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8.01.020 Findings and purpose.
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The Board of Supervisors of Sierra County hereby finds and declares the following:

A. In 1996, the voters of the state of California approved Proposition 215 (codified as Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11362.5 and entitled “The Compassionate Use Act of 1996”).

B. The intent of Proposition 215 was to enable persons who are in need of marijuana for medical purposes to use it without fear of criminal prosecution under limited, specified circumstances. The proposition further provides that “nothing in this section shall be construed to supersede legislation prohibiting persons from engaging in conduct that endangers others, or to condone the diversion of marijuana for nonmedical purposes.” The ballot arguments supporting Proposition 215 expressly acknowledged that “Proposition 215 does not allow unlimited quantities of marijuana to be grown anywhere.”

C. In 2004, the Legislature enacted Senate Bill 420 (codified as Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 11362.7 et seq., and referred to as the “medical marijuana program”) to clarify the scope of Proposition 215, and to provide qualifying patients and primary caregivers who collectively or cooperatively cultivate marijuana for medical purposes with a limited defense to certain specified state criminal statutes. Assembly Bill 2650 (2010) and Assembly Bill 1300 (2011) amended the medical marijuana program to expressly recognize the authority of counties and cities to “[a]dopt local ordinances that regulate the location, operation, or establishment of a medical marijuana cooperative or collective” and to civilly and criminally enforce such ordinances.

D. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 11362.83, both as originally enacted, and as amended by Assembly Bill 1300, further recognize that counties and cities may also adopt and enforce any other ordinances that are consistent with the medical marijuana program.

E. The courts in California have held that neither the Compassionate Use Act nor the medical marijuana program grants anyone an unfettered right to cultivate marijuana for medical purposes or limits the inherent authority of a local jurisdiction, by its own ordinances, to regulate the use of its land. Accordingly, the regulation of cultivation of medical marijuana does not conflict with either statute. (See Browne v. County of Tehama (2013) 213 Cal. App. 4th 704 and City of Riverside v. Inland Empire Patients Health and Wellness Center, Inc. (2013) 56 Cal. 4th 729.)

F. Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420 primarily address the criminal law, providing qualifying patients and primary caregivers with limited immunity from state criminal prosecution under certain identified statutes. Neither Proposition 215 nor Senate Bill 420, nor the Attorney General’s August 2008 Guidelines for the Security and Nondiversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use adopted pursuant to Senate Bill 420, provides comprehensive regulation of premises used for marijuana cultivation. The unregulated cultivation of marijuana in the unincorporated area of Sierra County can adversely affect the health, safety, and well-being of the county and its residents. Comprehensive regulation of premises used for marijuana cultivation is proper and necessary to avoid the risks of criminal activity, degradation of the natural environment, malodorous smells, and indoor electrical fire hazards that may result from unregulated marijuana cultivation, and that are especially significant if the amount of marijuana cultivated on a single premises is not regulated and substantial amounts of marijuana are thereby allowed to be concentrated in one place.

G. Cultivation of any amount of marijuana at locations or premises within 100 feet of schools creates unique risks that the marijuana plants may be observed by juveniles, and therefore be especially vulnerable to theft or recreational consumption by juveniles. Further, the potential for criminal activities associated with marijuana cultivation in such locations poses heightened risks that juveniles will be involved or endangered. Therefore, cultivation of any amount of marijuana in such locations or premises is especially hazardous to public safety and welfare, and to the protection of children and the person(s) cultivating the marijuana plants.

H. As recognized by the Attorney General’s August 2008 Guidelines for the Security and Non-Diversion of Marijuana Grown for Medical Use, the cultivation or other concentration of marijuana in any location or premises without adequate security increases the risk that surrounding homes or businesses may be negatively impacted by nuisance activity such as loitering or crime.

I. It is the purpose and intent of this chapter to implement state law by providing a means for regulating the cultivation of medical marijuana in a manner that is consistent with state law and which balances the needs of medical patients and their caregivers and promotes the health, safety, and welfare of the residents and businesses within the unincorporated territory of Sierra County. This chapter is intended to be consistent with Proposition 215 and Senate Bill 420, and towards that end, is not intended to prohibit persons from individually, collectively, or cooperatively exercising any right otherwise granted by state law. Rather, the intent and purpose of this chapter is to establish reasonable regulations upon the manner in which marijuana may be cultivated, including restrictions on the amount of marijuana that may be individually, collectively, or cooperatively cultivated in any location or premises, in order to protect the public health, safety, and welfare in Sierra County.

J. The limited immunity from specified state marijuana laws provided by the Compassionate Use Act and medical marijuana program does not confer the right to create or maintain a public nuisance. By adopting the regulations contained in this chapter, the county will achieve a significant reduction in the aforementioned harms caused or threatened by the unregulated cultivation of marijuana in the unincorporated area of Sierra County.

K. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to allow the use of marijuana for nonmedical purposes, or allow any activity relating to the cultivation, distribution, or consumption of marijuana that is otherwise illegal under state or federal law. No provision of this chapter deemed a defense or immunity to any action brought against any person by the Sierra County District Attorney, the Attorney General of state of California, or the United States of America. (Ord. 1055, eff. 8/21/14)

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