Jason Cowan
The Union Democrat

The Calaveras County Board of Supervisors approved a $32,000 interagency agreement Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Agency to assist with illegal cannabis eradication.

The grant extends from Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30.

Capt. Jim Macedo of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office said much of the funding will go toward helicopter expenses and overtime costs. He said they use helicopters during eradication for surveillance and short-term hauls, and pay overtime to deputies who participate in eradication efforts.

Sheriff Rick DiBasilio warned county supervisors Tuesday not to get too comfortable receiving grants for eradication. He said the county needs to fund the Sheriff’s Office, which has been underfunded for “many, many years.”

The concept of funds available to enforce a ban has been a hot topic with an all-mail election looming to determine the fate of the county’s marijuana industry. Bill McManus, a proponent of the Calaveras marijuana ban, said during public comment at least $5 billion is eligible federally.

“It doesn’t mean we’ll get it,” McManus said.

DiBasilio said the federal government has washed its hands of marijuana enforcement at the state level.

“I would like to know where the $5 billion is coming from,” he said.