to public health.

• relieve pressure on County social services programs such as mental health, behavioral health, adult/child protective services and welfare.

• re-define Nevada County’s legacy as safe and welcoming for families and new businesses.

All residents have a right to expect protection from nuisance and public safety issues associated with marijuana cultivation. Measure W provides that protection and still allows qualified patients, and those who grow for them, continued access to their medicine; while providing the Sheriff the ability to immediately abate outdoor grows and limit or at least minimize the unlawful activity. Vote Yes on Measure W.

Those who signed the argument are:

Hank Weston – Vice-Chair, Nevada County Board of Supervisors

Willard N. Drown III – Retired

Marty Lombardi – Retired businessman

Lindy Beatie – Non-profit Executive

Daniel Swartzendruber – Business Owner

This is authored by Dan Miller – Chairman, Nevada County Board of Supervisors

Ballot argument against Measure W
Unregulated cannabis cultivation must come to an end in Nevada County, but Measure Wis not the solution. An outdoor grow ban will push illegal growers further into the woods and onto public lands, posing greater environmental risk to our rivers and streams.

Importantly, Measure W rejects our State’s new multi-agency framework for regulating cultivation enacted in 2015. Rather than accept help from the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the State Water Board, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and Department of Agriculture, among others, Measure W places full responsibility for regulating both cultivation, and other cannabis-related activities upon the shoulders of our already overburdened Sheriffs Office, diverting their officers from serious and violent crime.

Measure W does not impose any taxes or fees on growers, dispensaries, or testing laboratories, shifting the full cost of enforcement upon us, the taxpayers; an estimated burden in the millions of dollars.

Measure W expressly forces legitimate cultivators to grow indoors under artificial lights, adding additional load do to our already overtaxed power grid. It creates a new set of potential dangers associated with mold, fire, chemical and electrical hazard.

Today, the majority of growers openly ask for regulations, which would allow the County to impose strict environmental and public safety regulations and address problems associated with odor. We agree that unregulated cannabis cultivation must come to an end in Nevada County. Measure Wis not a solution. Opponents of Measure W respectfully ask that our community work together to fashion effective regulations.

A “No” vote on Measure W is a vote for regulations that actually work.

Those who signed the argument are:

Forrest Hurd – Executive Director of HOPE

Martin Webb – Member, Coalition for a Drug-Free Nevada County

Patricia Smith – Chair, Americans for Safe Access Nevada County

David Rice – Nevada County Spokesperson Calif. Growers Association

This is authored by Harry Bennett – Executive Board member Coalition to Tax and Regulate Medical Cannabis

Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure W

Nevada County adopted regulations in 2012 that permitted outdoor marijuana grows and contained provisions to protect the environment, reduce crime and minimize nuisance impacts; but those regulations were ignored and abused. Today, unchecked outdoor cannabis grows make residents afraid to walk in their neighborhoods or report criminal activity. Measure W will allow the Sheriff to abate outdoor grows more quickly and restore our sense of safety.

Measure W does not reject the State’s Medical Marijuana Regulatory and Safety Act (MMRSA). However, MMRSA does nothing to control the large black market and nuisance grows causing our problems. Even under MMRSA, counties are responsible to enforce local regulations that safeguard public health and safety.

This is not an economic windfall as marijuana advocates claim. Most of the proceeds from taxes and permitting would go to the State for specific purposes such as substance abuse education, prevention and treatment, and do little to benefit us locally. Before imposing new local taxes (which must be approved by a vote of the people), let’s see where the voters stand on outdoor cultivation.

Measure Wallows legitimate patients to grow up to 12 plants indoors, which is not restricted to artificial lighting, and would require the proper permits to ensure building safety. While outdoor grows proliferate, Nevada County is becoming “legendary” for pot cultivation. Measure W will drive large nuisance growers from our county, protect our reputation as safe and welcoming for families and help safeguard our quality of life. Vote yes on Measure W.

Rebuttal to Argument in Favor or Measure W
No evidence exists that any of the arguments made in favor of Measure W are valid.

Sadly; Measure W will have no affect on illegal grows or the damage they inflict on the environment, public health or quality of life. To argue that criminals who don’t abide by current regulation will abide by more regulation is ridiculous. Indoor versus outdoor growing will not relieve pressure on social services. These are intended to be emotional arguments; they are not grounded in fact.

Here are the facts:

Everyone agrees illegal grows need to be stopped. We support laws that protect our community from black market enterprises, allowing law enforcement to accurately target and address delinquent operators.

Large outdoor grows are already illegal, as is the discarding of trash, human waste, illegal use of pesticides, poisoning of wildlife, unauthorized diversion of water from streams, substandard storage of hazardous materials and other threats to public health.

There is no evidence that Measure W would impact County social services.

Effective enforcement of current regulations will be what re-defines Nevada County’s legacy as safe and welcoming for families and new businesses.

There has been an outdoor cultivation ban in place since January 12, 2016. Our elected officials have the authority to uphold this ban without this ballot measure.

Your No vote requires policy makers to respect the needs of patients while accepting responsibility for the trust we have placed in them to make informed decisions on behalf of our community.

Vote No on Measure W.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

9 thoughts on “Measure W: Restrictions on marijuana cultivation”

    1. Todd is talking to himself again. Where are all the endorsements from his “hundreds of friends” for his run for BOS? ROFLOL!

  1. Don Bessee is a big proponent of Measure W. Yet I notice his name is nowhere near the Measure as a proponent. I guess Don isn’t as important as he thinks he is. In fact, he is a liability to any rational, thinking person. ROFLOL.

      1. I read the Measure and believe it is asinine. Oozing from the verbiage, is the still unaccepting and contemptuous attitude of those misinformed people whom believe the motion picture, Reefer Madness, should have won an academy award for “Best Picture,” when it was released/made public.

        The entire tone of the measure is Nixonian with permit able growing restricted in such a way as to discourage those who benefit from using pot. They don’t calculate the expense of adding an addition to one’s house, or converting an old shed or barn into an acceptable area for growing cannabis. I suspect those behind the measure, as written, are the know nothings about the subject I referred to before. What else is planned; forbidding planting of any trees which exude pollen and aggravate people’s asthma. Worse yet, removing such trees from one’s land. It all just gets curiouser and curiouser.

  2. Is there an assumption made here that everyone using prescribed medical cannabis (or their caretakers) has knowledge of how to grow pot?

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