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Green Rush Goes Bust In Calaveras County

SAN ANDREAS (CBS SF) -- When cannabis cultivation became legal in Calaveras County 18 months ago, Jeremy Maddux and his wife Michele bought in big time.

They shelled out more than six figures to set up their new cannabis business, hoping to cash in on the green rush.

"We used our inheritance -- pretty much everything thinking here's a chance to get a piece of the green rush," Jeremy Maddux told KPIX 5.

The Madduxs followed all the rules and set up a top of the line organic growing operation. Meanwhile, the county collected millions in fees and taxes and granted licenses to more than 300 qualified and vetted growers including the Madduxs.

But now the county leaders say they have changed their minds. Several newly elected conservative members of the Board of Supervisors do not want to allow marijuana farming. By a 3-2 margin, they have banned it.

"The day after we paid our taxes, the painful taxes, the day after they ban it," Jeremy Maddux said. "According to 3 members of the board that feel banning is the proper way."

Calaveras County Supervisor Dennis Mills says local residents have complained about the farms. He voted for the ban citing everything from illegal irrigation to dangerous chemicals being used to armed guards protecting the farms.

"What we didn't think through is we were giving people permits to grow in rural residential areas, but we were never allowing the neighbors to have a say," he said. "So there's the conflict right there."

Maddux said the core of the conflict is fears generated by illegal growers. He said the legal growers were willing to help eradicate the illegal grows and also to provide funds for additional law enforcement.

"There's so much bigotry and hatred that comes from a group of people that lump us in with illegal growers as if we're criminals," he said. "We're not criminals. We're part of the community."

And the legal growers are not about to be forced out without a fight. A recall effort has been launched against the supervisors who voted for the ban while lawsuits are sure to follow.

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