Mendocino: The "Wild West" Of Marijuana

A reader writes:

I can concur with your reader about the greedy growers up here in the Emerald Triangle voting against Prop 19. I live in Mendocino County - Ukiah specifically. Just like Humboldt, Prop 19 went down in our County as well. Every grower I know - who, believe me, come from all walks of life - voted against Prop 19.

My favorite piece of propaganda floating around these parts for the last few months was that Phillip Morris was buying up giant tracts of land in Mendocino County in advance of Prop 19 passing. The company would then, the theory goes, put every grower out of business. I found it amazing how many people fell for that stinker.

And the young people who most thought would come out in droves to vote for it? Not up here in Marijuana Central. They are the weed “trimmers” who enjoy getting paid $20 an hour under the table as a way to finance their college degrees. They voted straight Dem … and no on Prop 19. 

This northern corner of the state is a progressive strong-hold if ever there was one. It’s one of the deepest, darkest bluest areas of the country. But many of the social programs that we progressives support are being eliminated left and right because we’re so cash-strapped, and up here it’s mostly due to illegal marijuana. This is grape growing country; Mendo is immediately north of Sonoma and west of Napa and we have some very fine varietals, but marijuana is our most lucrative commodity. If it were legalized, we would be rolling it greenbacks. We would happily accept our fate as the Napa Valley of Marijuana.

But as long as it’s illegal, this will continue to be the Wild West. And I do mean wild; our dearly departed DA died one day before federal agents were to raid his property for his oversized and illegal pot garden; the wife of an attorney in the public defenders office, and former candidate for district attorney himself (ironically enough to replace said DA above) was pulled over in Utah a few years ago transporting hundreds of pounds of pot across the country; a local fire captain was caught growing 648 pot plants; even teachers have been caught growing huge amounts.

Follow the bouncing ball for a moment. We have schools that lose enrollment because illegal pot busts of 20-30 families in one district means kids don’t show up to school. Happens all the time around this time of year - harvest time. When kids miss school, their grades tank and the district loses revenues for each day they are out. When the grades tank and the revenue drops, the school “rating” heads south.  If the schools’ rating drops, the community is less attractive to newcomers. A less attractive community is less attractive to potential employers thinking of relocating here. If they don’t come here, then there is no economic development. And if there is little economic development, then there is a dwindling tax base to pay for public services. Ask a County sheriff to drive you down a main street in one of our towns and he or she will point out all the “retailers” who launder their pot money through their sham businesses. He’ll show you them right after he tells you how he had to lay off officers due to the dwindling cash problem up here.  

The illegal growers also tap into our public creeks and rivers and suck them dry, or worse, steal the water for their thirsty enterprises from ranchers who then receive a large water bill from the local municipality. Illegal, large grows require massive amounts of fertilizer, which is rarely disposed of properly, causing all kinds of environmental problems. 

And speaking of ranchers, the official #1 killer of livestock in our rural county last year was not some contagious disease or poachers. It was packs of wild dogs that guard illegal grows in the local forests and are cut loose at the end of the growing season to roam the countryside, starving. They are only cut loose, of course, after our #1 cash crop is harvested, dried, packed up and sent down Highway 101 to be sold far from the Emerald Triangle, leaving a far-reaching path of destruction in its wake.

The irony that our county, of all counties, voted this measure down is just too rich. You can’t make this shit up.