In northern California, 4 young men had just started their marijuana harvest when sheriffs stormed in with guns drawn. They arrested them and spent the day cutting down around bushy 150 plants with machetes. Calaveras County Sheriff Rick DiBasilio said if he had personnel, he could do it every day. He said this during the operation near the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Copperopolis. Approximately 30,000 plants grown without permits have been cut down by the authorities in the county which is reconsidering its hold of marijuana cultivation before legalization. The sheriff said that they are not ending soon because there are so many of them.
Marijuana has deeply divided financially strapped Calaveras County, among many where growers are increasingly open about their operations and are starting to encroach on neighborhoods. County population is at forty-four thousand as estimated by the sheriff and Rhode Island has more than one thousand illegal firms. In addition, there are hundreds with permits and others in the process of acquiring them. The influx has caused a hostile response among residents and led to the ouster of some leaders who approved marijuana cultivation.
Legit cannabis farmers threaten to sue them over attempts to stop them since they are helping the local economy. In January California is set to issue licenses to sell, transport and grow marijuana for recreational purposes. It has been 20 years since the state authorized the drug’s consumption with a doctor’s recommendation.
250 applications are projected by county officials by 2016 deadline. They got 770.The already approved applications are 200 with similar number also rejected and others in process
A bustling industry has been brought by the new pot firm that includes the sounds of generators, bright lights illuminating gardens at night, water trucks kicking dust to the grows, the distinct odor of marijuana, the tents, trailers and other temporary housing for migrant workers. Law enforcement officials say they have raided farms that have pesticides that are banned in the U.S. have been found. Bill McManus, head of an organization seeking to ban marijuana in Calaveras County says marijuana legalization has changed their way of life. “The environmental impacts are frightening”. Pot growing Emerald Triangle (mecca) which is to the north has been thrown into political confusion as some of the farmers are up shops before legalization.
Close to 3,500 farmers in Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties have made their applications for local permits as estimated by the California Growers Association. They will be able to receive licenses soon after. In addition to that, 29,000 farmers haven’t applied for the licenses.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman complained that local laws allowing cultivation are too lenient compared to the violent crimes, including a farm worker’s recent homicide. In Siskiyou County, they declared a state of emergency and called on the governor to help with an increase of marijuana farmers, who have filled the area despite the ban
Most farmers are applying for the huge market outside the state they are eying says lope. Some supervisors who voted to legalize marijuana in January in Calaveras County were replaced by voters. The new majority has vowed to fight legalization and institute a strict ban. There has been a delay in the formal vote severally amid threats of lawsuits from farmers. Much of this is a cultural war according to Beth Witke who further said that she is tired of being discouraged by the ban supporters.”
They are providing well paying job to the youth who otherwise would leave the county for the San Francisco Bay Area. Mark Bolger received the first permit. He said a ban would drive him and his dozen workers out.
“I’m trying to do the right thing,” Blogger said.
The sheriff said he’s focused on farmers who do not have a permit or who grow despite a rejected application. This year only he has stormed 40 farms and seized approximately 30000 plants. Towards the end of September, deputies raided two farms that share a waterline west of Copperopolis and seized more than three hundred plants.