Marijuana growers poured into this county known for gold mines and Mark Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” hoping for a green rush after recreational cannabis was legalized in 2016. That marijuana boom ended abruptly when the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors voted to ban all commercial cultivation last month.
The debate here reflects a different side of the mania that has swept the state since the sale of recreational marijuana rolled out in January. As some places move to position themselves as marijuana havens, more conservative counties have decided they want nothing to do with cannabis—either selling it or growing it.
“It’s really simple. This isn’t grapes and it’s not tomatoes. It’s marijuana, and it’s a drug,” Angels Camp resident Vicky Reinke said.
Although 57 percent of Californians voted to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, more than a dozen counties like Calaveras voted against it. And after previously supporting it, this Northern California county has suddenly veered hard against marijuana cultivation.
The county’s stance has some growers feeling betrayed. Cultivators say they started businesses here with good intentions and want to provide tax revenue to the government. Now, they feel officials have stabbed them in the back—after taking their money.