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Nevada County Bans Outdoor Marijuana Grows

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Nevada County supervisors voted this week to ban all outdoor grows, but are allowing indoor grows of 12 plants.

Yuba County supervisors voted last Spring to implement a similar ban.

And though the Yuba County board wishes to maintain its ban, it did vote Tuesday to "accept the Certificate of Sufficiency from the Elections Clerk" for a measure on the June ballot that would make the county's outdoor growing ordinance more grower-friendly.

John Nicoletti is a Yuba County Supervisor. He says the county's previous ordinance was "liberal" in the number of plants allowed.

"It kind of created a gold rush. It created an influx of people from all over the United States. It was an absolute unintended consequence. We were dealing with local issues and it had a very global appeal. In response to that, we had to take corrective measures."

Nicoletti says the environmental damage from the grows has also been significant.

Patricia Smith is with the pro-marijuana group, Americans For Safe Access. She says the new ordinance prevents outdoor growers from sharing with people who can't grow their own.

"It makes each patient responsible for growing their own medicine. It doesn't matter if you're 98 years old and feeble. It doesn't matter if you're a five-year-old child with epilepsy."

Another Yuba County ballot measure would allow medical-marijuana dispensaries. Both ballot measures are on the ballot as a result of petitions, not because the supervisors voted to put them there.

The Nevada County Board of Supervisors passed an emergency ordinance that bans outdoor marijuana cultivation. It has also voted to put the ban before voters on the June 7 ballot.

The previous ordinance was based on lot size, not crop production. Sheriff Keith Royal says his office has received more than three hundred complaints since the county enacted outdoor regulations in 2012. He proposed the emergency ordinance that supervisors approved Tuesday.

"What we saw were these monster gardens -hundreds upon hundreds of plants- far outside the criteria that was established oringinally in the ordinance."

He says growers made it difficult for deputies to identify who was in compliance.

"When we set a parameter of no outdoor grardens, and you have a garden outdoor, it's a real simple investigation."

He says a 12-plant indoor limit is equally easy to enforce. 

Smith says a 12-to-18 percent yield from an indoor grow would not be enough to meet the need.

"Twelve plants in doors will yield a few pounds if you're making tinctures, which most patients use these days. That will last you maybe a few months."

In March, the State of California will set marijuana rules for cities and counties that have none of their own.

This week, Livermore banned commercial outdoor cultivation. 

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