From Marijuana Mecca to Dead Zone? Calaveras Voters to Consider Commercial Pot Ban
In October, California Marijuana Policy covered the booming cannabis industry in Calaveras County, where hundreds of marijuana growers have flocked to set up shop. Now, a massive pendulum swing could be afoot.
In May, voters in Calaveras will be given the option to approve a total ban on commercial pot growing in their county—a tremendous shift for a region currently awash in weed. The initiative, which will come via special election, was approved unanimously by supervisors last week after a petition garnered more than 5,000 signatures.
To understand this stark turnaround, you need to know how Calaveras became so cannabis-rich in the first place. After all, it was desperation rather than an affinity for marijuana that led Calaveras to adopt its urgency pot ordinance last year.
The county had been absolutely devastated by the 2015 Butte Fire, which is considered one of the most destructive in the state’s history, and it was searching for a way to boost anemic revenue. It worked. After greenlighting some 800 marijuana grows, cash flowed into county coffers. But disillusionment soon followed.
“When you’ve heard the stories I’ve heard, it rips your heart out,” said resident Bill McManus, who is pushing for the ban. “People who were brutalized by the Butte Fire and came back after it was cleaned up, ready for people to move back and they found that they were surrounded by pot growers.” The deluge, critics say, has led to crime, overwhelming odors and severe environmental damage.
Come May, voters will get a chance to send the growers packing. But they stand to lose a lot of green in more ways than one. Will they pull the trigger?