We have voted to legalize cannabis here in California, but I'll tell you now the promises of Prop 64 are not all the pretend to be. Those of us who were acutely aware of the failures of prop 64 before it was voted on by the people of California, were mildly prepared for what we are seeing today. I say mildly because in our wildest dreams did we understand the swiftness with which this industry would be hijacked and turned into a commodity by corporate America.
COMMODITY: In economics, a commodity is an economic good or service that has full or substantial fungibility: that is, the market treats instances of the good as equivalent or nearly so with no regard to who produced them.
It seems America has taken on the role of making a commodity of whatever they think will create the most dollars from the pockets of its citizens. Its made a commodity of our healthcare, pharmaceutical and insurance marketplace and its gearing up for another grab of YOUR health care options. The following excerpt if from a blog of an industry insider chronicling daily life dealing with the fallout of the passage of prop 64. I'll be sharing more stories like this this week. As Marygold winds its way through this labyrinth of Legalization Regulations we will be sharing stories like these so that YOU THE PEOPLE can have a clear understanding of what exactly it we have been fighting for the last 18 months + a few decades.
From the front lines of the revolution
Author: Shakti Norris
Look around, take a mental photograph folks, for what we see today, is not what will be a few years from now, just like what we saw a few years ago was nothing like what we saw a few years before that and so on, exponentially. As much as propaganda would have you buying that, “legalization is for the best,” I am betting big on the contrary. At the very least legalization has cast shadows of doubt, and for many it brings the end of their very livelihoods, undoubtedly causing a ripple effect throughout the entire tri-county community.
Obviously many mistakes were made at a state-level on Prop 64 from the new DUI regulations (driving under the influence of …medicine- come again?), to the perpetuated illegality of home-growing and dispensary permit accessibility specifically for anti-cannabis counties. And impacts specifically to major cannabis farming communities like notorious Humboldt Co., are extreme as well. The local economy is currently in a grave state of collapse in and out of cannabiz as a direct result of legalization. Here are some of the biggest flaws surrounding legalization that will no doubt cause more damage to the county, while increasing the number of people in cycles of total decline:
1. Lack of cultural awareness for the free market farmer mentality nor any regard for basic economics.
Homesteaders who brought life back to Humboldt County from the decaying logging industry, represented an anti-government and anti-capitalist sentiment, some war veterans, environmentalists and general war resistors built this community. Now they are all meant to trust the capitalist-driven government, pay taxes for war, and live in opposite-land? One cannot expect literally thousands of families who have made a living growing a plant for generations to just uproot their concept of reality and pick up to work for a small fraction of what they are used to making at the gas station instead. That is not how people, careers or economies work, and especially not for self-sustaining types
2. What is it about the assumption that if you grow you are wealthy?
It seems you have to be a millionaire to get a cannabis permit and even generally wealthy to consume it legally. If you’re not rich you can’t afford to “pay to play,” As Supervisor Rex Bohn said in a general BOS meeting and District 2 Supervisor clearly doesn’t even consider small farmers in the legalization equation either. All growers are “big business” according to Estelle Fennell, who said, “We’re talking about giving big business a break and I don’t understand why,” when she spoke on behalf of her efforts to increase taxes on cultivators in the same May 23, 2017 supervisors meeting. This formula exacerbates economic inequality, and leaves the wealth and future of the community in the hands of a small minority- for better or worse.
One 2nd generation lifetime farmer we shall call “Sara” explained, “Legalization is a scam and ruining the lives of many. I can’t afford to go legal because I never blew it up, I grew just enough to support my family. That’s the case for most people I know. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part the people who can afford to go legal you’ll notice destroyed the environment, and/or took advantage of workers. So that means honest, hard working, non-profit supporting, permaculturalists such as myself are at a total disadvantage and now more pressured by government agencies and police… Ironically the damage I’d have to perpetrate to go legal according to the county- like a 3 acre conversion- is something I would never do to the land because I respect it so much.”
I also spoke with a longtime worker from the free market in District 2 (aka So. Hum.) for over 10 years, who recently made the shift to get permitted at the farm he manages, “Brown” explains, “People are going to loose their property no doubt. Mainly mom and pops, those who did the minimum, environmentalists ironically, they are all going to go out of business. Where I farm we realized the only way to make it work anymore is to run it like any other capitalist enterprise, and consider the cost of the pounds now-yikes (he noted pound prices took the sharpest decline he has ever experienced in fall of 2017). Now you got to take away the cost of the trimmer, cost of supplies, cost of legalization, taxes, employees to help, and there ain’t much left of that cherry pie, no room in our shrinking budget for what we once spent tediously nurturing high-quality cannabis. This will change the face of our community, not to mention diminish the product.”
