corruption


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The omissions about cannabis

Opinion Piece By Samuel Strait – November 4, 2018 –  I
cringe when I read the kinds of things that are omitted when talking
about cannabis.  I would hope that at least some time passes before an
ordinance is passed  with regard to commercial cannabis, because as some
county’s have learned in their rush to pass their ordinances, things
have a funny way of turning out in the most unexpected way.

While it would be relatively simple to post a comment regarding Robert
Derego’s rather simplistic view of things in Greenfield on California’s
Central Coast, it would be much more informative to locals who in less
than forty eight hours must weigh in on the County’s Board of
Supervisors quest to clarify the issue of taxing commercial cannabis
activities.  Robert starts his comment by stating that we already have
data on cannabis, without offering up just exactly what that data might
be.  He then points to the Loudpack operation in Greenfield, California,
where 20 acres of cannabis is in the process of being cultivated and
makes the claim that it is Greenfield’s largest employer with more to
come. While I won’t argue that any of this is is a fabrication, I will
say that this is only part of the story.

Greenfield, was a small, relatively impoverished city in California with
a need for an economic boost.  It, along with its nearby neighbor, King
City, ranks first and second in the State’s murder rankings (per capita)
as California’s Murder Capitals in the State.   Similarly, its reported
crime is ten percent higher than average for cities in California.
While only some of this depressing set of facts can be directly related
to cannabis activities since the State has legalized recreational pot,
it is not much of a place to start from when talking about cannabis as a
commercial product.

Robert, further, implies that commercial cannabis activities such as
Loudpack might increase the level of pay for those transferring from
service related jobs to the higher pay found in the cannabis industry,
but is that true?  Most jobs in the industry do not pay any more than
that of food service employment, minimum wage. Additionally, it has
recently been found that in some large scale commercial operations the
use of illegal aliens has actually depressed the wage level paid in the
area.  And a much less acceptable form of slave labor has turned up in
some cases.  More employment is generally a good thing, but low wage
employment often isn’t the attraction that it is meant to be.

Since Greenfield passed its initial set of ordinances other issues have
surfaced, the importance of a reasonable tax level for the City has
necessitated a restructuring of that schedule as well as a few other
changes.  There has been a growing level of push back by portions of the
local citizenry regarding Loudpack’s operation which has given the
City’s Council reason to reexamine it’s pilot program for large scale
operations in the City.  The City initially limited its venture to four
large scale grow operations, of which Loudpack was not one.  Loudpack
circumvented the City’s restriction of the four large scale operations
by taking out multiple small scale permits.  As such, small commercial
ventures have had difficulty gaining traction and in some cases have
reverted to black market operations that are lacking permits and do not
pay the tax.  While none of this represents a huge problem it does point
to ways that not all out comes can be accounted for by ordinance and a
prudent way to avoid the pit falls made in other counties is to wait and
learn.

I fully understand the impatience of those that are wanting the County
to ignore the obvious problems with commercial cannabis, that of
enforcement and permitting, but Del Norte County itself presents another
set of problems that will have to be addressed at some point.   For that
I would point to our neighbors in Humboldt County where the nightly news
has exposed a seemingly endless stream of permit less grows with
multiple code violations included.  The idea that California has
legalized recreational Cannabis does not mean criminal activity ceases.
It does not mean that commercial cannabis activities can exist
anywhere.  We do not have the luxury of large scale cannabis grows on
relatively flat open land.  Of course the 125 acres of wetland to be
made into another Del Norte County park might just fill the need of
land……….        Maybe?  As Humboldt County and Greenfield have
learned in their rush to get the ball rolling, it isn’t as easy as
Robert would like us to believe to have any sort of smooth transition.

There are a couple of other issues that I would like to expose which
thus far have not been talked about and that is whether or not the local
environmentalists will be quite as accepting of cannabis farming,
particularly in light of the seemingly constant association of water
contamination and usage, plus assorted other environmental code
violations that seem to plague unlicensed grows.  While I am not saying
that permitted grows or manufacturing will be violating various codes, I
am sure that the lily bulb farmers in Smith River Delta also felt like
they were above board and not in violation.  Of course the recent
articles in the Triplicate seem to indicate that they may be and changes
could very well be forced on them making a previously lucrative activity
cost prohibitive.   Something prospective pot farms might take into
consideration.

Finally, If Del Norte County puts together some sort of coherent
ordinance which satisfies most people here locally and there is a
surplus of tax income flowing into the County’s General Fund, can we
trust our local officials to spend the money wisely?  As we have seen on
numerous occasions over the last four plus decades, giving government
money doesn’t always equate to good things happening here, say a local
and cannabis funded  Last Chance Grade bypass anyone?  But enough of
being superficial, it is enough to say that contrary to Robert’s
statement that the “facts” are in, pretty clearly his example of
Greenfield’s adventure into commercial cannabis has not gone as smoothly
or profitably as the city’s fathers would have wished.  And then do we
really want a twenty acre sized commercial cannabis enterprise located
in the County?  I believe that pot as a windfall in this County may be
only in the minds of the Cannabis Working Group and we as a community
should perhaps look for something much more modest, after all twenty
five counties in California still have a ban on Commercial Cannabis
Activities.

