Fear and loathing in Nevada County over Measure S

Patricia Smith, The Union (Op-ed)

Politics can get pretty ugly, so no one should be surprised at the campaign against Measure S. From Sheriff Royal’s refusal to openly debate the issue in a neutral setting to the recent arrest of one of our Executive Committee members, the county has taken dirty politics to a new low.

Sheriff Royal rejected the Banner Grange Hall as being “too biased,” so we searched for an alternative venue. The Rood Center was suggested, but is there a more biased venue for arguing a county ordinance in Nevada County? When no other venue seemed to be available, ASA reluctantly agreed to hold the debate there, but at the last minute Paul Emery was able to secure the historic Nevada Theatre. It seemed the perfect solution, especially since the theater is twice the size of the Rood Center to accommodate the large crowd that is expected.

However, that was not to be. Sheriff Royal raised some tepid arguments about lack of parking, inadequate time to promote the event, and posed that he wouldn’t get an impartial audience at the Nevada Theatre. None of these complaints hold water. Parking in Nevada City on a Tuesday night is never a problem and with The Union and KVMR sponsoring the event, there was plenty of time to promote the debate. As far as drawing a balanced audience, both sides would have an equal opportunity to have their supporters show up for the debate.

We plan on hosting a Town Hall Forum at the Nevada Theatre at 6 p.m. today as planned and invite everyone who is interested in learning about Measure S to attend. Questions will be taken from the audience; and we welcome hard questions from dissenters. You can bet we would not receive the same consideration at the Rood Center. Why is the county so intent on stifling our side of the conversation?

The same day Sheriff Royal withdrew from the debate, his officers arrested Brad Peceimer for obstruction of justice and cultivation. The whole incident reeks of political sabotage. His obstruction charge was the result of asking to see a warrant before allowing officers to enter his home. He was thrown to the ground so forcefully that his big toenail was ripped off to the quick, he suffered multiple cuts, scrapes, and bruises, and his clothes were torn. An absolutely unnecessary show of force.

His lawyer has advised him to not make public comments, but I feel I need to set a few things straight as his case won’t be adjudicated until after the election is over, which was clearly the plan. Brad’s first wife, Mary, died of cancer. Because he saw how much cannabis helped relieve her discomforts, he decided to help other patients in need. Brad’s collective grew so large, it couldn’t be accommodated on one property, so he expanded to a second location. This is not illegal under California state law or the County ordinance and, in fact, it’s the responsible thing to do to prevent overlarge grows on one property.

As a precaution, Brad had copies of all of his patient recommendations at both sites, which more than adequately covered the number of plants he was growing rather than dividing the recommendations at both sites. This doesn’t mean that he was doubling the number of plants he grew by using each recommendation twice.

The clones Brad grew were the high CBD strains that are so hard to find and in such demand. These are the strains that do not get you high, but do have enormous medical value, especially at fighting childhood epilepsy and combating PTSD. He gives these plants to any patient who wants to grow their own medicine — also not illegal.

The County’s cultivation ordinance does not contain criminal sanctions and Brad didn’t violate state law, so why was he arrested rather than given a citation? Why was he the only person involved in the Collective that was arrested? Why did the Sheriff broadcast the news of his arrest? Now it turns out that the pictures used as evidence of his grow aren’t even from his property.

The answer is as troubling as it is obvious that Brad was arrested to persuade people to vote against Measure S. The county showed an unwillingness to consider patient’s needs when they passed the cultivation ordinance, which continues today.

The recently approved Outdoor Event Ordinance has opened many people’s eyes to the heavy-handed and poorly thought-out manner in which the County has attempted to criminalize land use issues.

Patricia Smith is chair of Americans for Safe Access, Nevada County.