As part of the county’s conclusion of the commercial medical cannabis regulatory program, growers across 28 cultivation sites are being refunded $5,000 each for renewal registration fees paid over the 90 days between the adoption and enforcement of the commercial cannabis ban, according to a county administrative office press release dated Sept. 6.

Growers will be reimbursed by Oct. 15, according to Calaveras County Chief Administrative Officer Timothy Lutz.

Many farmers had to match the initial $5,000 in registration fees paid in early 2017 to remain in compliance with state law, Lutz explained. Although some growers may have paid before the ban was enacted, a number paid afterward in order to renew their license and legally sell their product between February and June, Lutz said.

Even with renewal fees reimbursed, there will still be finances left in the regulatory fee fund, according to Lutz. After further review and a complete accounting of costs of the program, remaining funds may be “dispersed on a pro rata basis to other participants in the commercial cannabis regulatory program.”

While satisfied with growers being refunded for renewal fees, Calaveras Cannabis Alliance Executive Director Trevor Wittke was concerned that funding for the Regulatory Program was misappropriated, pointing to $170,000 in registration fees being administered toward the county’s environmental impact report for the proposed Medical Cannabis Cultivation and Commerce Ordinance – funding which should’ve been used for processing growers’ applications, according to Wittke.

“I think this is a good first step, but we still need a full and complete accounting of the program,” Wittke said. “This is more about public trust than about cannabis. As people who paid in, we need to know how our money was spent and whether funds were misappropriated.”

The county has recently been served a class action complaint seeking $16.3 million in compensation for recovery of Measure C taxes obtained in 2017.

Regarding that litigation, Lutz asserted, “the county’s position continues to be that it (Measure C) was a voter-approved tax and that it was legally collected.”

The first court date is set for Dec. 5, 2018, at 1:30 p.m. in the Calaveras Superior Court, though either party can request a change of venue before that time, according to Lutz.

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Reporter

Davis graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in Environmental Studies. He covers environmental issues, agriculture, fire and local government. Davis spends his free time playing guitar and hiking with his dog, Penny.

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