5 Responses to The omissions about cannabis

  1. Robert Derego Reply

    November 5, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    You really know nothing about the cannabis industry, Sam. I am in the industry with a bit more experience in these regards. These are good jobs. Just Del Norte Patients Together has helped to support at least three or four small family farmers in our county on a collective basis. I always struggled to clear $14,000 or so up here serving you coffee, counting the safe at Shop Smart or catching shop lifters at Rite Aid. These several farmers did a lot better than that (several times better). You get no data when you have no test. Lets see what happens when you do not require folks like me ride gray areas. Have you ever worked a living wage job in Del Norte, have you worked our retail scene or food service scene? We have tried it your way for a hundred years and now, democracy is turning the tides.

    • Samuel Strait Reply

      November 6, 2018 at 8:41 am

      Very dramatic Robert. So let me see if I’ve got this right. If you are old and do not have years of experience in the pot industry, you are clueless. If you are young and have never worked before at any kind of job, you are qualified for a high paying job in the cannabis industry. You do not have to go through what most young people who are starting out with a service related job which because you have no job experience is probably low paying. If you are young, you also might be still living at home for a while yet? And yet I know young people who start at a low paying job, somehow manage to pay for living on their own, save money, gain work experience, and work up the ladder in time to become quite successful. Kind of that is the way it is suppose to work? Not many young people with enough education and life experience that are ready to be able to handle the CEO’s job right out of the gate.

      So what you are saying is you don’t really have any data. You seemed to think that some one “forced” you to work in “gray areas” and that if you were not in that situation, some how things would have been much better for you? Sorry Robert, things have a funny way of being what they are. In this country the only guarantee is that you have to make things the best that they can be for yourself. There probably aren’t many short cuts to success.

      Finally, since the last I heard, the good old USA is not a democracy, shudder at the thought, and a lot of young people who haven’t been born with a silver spoon in their mouth have done right well for nearly two hundred and fifty years in what is a representative republic. I don’t think that any other form of government can make that claim, at least with any great success.

      • Robert Derego Reply

        November 6, 2018 at 11:04 am

        I supervised the evenings for 5 years at Smart Smart. I never made any more than a buck or two above min wage, because that is the market for labor here. If you like a free market, back one up for cannabis and wage earners. And as things are, no short cuts and what not as you say.. looks like you have a hundred years of open cannabis use and users to look forward to,, and if you don’t like it, work on changing it, that is what we did. Again, retirees.. RETIRE. We are going on about the business of the day. It is the cannabis industry. Democracy.. for the people by the people, there are plenty of conservative dictatorships. Try Saudi Arabia. And, unless I missed it, you did not answer, any private sector job you have worked up here? How is your living made? And if democracy and the republic and capitalism and socialism and communism all fail us, I will revert to what business people and families use… math

  2. Robert Derego Reply

    November 5, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Greenfield enjoys a similar small town that is depressed with similar crime ratings and enjoys Loudpack as their largest employer AND THEY ARE EXPANDING AS WE SPEAK. We are not a town of old dying, we are a town of young workers. Go tell the old and dying. I am as bad as it comes when it comes to pot addiction. I am OK with myself. This is not a town for the old. The old and frail belong where you find medical services and convenience. This is a town of young, bold, risk takers that have a living to make.. OUT OF THE WAY.. PRIVATE SECTOR ECONOMY COMING THROUGH People, I think would have no problem with 20 acres, we have thousands of acres of stinky cows and lily that poisons the river. I could lease hundreds of acres of ag land on Elk Valley right now, the room is here, if you and the hometown buffet crowd would get out of the way, young progressives and conservatives will work together for our own interest. Compare 4000 acres of lily to 20 acres of pot and the difference is ends meat for hundreds of employees. Lumber people take risk, fishermen take risk, we will take risk and we are the future of the county.

    • Samuel Strait Reply

      November 6, 2018 at 9:22 am

      Actually, no Robert, Greenfield had and continues to have a great deal more difficulty with crime than the average city in California. I will grant you that not all is pot related, some thing I said in the original piece. Yes, Loudpack is a large employer and growing, but wages do not appear to have increased very much. Not all citizens are happy with Loudpack and a couple of other more modest pot operations. Your rant about old and dying in this town does you no good service. That is the way it is in most towns in this country.
      I am pretty sure that most people the young and the old would like to see this town grow and prosper. Cannabis may have a part to play in that picture. My take is that places like Greenfield and even Humboldt to our south have discovered that there is another side to the commercial aspect of cannabis and it is not the bold, risk taking, or youth that they are talking about.

      As an example, recently it was discovered connected to a large permitted pot grow a container which enclosed the operation’s workers, locked up, no pay, guarded while working. I would suspect that is some thing that you would not wish to see happen here.
      I am not really interested in what you think of cows or lily bulb farming, or your skewed notion of the make up of the population here in the County. I just have a problem with understanding the real recreational value of the product in the first place. It seems such a waste. I cannot see how it has any value social or otherwise to be in an altered state of mind. Seems like a crutch, to avoid what you seem to be searching for, success?

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