The future of cannabis in Calaveras County hung on threads of indecision and strands of obstinance Thursday evening as the five elected members on the Board of Supervisors could not even decide on when to bring a draft of a new law back for a final vote, or which draft.
At 6:45 p.m. the board finally voted 3-2 to have county staff bring back both a draft regulatory law and a draft ban law, with Jack Garamendi, District 2, and Michael Oliveira, District 3, opposed. County staff and the board agreed to bring the draft laws back for a vote by supervisors at 9 a.m. Jan. 10.
Peter Maurer, the county planning director, said he can bring drafts of a new law to ban or regulate cannabis cultivation and related commercial activities before the end of this calendar year, but indicated it would be early January before the elected board will be able to make a final vote.
It was another long day for pro-regulation and pro-ban supporters who sat past sundown through all-day deliberations Tuesday and Thursday this week in San Andreas.
The board spent hours Thursday on details including whether to allow growers to self-transport marijuana, state farm labor laws and what kind of structures to require on licensed pot farms, and how big cannabis grows would be allowed under a possible regulatory law.
Before it became clear the board would not vote and make a final decision on Thursday, Maurer distributed maps to help illustrate parcel sizes and zonings while the Board of Supervisors continued working on a new cannabis law.
Meanwhile, two registered cannabis growers in Calaveras County, Andrew Greer, of Golden State Herb Inc., and Adam Ray, have filed a class action claim for refunds of Measure C cannabis taxes against Calaveras County and the county tax collector-treasurer.
Calaveras County Measure C was enacted Nov. 8, 2016, and called for a $2-per-square-foot tax on outdoor grows or greenhouse grows. A grower with a maximum-size pot farm of 22,000 square feet had to pay $44,000 in Measure C taxes.
Crystal Keesey with Eastside Environmental said she works on cannabis farm permitting projects in Calaveras County. She said as of Thursday afternoon Greer and Ray were the sole plaintiffs.
The list of plaintiffs will grow as word of the class action gets out, Keesey said. The legal action was served to Calaveras County’s counsel and tax collector-treasurer on Wednesday.
According to the growers’ class action filed by Oakland attorney William Panzer, Calaveras County was not authorized to impose the Measure C cannabis tax on Greer, Ray and other growers in Calaveras County due to changes in state codes.
The total demanded to be refunded will be the entire Measure C tax payments for all individuals in the class action, which could include up to $7.4 million from the first installment and an unspecified amount collected from the second installment due Dec. 15, 2017, said Keesey said.
Exact numbers of taxes collected will be determined by Barbara Sullivan, the county tax collector, Keesey said.
“They haven’t collected very much for the second installment yet because it is not considered ‘late’ until January 15, and because of the volatile nature of the regulations right now,” Keesey said. “Many growers, if zoned out, will not pay their taxes.”
Reached Thursday afternoon, Panzer emphasized the class action is a claim, not a lawsuit. A lawsuit is possible at a future date.