ORDINANCE was discussed to a full house at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting Tuesday, August 18th in Loyalton. Supervisor Scott Schlefstein said a petition had started in his district and felt the discussion needed to focus on plant counts. He stated the proposal was to limit plants lower than the 72 allowed now and thought some reasonable modification could be done to the existing ordinance. Schlefstein wanted to discuss a licensing and fee structure like dog licenses to help reimburse county staff time and ensure the County keeps track. He wanted to try and balance everybody’s rights and opened the meeting up for public comments.
From the audience a Sierra Brooks resident stated they have seen several large grows pop up in the community. She didn’t have a problem with outdoor grows, but had a problem with 60-70 plants. She felt co-ops and collectors were taking place. She’s heard about a grow that backs up to a day care center and felt they needed to protect property values and their way of life.
Another audience member stated this was a very emotional subject for people suffering with injuries and pain. He managed his pain with medical marijuana, and stated this was a very personal issue. He worried how people would look at them now that the public knows he uses medical marijuana, and pleaded with the Board to respect the dignity of the people. He felt like the mindset was not an accurate one and hoped the Board would keep this in consideration.
Four “heavily invested Sierra County moms” from Sierra Brooks said they had started the petition as they noticed their community rapidly changing. They had over 260 signatures and many of their supporters were raised here, adding it was not just a Sierra Brooks issue. They stated they fully supported medical marijuana and were not against it, but felt it was personal so it should stay personal. They said 72 plants was not personal use. They worried the community would be less desirable and hoped the Board would consider something more constrictive. A list was read of ordinance changes they would like to see considered which included; limiting greenhouse cultivation to four plants for parcels under an acre, scaling up to only 10 plants outdoors for parcels 5 acres in size or larger. For indoor it would allow 12 plants on all parcels. Both indoor and greenhouse may be grown but combined total must be no more than 12; cultivators must be full time Sierra County residents; cooperative gardens prohibited; no distinction between mature and immature plants; and all cultivators should be registered with Sierra County. The group also wanted grows at least 1,000 feet from bus stops, but Schlefstein stated bus stops were not specified.
Another audience member stated she felt she was being targeted for being honest, by having her grow outdoors, adding she was not cheating anybody and said they were “counting their chickens before they hatch,” as a lot can happen with outdoor grows like too much rain, cold temperatures, and rodents. She added there were a lot of misconceptions. She has been living in Sierra County for 11 years and was not here to take advantage of the law. She concluded by stating, “Why is it o.k. to put your rules on everybody else.”
A Loyalton resident stated he planted 25 seeds this year and got 13 plants and only seven are female.
Supervisor Lee Adams said the present ordinance was about a year old and they had had several committee and public meetings. He said they realized it’s a changing world and tried to strike a balance. He said Sierra Brooks can make the ordinance more re-mind everyone whatever they do can always be changed and felt Sierra County was more liberal with plant counts than many other counties.
Schlefstein thought the topic would be better served in a committee meeting and wanted to direct the same committee who worked on the ordinance before. Adams said he would like to see hearings on both sides of the county. Schlefstein encouraged the audience to come to the committee meetings or write letters to have their voice heard. Chairman Jim Beard told the audience that this was a long process that wouldn’t happen overnight. He said any ordinance takes 30 days to take effect, adding it would not affect this year’s growing season.