Prosecuters May Change Grow Limits


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Limits on the number of marijuana plants people with doctors' recommendations are allowed to grow in Nevada County may become more stringent in coming months, as the district attorney-elect re-evaluates local standards for cultivation of the drug.

Grow lights for an indoor medicinal marijuana farm may have allegedly sparked a fire on Rapp Road in Penn Valley last Friday that destroyed a two-story farmhouse; the renters had valid recommendations to grow marijuana.

No arrests were made and fire officials say the cause is still under investigation, but the incident is one of many that has caused local law enforcement officials to examine the pitfalls of local medicinal marijuana standards.

"There are some serious concerns regarding the size of grows in residential communities," said Nevada County District Attorney-Elect Cliff Newell, slated to take office Jan. 8. "There are dangers from fire, and people trying to rob fields as plants mature. I know of large grows where there are children running around and people use dogs to guard (plants)."

He said in coming months - before the growing season starts in May, 2007 - he will meet with law enforcement officials to develop new standards for growing.

California voters passed Prop. 215 in 1996, which allows Californians to cultivate and possess marijuana for medical purposes, although possession of marijuana for any reason violates federal law. Local jurisdictions drafted standards on the amount of marijuana people with valid doctors' recommendations can have.

On June 14, 2000, Nevada County law enforcement officials including District Attorney Michael Ferguson, Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal, Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster and Nevada City Police Chief Lou Trovato signed a memorandum of understanding clearly outlining local standards.

The document states, "Based upon verification of a valid or written recommendation and absent evidence of sales or possession for sale, a person with such a recommendation from a physician shall be allowed to possess no more than 2 pounds of marijuana. Such person shall be allowed to cultivate between five and 10 marijuana plants; however, the expected yield from such plants should be no more than 2 pounds of processed marijuana."

But in the years since the agreement was reached, people have consistently exceeded the allowable amount.

"They're entrepreneurial in their growing," said Nevada County Sheriff's Lt. Ron Smith. "People are taking advantage of the law."

Newell said modern growers have become more sophisticated in their cultivation, cloning plants to create all females and genetically altering plants to produce higher quality and quantity.

"The technical capability of growers has increased from 10-15 years ago," he said.

Many homes with marijuana farms are tended by several people, each with their own medical recommendation. And several doctors in the area, he said, willingly write recommendations.

"Everyone has a recommendation," Smith said. "There are a lot of them. I see young adults with recommendations and I think 'What could be wrong?'"

He said many young people tell him that they are using marijuana to treat depression.

He said he supports people who use the drug for valid medical reasons, such as treatment for chronic pain or nausea from chemotherapy, but those cases are in the minority.

And the large indoor grows, he said, are posing a risk to the public.

"There's no guidebook on how to set up a grow," he said. "There's Mylar for the walls, a lot of wiring, lights, timers and fertilizer. It can get dangerous."

Newell said he will take Smith's and others' concerns into account during his re-evaluation.

"I'm not going to make any unilateral decisions without consulting with doctors and law enforcement first," he said. "It is reasonable to assume we'll be lowering the amount grown."

Newshawk: User - 420 Magazine
Pubdate: December 2006
Author: Robyn Moormeister
Copyright: 2006
Website: News headlines for Grass Valley and Nevada City California


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"Growing" pains.. in Nevada for medical marijuana laws. :laugh2: :peace:
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