Hundreds of people filed for permits to grow marijuana legally in Calaveras County three years ago, hoping to cash in on what looked to be a promising industry.
But last year, a newly formed Board of Supervisors reversed course, instituting a ban on growing pot in the Mother Lode community.
Now, the county is refunding almost a million dollars to more than 700 farmers who paid to grow commercial marijuana. In total, growers paid $3 million in application fees and contributed $10 million in taxes to the county program.
Grower Bill Wilson wants some of that money back.
“Many people in this program lost money,” he said. “Personally we lost over $100,000 in the program.”
But resident Vicky Reinke argued against a refund, saying that the application form noted that fees were non-refundable.
“The fee collected is non-refundable,” she said. “How much clearer can that be? It was in bold letters. It wasn’t hidden.”
Supervisor Gary Tofanelli said it’s time to bring the program to an end.
“I would just like to see it closed out,” he said. “It’s no different than giving refunds for excess property taxes, but I do know this program itself is over and I don’t want to continue it at all.”
The board voted 4-to-1 to approve the refunds.