This year only, authorities have brought down approximately 30000 plants grown without permission in a county that is yet to accept marijuana cultivation before statewide legalization. Marijuana has caused divisions in broke Calaveras County and others where growers are more and more launching operations and have begun to influence neighborhoods.
Pot farmers operating legally, say they are helping the local economy grow and have threatened to sue over attempts to stop them. Growing, selling and transporting weed licenses will be issued in January for recreational purposes in California. It has been 20 years now since the state authorized drug consumption only when the doctor recommends
Farmers are now allowed to grow marijuana for recreational consumption next year. However, local permit is required before making an application for a state license causing a rumble in pot-friendly counties. Calaveras County legalized marijuana cultivation last year, seeking to tax the hundreds of farms that popped up in the region after the 2015 wildfire that destroyed more than 500 homes
250 applications are projected by county officials by 2016 deadline. The already approved applications are 200 with similar number also rejected and others in process. The sheriff goes home with fees and taxes close to $10 million which is paid by legal farmers to clean-up illegal growths, many of which have been mapped from the air.
A bustling industry has been brought by the new pot sales 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.
In local hardware stores’ gardening sections are now stocked with extra farming supplies. Law enforcement officials say they have raided farms that have pesticides that are not allowed in the U.S and they have found them.
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.
In Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties, about 3500 farmers have already made applications for local permits and will soon get state licenses according to The California Growers Association.
On top of that, 29,000 farmers have not made applications for the licenses according to the group.
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 eyeing 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 have been delays of the formal votes because of 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.”
According to witke and other farmers, they strongly believe that they are providing jobs that pay better to the young people. 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,” Bolger 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. In late September, deputies and seized more than 300 plants. Deputies’ raided two firms raided two farms sharing a waterline west of Copperopoli and 30000 plants were seized. A 22 year-old, Ryu Lee who was one of them told deputies escorting him to jail that he would return regardless of whether the ban is enacted.