Angels Camp cannabis donation

Angels Camp Police Chief Todd Fordahl speaks before the Angels Camp City Council Tuesday about a donation that would have provided a student resource officer at Bret Harte High School. The school has been without one for the past three years.

The Angels Camp City Council voted to reject a hefty donation from the Calaveras Cannabis Alliance Tuesday that would have allowed for a student resource officer at Bret Harte High School.

The donation was shot down because, though it was fully legalized through California’s Proposition 64 last year, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance according to the federal government, a consensus of the council agreed.

Any threat against the city may not transpire, City Attorney Derek Cole said. The Trump administration has hinted it may crackdown in states that have legalized recreational cannabis, but Angels Camp is smaller than many of the municipalities the federal government may pursue, Cole added.

“I would say the risks are theoretical,” he said. “They’re there on paper and need to be discussed.”

The donation, $60,000, was significant. It would have funded a resource officer at the high school that lost the position three years ago when private donations disappeared and budgets began to shrink, Angels Camp Police Chief Todd Fordahl said after the meeting.

The donation was originally given to Bret Harte before the school forwarded the details to the City Council for approval. Though council members rejected the philanthropy, the council encouraged the CCA to give money to a nonprofit or create pamphlets highlighting the impacts of marijuana on an adolescent brain.

Meg Gonsalves, chief financial officer for the CCA, said Wednesday the donation, pledged by a lot of different groups within the advocacy organization that represents cannabis farmers, would have funded a year’s salary for the position.

“The information was brought to us, the need for the position. I, myself, am very saddened. I think everyone at the CCA would be,” Gonsalves said. “The position needs to be filled. It’s very important.”

The denial of the $60,000 donation is just another development in the saga of philanthropy from the CCA that has caused unrest recently. Last week, representatives with the Area 12 on Aging said members of their Joint Power Authority Board of Directors had to delay budget extensions to the Common Ground Senior Services while lawyers determine whether the nonprofit that serves seniors in the area should have accepted a vehicle donation from the CCA.

Gonsalves said the CCA has been donating to nonprofits for years. She said they have funded a scholarship at Bret Harte for the past two years. She added the county is about to receive millions in taxes from cannabis farmers via Measure C.

“I’m kind of at a loss why this is becoming an issue now,” Gonsalves said. “If the county can receive tax funds from farmers, then why can’t a nonprofit accept donations from another nonprofit that does not conduct any type of sale of medicinal cannabis?”

Fordahl said he is currently pursuing a three year, $800,000 Proposition 47 grant from the Bureau of State and Community Corrections for an officer and a counselor that would be employed full-time by the Resource Connection. He said he will know whether or not the city received the grant by the end of July.

The grant would afford an officer for Angels Camp schools. But other areas in a county that does not have a full-time resource officer have expressed desire to collaborate in the grant moving forward.

“After we applied, word spread,” Fordahl said.

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