San Andreas, CA — Three months after Calaveras County’s ban on commercial cannabis went into full effect growers who had received licenses and renewed them along with applicants in all stages of the registration process are hearing they will be getting some fee money back.
According to County Planning Director Peter Maurer, the first round of refunds will be going to 26 registrants who operated a total of 28 medical marijuana grow sites. “The [former regulatory] ordinance required that they had to renew within the year after the initial registration was issued and some were issued in October and the months following in 2016, 2017 and early 2018 before ban went into effect.”
He says that the registrants in this group will be receiving about $130,000 from the regulatory registration fund, for which the fee was $5,000. The commercial medical marijuana growers in this group, who are currently being contacted, will sometime after Oct. 15 be able to go to the Planning Department’s website to download a form that can be filled out and returned in order to claim the refund.
Maurer additionally shares that the county is currently reviewing state laws, “making sure we are dotting our I’s and crossing our t’s properly,” before proceeding to phase two of the process, through which the county will work to disperse the estimated remaining $800,000 in the fund.
‘730-some’ Eligible For Partial Refund
“The balance can be refunded to anyone, whether they were approved, denied, or we just never finished their application,” he explains. “You know, divide [the total] by 730-some [applicants] — and we are trying to figure out that exact number now -– and it is one of the things we are working on, to figure that out.” Based on the rough estimated figure, he says it would constitute a refund of a little over $1,000 per application.
“Had we continued on with the program and done all the inspections, we probably have spent all that money…the fee would have been used and that would have been the end of the story,” Maurer maintains. “But because the program ended and there was money left over, we do not really have a right to that money under state law. So while there are procedures to retain that over time if that money goes unclaimed, people can claim a portion of that money and have a portion returned.”
Asked about the actual costs involved in processing the applications, Maurer says costs were not tracked by individual permit and that procedurally, it was handled similarly to the flat fees his office charges for a conditional use permit, whether they are approved or not. He says that some take 20 hours and others take 200 hours, so the set charge is designed to consider the average administrative costs involved.
Just Who Will Be Able To Apply
While he has no timeframe yet for when the larger group will be contacted, Maurer expects it is possible that it will be a few weeks following his office’s outreach to the renewal registrants. Part of the issue is verifying the exact number of those who would be entitled to the reimbursement, according to Maurer. He describes those who will be able to apply for the partial refund of the filing fee as anyone who had not already received a refund because they withdrew early; anyone who was approved or denied; those among the 72 applications that were in a pending status.
Among the complicating issues, “A lot of people have moved — and a lot of the addresses we got from the very beginning were inaccurate and we have had trouble reaching the people,” he confides. Since the county will not be simply sending out checks to the latest mailing address on file, those hoping to get a slice of the remaining funds will have to submit a formal request — and be an actual applicant who filled the related paperwork and paid the fee.
Maurer adds that the final hoop for his office to issue the partial refund check will be to verify each applicant’s identities to make sure it matches the name on the registration.