Calaveras County Sifting Through Marijuana Growing Permit Applications

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CALAVERAS COUNTY -- Budding marijuana plants cover quite a few backyards these days in Calaveras County, as it's welcomed for anyone willing to apply for a permit to begin growing.

But not everyone who's started a grow operation will get to keep doing it.

"I think people trust the county is going to do the right thing and give people a chance. As long as everybody did everything right and how they were supposed to, hopefully that won't be an issue," said Shawn Grabow, who applied for a growers permit last month.

Grabow is among at least 900 people who applied to be a licensed grower. Like most, he paid $5,000 for a commercial license, which he won't get back if his permit is denied.

"I think we're guessing a quarter to a third of the applications won't meet the criteria," said Peter Maurer, planning commissioner.

Maurer said this week county workers have begun to sift through all applicants, deciding who can grow and who can't.

Maurer says many will be denied because they didn't begin their grows early enough. Others simply lied on their applications.

The winner though, might be the county itself.

"We've received $3.7 million in application fees. That's going to all the county departments involved," said Maurer.

That includes additional code officers to crack down on illegal grows, but is it enough?

"I wish the county would come out here and do some enforcement," said Brad Vanier, who was part of a large community that fought the county for, he says, encouraging growers to move in. He lives next door to a grow.

"They don't care about the neighborhood like we do. They're just out here to make the money ... We've called numerous times because of things that are going on detrimental to our neighborhood," said Vanier.

"There's definitely mixed feelings in the community about it," said Maurer.

County officials, though, believe legalization statewide is inevitable, they're staying ahead of the curve.

Growers like Grabow hope to do the same.

"I want to continue to have my permit and be able to do what I enjoy in a beautiful area," said Grabow.