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Medical pot backers cheer Yuba's new ordinance

A medical marijuana cultivation measure called the most progressive in California won Yuba County supervisors approval on Tuesday by a 4-1 vote.

"We've made history," said Sam McConnell, president of the Yuba County Growers Association.

He said every other county in the state can now follow the ordinance that succeeds a measure booed in April at a Board of Supervisors meeting as too restrictive for medical marijuana growers.

"Everybody is able to do what they need to," McConnell said of the new measure.

Attorney Jeff Lake, representing growers, said the new ordinance moves away from square footage limits for growing marijuana and instead uses a plant count. A total of 18 plants can be grown on less than an acre while up to 99 plants are allowed on more than 20 acres, he said.

The ordinance eliminates a mi demeanor provision for violators and instead allows penalties and gives Yuba County the authority to remove marijuana that doesn't follow growing guidelines. Lake said notice to the grower, the opportunity to comply as well as appeal the county decision would precede any removal.

Lake filed a legal challenge in July to the county measure for groups including the Old Crow Farm Collective and Deja Vu Collective, along with Yuba Growers. He had said the ordinance adopted in April represented a "de facto ban on medical marijuana collectives."

The ordinance adopted Tuesday allows such collectives, he said.

"Before, it was impossible," Lake said. "It's feasible now."

Loma Rica resident Sandra Eden, 50, a medical marijuana grower, attended the board meeting.

"It's wonderful," Eden said. "I'm impressed that they took the time to listen to the people."

Supervisor Roger Abe caste the lone no vote. He said he wanted to meet in closed session with the attorney representing Yuba County to further discuss the ordinance and take up the medical marijuana measure on Dec. 18.

McConnell said Abe's decision didn't surprise him.

"We expected at least one no vote," McConnell said.

Lake said the measure will be enacted after the second reading by supervisors at their next meeting and take effect 30 days later.

Lake said he would meet later Tuesday with the Nevada County chapter of Americans for Safe Access, a pro-medical marijuana group, about changing the county ordinance there regulating medical marijuana. The Nevada County measure is as restrictive as the original ordinance Yuba County adopted.

CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at rmccarthy or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.

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