The latest raid on a legally registered Calaveras County marijuana grow farm in which Sheriff deputies seized more than 170 pounds of processed weed and 1,300 plants, illustrates the impossible survival odds being faced by small operators in California.
Calaveras County has raked in almost $10 million in cultivation taxes since 2016 but in a shock turnabout County supervisors dashed the dreams and years of hard work of growers, giving them until the 7thJune 2018 to cease operations.
In the raid on the legally registered Railroad Flat grow, three adults were charged by Sheriff Deputies on counts of felonyand misdemeanors.
Growers threaten legal action
Growers in this rural Northern California State are not, however, going to sit back and watch their hard work go down the tubes without a fight. They feel betrayed by a system that took their hard-earned cash and then turned around and stabbed them in the back. Several registered Calaveras marijuana growers are threatening to take the matter to court.
And, according to the County Supervisor, Michael Oliveira, the growers are going to tear the County apart for taking away their rights after Calaveras palmed close on $10 million in cultivation taxes.
Pointing out that in the region of $3 million of the $10 million weed taxes was used to balance the County Budget, Oliveira says Calaveras could face multiple lawsuits from irate growers.
Calaveras Green Rush
Calaveras underwent a Green Rush when medical marijuana was legalized in California in 2016. The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors had welcomed growers with open arms after the 2015 Butte wildfire that devastated almost 71,000 acres in Calaveras and Amador counties, leaving millions of dollars of destruction in its path. The fire destroyed more than 900 buildings and some residents fled the county, never to return.
Marijuana grow farms were seen as an opportunity to generate income into this rural county of 45,000 people and they were welcomed with open arms by Calaveras officials who lured them with the promise of cheap land and friendly laws.
And so began the Green Rush and it wasn’t long before the County raked in $3.7 million in $5,000 registration fees from more than 700 eager weed growers. But that all came to a crushing end when the County Board of Supervisors suddenly placed a ban on commercial marijuana cultivation, giving growers until the end of the first week in June to cease operations.
The make-up of the County Board of Supervisors that previously sanctioned the cultivation of marijuana in Calaveras changed when anti-pot supervisors were elected to the five-member board and narrowly won their cease and desist policy with a 3-2 vote.
County Sheriff support shut-down policy
There are an estimated 1,000 weed growers in the area and they are all being targeted for shut down. And Calaveras County Sheriff, Rick DiBasilio, has stated that he supportsany policy that will provide his department with the financial means to target illegal growers. DiBasilio added that with only a handful of deputies it is difficult to “stay on top” of the situation.
Despite possible lawsuits from marijuana growers, a County Sheriff spokeswoman has warned that its Marijuana Enforcement Team will clamp down on anyone violating the laws.
Weed growers have been betrayed
Calaveras weed growers feel betrayed. Two years ago the County welcomed them with open arms and was only too happy to take their cash in registration fees and weed taxes to salvage the rural community after the devastation of the Butte wildfire. They invested their time and cash into the County but now they face ruin.
One grower says he has paid nearly six figures in marijuana taxes and permits since 2016.
Inconsistent and pious laws
This latest development in Calaveras County is a reflection of theinconsistencies that have clouded the recreational marijuana kaleidoscope since California legalized pot at the beginning of 2018.
While some counties embrace the marijuana industry as a means to fatten their coffers, others have adopted a more pious attitude with outright bans on retail outlets and grow farms.
Stuck in the middle are weed entrepreneurs and a fact that cannot be disputed is that without cultivatorsthere can be no supply chain and without a chain of supply there can be no pot industry.