Rural California County Taxes Marijuana Farms Then Vote to Ban Them

In 2016, California voted by 57% of voters decided to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. Growers popped up all over the state in counties such as Calaveras. Pot growers hoping to take advantage of the newly legalized substance began building legitimate enterprises and were more than willing to pay their fair share of taxes to the local governments. However, now that the revenue has been collected, many of the state's more conservative counties of the state that voted against the proposition are making moves to ban pot production in their areas, a move that is leaving many marijuana growers feeling betrayed and exploited. The Los Angeles Times has written an article on the matter.

Marijuana production has been seen as a viable recovery tool for the area since the 2015 Butte wildfire destroyed much of the agricultural infrastructure and severely damaged the local economy. Pot growers found incentive to move to Calaveras county due to the low cost of land. Revenue from registration fees to the local government totaled $3.7 million, a portion of the overall $10 million that has been generation from the pot industry. However, the local supervisors, led by Dennis Mills led a 3-2 decision in January to criminalize marijuana production and forcing growers to either move or cease production by July.

Supervisor Michael Oliveira, who was one of the two dissenting votes, anticipates that these growers will sue the county government over the vote. He had voted against the measure because he felt it unfairly stripped the rights of the growers away after providing money used to balance the county's budget. “It didn’t address the money we collected. They’re going to tear that apart in court," Oliveira noted to The Los Angeles Times.

Jeremy Maddux and his wife Michelle were amongst the growers affected. While the couple has worked hard to downplay the stereotype of pot growers as criminals, some of the county residents still fear the pot industry will bring violent crime. Mills also cited potential environmental concerns due to pesticides used contaminating the local waters. He also is concerned that pot production will spoil the county's rustic aesthetics. However, other growers such as Prapanna Smith feel that the ban will simply lead to illegal pot operations that will be both unregulated and leave potential tax money with criminals. The upcoming court case might ultimately decide the industry's fate.



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