CALAVERAS (CBS13) – The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to let the voters decide if legal marijuana cultivation should remain or be banned.
A debate is brewing over money, drugs, and the law.
In the rolling hills of Calaveras County, cannabis is king. But the reign may be short-lived depending on what the people decide.
Cannabis cultivation was made legal in the county in May, and since then, people opposed to the law gathered enough signatures that the board of supervisors was forced decide: accept the results of the petition, or kick it back to the voters to decide.
The board unanimously voted Tuesday to let the people make up their minds.
Marijuana growers who’ve invested thousands in their businesses spoke out about the decision.
“We’re good people just like everybody else trying to get into a business to try and bring an economic boom to the county,” said Caz Tomaszewski a marijuana grower, and head of a local cannabis organization.
“I’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Tomaszewski.
His story is similar to the nearly 800 others who applied for permits and started cannabis businesses after the board of supervisors legalized growing.
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“I’ve invested almost all of my daughter’s trust into this business — believing in the cause,” said Megan Guthrie.
Guthrie says she got into the business partly because her daughter relies on cannabis oil for health reasons and says she sees positives in the industry.
“This could really help save a lot of the woes of Calaveras County,” she explained.
Calaveras County, one of the poorest in the state, has already pulled in nearly $4 million in application fees. But opponents aren’t seeing the green benefits.
“I feel it should be banned,” said Aurora Weatherby, who helped gather nearly 5,300 signatures from people wanting to ban marijuana operations in the county.
“I personally feel that marijuana is not a good thing for Calaveras County and not good for our youth,” she continued.
“It was a huge victory for the people,” said Bill McManus, who led the effort against marijuana cultivation.
Both sides are happy voters will determine marijuana’s fate, but cultivators will likely face uneasy nights leading up to the May decision.
“As cultivators, we don’t have unemployment,” said Tomaszewski. “We don’t have access to banks and private loans. We don’t have a support system.”
The referendum will happen on May 2. Voters will have to mail in their ballots.
If a ban takes place, most of the permit and application dollars will be returned. The county could face dozens of lawsuits from marijuana cultivators.