CALAVERAS COUNTY (KPIX 5) — Some residents of Calaveras County say the pot boom has turned to bust and now there’s a new movement to ban marijuana growing there.
But just six months ago, this rural county in Northern California was the center of the state’s new green rush.
Chad, a marijuana grower in the region told KPIX 5, he “pretty much invested everything, all in, expecting it to be a long term thing.”
Chad shelled out more than $20,000 in permits last year to legally grow commercial marijuana in Calaveras County.
“Invest everything in and now they’re telling us we got a year to go and they’re going to shut us down so I don’t know,” Chad said laughing nervously.
Like an estimated 750 other legally registered growers, his six figure agricultural investment may be going up in smoke.
Bill McManus with the Committee to Ban Commercial Cultivation said, “We’ve seen entire communities destroyed, the way of life, the environmental damage, generators running 24/7, the stench of pot growing in the summertime.”
McManus and his group say the once quiet foothill community has changed since the county began registering legal growers under an emergency ordinance last spring.
“Guard dogs, pit bulls running loose, we have a DA dealing with nine homicides right now. We’ve had five wildland fires caused by pot grows,” McManus said.
The group has gathered more than 5,000 signatures in what’s believed to be the first voter-initiated ordinance to ban all pot growing. It would kill the county’s pot-friendly regulations and even calls for shutting down the dispensaries.
Smiley, a Calaveras County resident, told KPIX 5, “It’s just going to go underground again.”
He said, “They’re going to still want it cause it actually works and it’s cheaper and more effective than what the doctor gives them.”
California’s passage of Prop. 64 allows individuals to grow up to six plants for personal use, but pot proponents in Calaveras County say a complete ban would only deprive tax payers of the benefits of more than $300 million in taxable crop in an already cash strapped county.
The Calaveras County board of supervisors will meet and could decide at that meeting to ban cannabis cultivation altogether or they could let the voters decide this spring.