A scattered stack of $100 bills in USD.

Austin Kirk

Calaveras County, CA Has Collected $3.7M in MMJ Fees But Hasn’t Awarded a Single License

Despite collecting more than $3.7 million in fees, not a single cannabis farm has been approved by California’s Calaveras County Planning Commission, according to a Calaveras Enterprise report. More than three months after the deadline for applicants, 27 applications have been denied and just three of those denials have been appealed to the Board of Supervisors.

In total, the Planning Department has received 995 registration applications; 181 for personal-use cultivation, 740 for commercial cultivation, and 74 for caregivers. Fees for commercial cultivation licenses run $5,000 annually; personal cultivator license fees cost $100 per-year and caregivers must pay $200 a year. The money from the fees can only be spent on enforcement and the cannabis registration program. So far, the department has billed $304,425.31 for salaries, benefits, services, and supplies.

Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors has used the proceeds from the fees to hire a new sergeant and six deputies for the Sheriff’s Office, and hired 29 full-time and part-time positions to serve the medical cannabis program.  

In a report outlining the current problems beleaguering the program, Planning Director Peter Maurer said that the lack of issued licenses is due to the “complexity of review by multiple departments and the need to verify each item before issuing a registration.”

“Once we find a point where the applicant has failed to comply with the ordinance, we stop the process and issue a denial. There’s no reason to take valuable staff time to continue once we’ve reached that point,” he said in the report.

Maurer said he has increased his staff from six to 10 to help process applications. The department had initially planned to process 300 to 400 applications but had “conservatively budgeted for 200.”

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