Pubdate: Fri, 16 Oct 2015
Source: Calaveras Enterprise (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Calaveras Enterprise
Author: Dana Nichols


Calaveras Supervisors Study New State Medical Pot Regulations

If Calaveras County voters were to approve a tax of $9.25 per ounce 
on finished marijuana flowers, that tax would generate $32 million a 
year in revenue for the county, according to the president of the 
Calaveras Cannabis Alliance.

Caslin Tomaszewski spoke Thursday morning before the Calaveras County 
Board of Supervisors during a special meeting held to study the 
package of marijuana regulations signed into law last week by 
California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Those laws create a statewide system to regulate medical marijuana 
cultivation, processing distribution and sales. And they also put 
pressure on county governments to adopt their own measures to 
regulate the industry. Growers, in particular, will not be able to 
obtain state licenses unless they first obtain a license from county 

Tomaszewski said his organization supports the regulation of legal 
marijuana growers. He said he hopes Calaveras County will adopt a 
comprehensive zoning ordinance to regulate the local industry and 
will use revenues from taxes and fees on marijuana to crack down on 
competitors who operate outside the law.

"They destroy public lands. They disregard the wellbeing of their 
neighbors in pursuit of personal gain," Tomszewski said of the illicit growers.

Paul Smith, a lobbyist for the Rural County Representatives of 
California, explained the effects of the new laws to the board of 
supervisors. Calaveras County is one of 34 rural counties that make 
up the organization.

Smith said that RCRC does not oppose or support marijuana, but seeks 
to protect the interests of member counties. To that end, the group 
and others lobbied effectively to make sure that the new marijuana 
regulation laws protect the rights of local jurisdictions to control 
local land use, including the right to ban marijuana cultivation if 
they choose.

The new law also protects the rights of counties to tax marijuana, 
although any new taxes would still have to win voter approval, Smith said.

The county board of supervisors earlier this year rejected an 
opportunity to pass a zoning ordinance that would have regulated 
where and how marijuana can be grown here, including such questions 
as the odor impacts endured by neighbors.

In recent months, however, county officials have privately 
acknowledged that they are again preparing to consider some kind of 
local regulation.

Tomaszewski and two other members of the Calaveras Cannabis Alliance 
board of directors were on hand to remind county supervisors of the 
industry's economic importance here.

"This county is still reeling from the Butte Fire," said Mark Bolger, 
one of the Calaveras Cannabis Alliance board members. "I think it is 
a no brainer. We can harness the potential of the industry. I think 
it goes without saying it is the most valuable commodity in the county."

If Tomazewski's estimate of production is correct, then the county 
currently produces about 216,000 pounds of marijuana per year, or 
more than 100 tons. Competition has been driving down prices in the 
last few years, but even at $500 a pound, that crop would be worth 
$108 million a year. Some strains of marijuana sell for $1,000 a pound or more.

Still, at least some county residents don't want the industry here.

"The one sure fire way to get out of this is to just ban it," said 
Bill McManus, who regularly addresses the board of supervisors on 
marijuana-related matters.

Jed Richardson, the owner of Cave City Vineyards and also a member of 
the Calaveras Cannabis Alliance Board, said he thinks the county 
needs to rebuild its economic base.

"The cannabis industry needs to do their part to support the county 
with taxation and fees," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom