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Update: Calaveras Supes Ban Cannabis Industry After Tempestuous Session

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Update at 5:20 p.m.: After months of often divisive board politics while attempting to accommodate resident factions split over commercial marijuana the Calaveras supervisors opted to ban it.

By a narrow 3-2 decision the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors wound down a full day devoted to figuring out whether they would replace the county’s urgency ordinance permitting medical commercial grows with a much more restrictive set of rules or an outright ban.

The latter was always the preference of District 4 and District 5 Supervisors Dennis Mills and Clyde Clapp. In the end it was District 1 Supervisor and newly installed Board Chair Gary Tofanelli who swung the vote their direction. It was he who last fall signaled that he might support stiff regulations, outlining a list that formed the basis of a draft regulatory proposal.

District 3 Supervisor Michael Oliveira, who for months rode the fence while serving as Board Chair, cast a nay vote with District 2 Supervisor and pro-regulation advocate Jack Garamendi.

In post-decision comments that he addressed both to his colleagues and the audience, Oliveira maintained that the board did the public a disservice by trying to re-corral a horse that was already out of the barn, also publicly stating a long-held opinion that the decision was bigger than five men and deserved to be brought to a public ballot.

Original Post at 1:42 p.m.: San Andreas, CA — An already heated special session today to hash out local rules regarding commercial marijuana grows in Calaveras County was interrupted by a ruckus requiring officials to literally clear the room.

By around the 11 a.m. hour, rising tempers in the room generated increasingly unruly comments from the audience, divided between pro-ban and pro-regulation supporters. Some members of the crowd aired grousings over their displeasure that the board did not support voting in 2017 Vice Chair District 2 Supervisor Jack Garamendi to head the board, instead relegating him to serve again in the same role. Newly appointed Board Chair and District 1 Supervisor Gary Tofanelli broke in to chide the audience for not showing respect.

Addressing the room in a stern tone, he stated, “Everybody in here if you are an American citizen, raise your hand — please, right now. We are all American citizens and we have the right to speak here — and even if you are not you have the right to have your opinions heard by this board, and have it heard free and clear without any disparaging remarks from anybody — hold them to yourselves, please.” Continuing, he advised, “If you want to go outside and talk about it, go outside. But inside these board chambers we will respect each and everybody in here, thank you.” His words themselves drew “thank yous” from some in the still volatile room.

As he called for a short break, video recording of the session ceased, after which a physical altercation reportedly broke out, triggering his decision to clear the room and adjourn the meeting until 1 p.m.

The session is now underway again. Before the end of the day the board hopes to come to at least a 3-2 vote to pass either the strict regulatory ordinance or outright ban on commercial grows that are both on the table.

If no decision is made, the board only has through Friday after which there will no longer be 30 days to enact the new rules that are supposed to replace the urgency ordinance, set to expire Feb. 14.