3. The total demise of the working class.
What has sustained the majority in our community and thriving small business’ for the past two generations or more (even through the economic collapse of 2008), is undergoing a massive upheaval. It is said (NCJ) that upwards of 85% of the entire Humboldt economy is based on “black” market cannabis profits. So what happens when the free market has plummeted so hard, so fast, post legalization? Well surprise surprise just like other industries, you can no longer afford the cost of workers at all, or to frequent stores as prevalent and so bye bye economic affluence, and so long non-profits and small business’. Consequentially all across the county (in and out of the biz) you’ll notice owners laying off their work force, looking for ways to minimize costs, atomize, outsource to affordable-currency-users, cutting share-cropping out completely and determining how they will run an hourly one man ship next year, if they can afford that. The days of workers having workers are certainly over and it may even be time for property owners to learn how to work themselves-gasp.
4. Humboldt County continues to treat farmers like criminals, while simultaneously broadening criminality of cultivating, transporting and even consuming cannabis.
It’s not called Commercial Marijuana Cultivation for nothing folks. “Marijuana,” what headier cultivators and consumers commonly call “cannabis,” has always been a divisive slur. I am afraid that not much has changed since it’s racist inception, not coincidentally in 1910 only a few years before the first bill in CA was passed to ban use, prior to the infamous “refer madness” propaganda campaign which ushered in full federal prohibition in the 1930s. Over 100 years later many are still falling for the same political tactics of good guy/drug v. bad guy/drug.
Another 2nd generation small farmer “Chris” still surviving in the “free market” said, “For a legal industry it sure doesn’t feel like criminalizing our community for growing a plant is letting up at all. They are still treating farmers like drug dealers. No other industry is held to such impossible standards; what about tomatoes, wheat or corn? This isn’t legalization, this is increased criminalization and that’s why I am entirely against it. There are thousands of farmers here and probably a hundred thousand workers relying on them who are about to loose everything they have and have ever known.”
5. “Appalling” “industry interest” “backroom deal” changed the 1 Acre Cap to unlimited grow size.
The county stabbed growers and consequentially the whole community in the back by becoming prey to undisclosed “industry interests” and cutting the 1 acre cap for cultivation after taking money from farmers under completely different circumstances. This promises to bury all farmers eventually. Even our own CA State Senator McGuire can see through the lies and our community being sold out by government calling it “appalling” in an interview with Lost Coast Outpost, he states,
“No other crop in California is singled out in this manner and subjected to its own special tax by a county. The well-known wine growing counties in the state do not tax growers on the square footage of vines planted. This tax potentially sets a reckless precedent of area-based taxation on crops produced for human consumption. This proposed excise tax, as currently structured, represents yet another economic barrier for Humboldt County’s smallest, and often, most environmentally friendly cultivators.”
6. The government rarely brings sustainability to any industry, but rather an influx of environmental degradation fueled by profit motivations.
This is the most conflicting rouse I see cultivators falling for today- that the government would protect them and the planet from the “bad growers.” The reality is that it is yet to be determined, whether they deem you one of them. In addition to this irony, regulation always ends the same way, since the very first regulatory industry began in the states for railroads, then to big pharma, banking and tobacco etc.- the big money interests in that industry wind up doing all the regulating. Big pharma spends upwards of 300 billion annually on lobbying, ask yourselves how this is impacting pharmaceutical overdose, addiction and abuse? This too will exacerbate environmental damage, as is always the case throughout time. Sings of this lay plainly in the 1 acre cap change, the taxes being owed regardless of cultivation activities (pushing people to grow every year instead of intermittently), and the fact that the county has not deemed measuring environmental effects of legalization at all, proving their actual interests do not reside in protecting the land.
“People who are trying to get licenses spent several million dollars of their own money for bio-remediation, cleaning up the land and correcting problems, and when I asked the water board if anyone was measuring the effect this had on the streams and the fisheries, which is the reason it’s all being done, and the answer in short was- no. Adonna White said they had metrics, which I believe means they were measuring what is written on the application, but that’s not the same thing as getting in the water and seeing if the temperature has changed.”