Medical marijuana growers sue Yuba County
After months of threats, medical marijuana growers in Yuba County have taken the next step and filed a formal civil complaint over the county's new nuisance ordinance for marijuana cultivation.
The complaint filed in Yuba County Superior Court, which the county was formally served with Monday, states the ordinance adopted by supervisors in May is overly restrictive and runs afoul of state law. It seeks to overturn the ordinance.
Nate Bradley, a Sacramento consultant working with a coalition of medical marijuana patients and caregivers who filed the complaint, said it is only the first step in the process.
Next week, the same plaintiffs will file a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the ordinance from being enforced, with hopes of a hearing soon for a judge to decide if the order should go into effect, Bradley said.
"We understand the need for the ordinance," Bradley said, adding several plaintiffs were part of an ad hoc committee with two county supervisors to craft one all sides could live with.
"It's kind of at the point where they ignored the amendments we gave to them," he said. County officials and supervisors created the ordinance, which went into effect June 1, in response to dozens of complaints by residents about the strong smell of marijuana in their neighborhoods. Some also had concerns about potential crime from thieves spotting prominent marijuana grows.
The county's ordinance placed limits on the number of plants, the amount of ground the plants could be grown on, and the types of parcels where they could be grown.
But the complaint states the ordinance doesn't address collectives, where one person might grow several plants on behalf of others, beyond the six-mature-plant limit stipulated in the ordinance.
Kathie Thelen, a plaintiff in the complaint and a Browns Valley resident who runs a collective for nine patients, said she believes there are better solutions than what the county came up with.
"Unless you're in a helicopter, you're not going to see my garden," she said, adding she got into medical marijuana because it was far better for her than pharmaceutical drugs she had taken over a decade to cope with pain.
"I preach talking to your neighbors. People know when you're doing it for the right reasons," Thelen said.
Thelen said she respects and likes the county officials she has worked with, and believes the legal action could result in an ordinance used as a precedent elsewhere.
County spokesman Russ Brown said the county had received the complaint, and referred it to the county counsel's office.
Beyond that, he said, the county doesn't comment on pending litigation.
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