Nevada County, CA — Following up on last week’s decision by the Nevada County Board of Supervisors to enact an urgent ordinance eliminating outdoor marijuana grows, an anonymous tipster contacted Gish Gallop to disclose another related action taken by local authorities. According to the tipster, who appeared at Gish Gallop’s Penn Valley offices in disguise to protect his identity, following the open meeting on Tuesday, the Supervisors went into executive session with the Sheriff and County Counsel to discuss innovative ways to ensure that residents of Nevada County are in compliance with the new ordinance.
Beginning the Executive Session called at his request, the Sheriff explained to the Supervisors his plan to conduct searches of area residents’ vegetable gardens to ensure that no marijuana was being grown outdoors. He noted that if residents know that their gardens are subject to searches, this will be a huge deterrent to outdoor grows.
The Sheriff detailed that with the elimination of those pesky square footage requirements, it will be very easy to search and cite those who are growing marijuana outdoors. The tipster reported that the Supervisors (other than 5th District Supervisor Anderson), expressed enthusiastic support for the Sheriff’s adopting a “Search and Cite” enforcement program.
When contacted by Gish Gallop about this closed meeting session, new Board Chair Dan Miller confirmed that this session had taken place, but stated that he believed it wasn’t a big deal, because this new ordinance was “complaint driven,” which to him meant that if a gardener only had one or two plants, he would probably get away with it. When Gish Gallop asked if Miller’s statement would encourage disrespect of and noncompliance with the ordinance, Chairman Miller did not appear to understand the question.
“That’s not my understanding of what we may have thought we were doing,” Supervisor Miller said. “You can’t expect us to read, much less understand, all of the detail of the many very important matters we take action on. When I read the board materials, I just look for ‘key words.’ For example, if I see the words ‘defer to state regulations,’ I know that’s a bad thing, because we don’t like anything the state forces us to do. I don’t need to read everything we are adopting, as we can rely on the expert advice of the Sheriff and County Counsel in these matters.”
Gish Gallop then contacted County Counsel to verify the remarks of Chairman Miller. County Counsel was quick to blame the “lack of clarification” in these proceedings on certain manufacturing defects with the puppets who were standing in for the Supervisors at the meeting. She noted that specifically, one of the strings attached to the Miller puppet’s mouth had malfunctioned, causing the release of statements that neither she nor the Sheriff had authorized.
She went on to complain that the “Anderson puppet” had never functioned properly, but expressed hope that the County’s information technology team would be able to have the puppets functioning properly by the next Board of Supervisors meeting.
The Sheriff has additional initiatives that he will be running by the Board of Supervisors in the near future. He told Gish Gallop that other ideas he is considering are using PG&E records to detect increased electricity use to identify indoor grows and searching kitchens for edible marijuana medicine. He suggested he was investigating whether he should pursue the eradication of all skunks in Nevada County, because of the similarity in smell to that produced by marijuana gardens.
When we mentioned to the Sheriff that he seemed to be very involved in creating county policy, he described the broad powers of “Constitutional Sheriffs” to create, enforce and/or ignore laws they disagree with. He stated his belief that it was more “transparent” to have Nevada County adopt ordinances that he supported and stated that his highest calling was to “ensure a law-abiding and tranquil quality of life in Nevada County.”