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Hundreds Line Up to Become Registered Marijuana Growers in Calaveras County

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CALAVERAS COUNTY -- Some people are calling it a “green rush.

Hundreds of people are scrambling to become registered marijuana growers in Calaveras County.

With the six-week deadline approaching this Thursday, lines stretched across entire county buildings Monday and Tuesday this week.

The inside of an emptied out courtroom is now the temporary home to the Calaveras County Planning Division, which didn’t have enough room to operate in its usual office given the number of people coming in and out.

The scene was reminiscent of a crowded restaurant or DMV as hundreds of people sat and waited while a clerk called out names of people one by one, all waiting to present their registration packets to county officials in the hopes they become registered marijuana growers.

"Crowds of people, everybody anxious. People excited, some people worried. It's definitely a gold rush type of energy,” said Albert Cottrell, a marijuana grower.

Cottrell, like many others, filled out all of his paperwork and paid his $5,000 for a commercial license to grow and sell pot. It doesn't mean he'll get it, that’s simply the cost to get his registration packet looked at. Prices range from $200 for individual medical growing to $5,000 for full commercial grows.

"It's an investment, I didn't spend. That's how I see it," said Cottrell.

By the end of the day Tuesday, nearly 20 pages full of 25 names each had been signed in, all appointments for the county to see. Those potential registrants come in addition to a few hundred registrants who began the process before this week.

County officials say it’s a win-win. Hundreds of growers who've been growing illegally can come out of the shadows, and the county will soon be more aware of who's growing what, and how much.

"The more people get to see that it's a business and people are treating it the right way, the more people open up,” said Jordan Vassar, a grower himself who had been helping others understand the often complicated registration process.

"I've been growing underground for my own use all those years. It's nice that we can come out now,” said Norman Gunsell, a grower who waited for nearly seven hours Tuesday to complete the various hurdles in order to submit his pot registration.

The process isn’t an easy one, especially with demand being as high as it is. Tax agencies, land assessors, and local water departments all need to sign off on a registration before applicants bring their packets to the county. And until Thursday at 4:00, these lines aren’t getting any shorter.