Good News isn't Sexy: The Untold Story of How Many Growers are Willing to Sacrifice

The first story out of Humboldt County about the possible effects of the Tax Cannabis initiative painted growers as anti-legalization (and, of course, some are).   However, a large number–over half in my experience–are pro legalization.  HuMMAP  (Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel), an organization of growers and business people, consists almost entirely of people who–for various reasons– see the need for California to legalize cannabis as soon as possible.

But HuMMAP and other  growers have failed to get media to present the reality of what is happening here in the Emerald Triangle.  No matter how many times reporters are presented with pro legalization growers, their story is always on the ones who are anti legalization.  Here is the latest:

Some people continue to oppose [legalization], including pot growers from Humboldt.

This may seem perplexing to some, but the answer is mostly because growers with such attitudes in Humbolt are insanely greedy, selfish, and evil people. One Anna Hamilton, a radio show host who frequently smokes marijuana, stated that “the legalization of marijuana will be the single most devastating economic event in the long boom-and-bust history of Northern California.”

In other words, Humboldt has an economic advantage because of criminalization. If marijuana becomes legal, there is the possibility of competing sources, free markets, and cheap weed for everyone.  I.e. People like Hamilton believe that the government should continue to imprison millions of people, ruin their lives, substantially decrease their ability to find employment, and feed gang crime because they want to make more money.

I personally have heard Anna proclaim to rooms full of growers that if you can’t support legalization because of the fear of economic devastation, you must at least abstain from voting because otherwise you are voting to put good people in jail.  I personally have heard a room full of growers shouting “No” to the question ‘was it acceptable to put people in prison to keep pot prices up.’  But because the only reports coming out of this area are from reporters eager to sell the sexy, ironic story of how marijuana growers don’t want to see it legalized, the truth of our area is distorted.  I did an interview with Channel 5 news in which I told them over and over that the story they were missing was of how many growers were willing to face the possible sacrifice their lifestyle and culture for the greater good of society.  Did that part make the evening news.  No, instead the story they aired (in which every person they interviewed was pro legalization in one form or another) implied that growers were completely anti legalization.

Growers are facing the possible drop in prices from thousands per pound to hundreds per pound (or less).  Everyone with a paycheck should pause for a moment here and picture their paycheck with the decimal point moving one decimal point to the left.  Say you make $4000 a month now and after legalization you would make $400.  Ouch!  To have over half of the growers willing to say, “Legalization needs to come even if it hurts me personally” is a testament to the overall decency of human beings (and to decency of growers in particular.)

It isn’t sexy.  It isn’t ironic.  But it’s true.

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34 comments

  • I haven’t been following the story in the media, only little bits here, but I am not surprised by their poor reporting. It is more about creating a sensational story than telling the whole truth.

    • Every nuance is hard to tell. When I write, I have to narrow down my focus in order to tell a coherent story. But to ignore evidence directly contrary to a story that you have pre decided to tell is irresponsible.

  • I haven’t been following the story in the media, only little bits here, but I am not surprised by their poor reporting. It is more about creating a sensational story than telling the whole truth.

    • Every nuance is hard to tell. When I write, I have to narrow down my focus in order to tell a coherent story. But to ignore evidence directly contrary to a story that you have pre decided to tell is irresponsible.

  • I’m a person that has never used Marijuana, and has never grown it. I am a local business person, and I am almost totally dependant on the underground economy. My income will go along with whatever happens.

    I have no problem with the people that do use it, so from that standpoint I’m not judgmental about the weed itself, but I think that we are all joining in a exercise in futility. The voters in L.A. are going to determine what California does. Other states are already putting legalization on their ballots, and if other states approve of legalizing marijuana it will decrease the value of “Humboldt homegrown” anyway. Even though “The Emerald Triangle” may grow the worlds best weed, we have no say over the legality of it.

    There is an old premise in business to “never deal in a product that you don’t control“. We are not able to control legalization. Anything that we do will only be grunting and squealing, somebody else will determine our fate.

    • Ernie,
      Sometimes I think you are right–it is hopeless to reach out and try to change the world. I just can’t quit. Grunt Squeal ;>

      • A little optimism is a good thing. I keep hoping that hippopotamuses will turn into great big butterflies, wouldn’t that be beautiful? But, while I’m waiting on that, I try to spend a little time looking at what might really happen.

        I know that there are a lot of people that are going to be hurt by legalization, but I’m sorry, I’m sure it’s going to happen. I’m glad the locals are trying to face it with class.

        I foresee the locals coming to understand that legalization in California first will be better for their incomes in the long run. I won’t bode well for the locals to be sitting here in California with illegal weed, when in other states I will be legal.

        When you are being run out of town, make it look like you are leading the parade.

        Kym, please keep up the good work I DO enjoy your optimism.

        • What do you have against hippos? Do you want them to go extinct? What kind of evil are you harboring in your chest?

          Tsk, tsk, I never would have believed it of you–

  • I’m a person that has never used Marijuana, and has never grown it. I am a local business person, and I am almost totally dependant on the underground economy. My income will go along with whatever happens.

    I have no problem with the people that do use it, so from that standpoint I’m not judgmental about the weed itself, but I think that we are all joining in a exercise in futility. The voters in L.A. are going to determine what California does. Other states are already putting legalization on their ballots, and if other states approve of legalizing marijuana it will decrease the value of “Humboldt homegrown” anyway. Even though “The Emerald Triangle” may grow the worlds best weed, we have no say over the legality of it.

    There is an old premise in business to “never deal in a product that you don’t control“. We are not able to control legalization. Anything that we do will only be grunting and squealing, somebody else will determine our fate.

    • Ernie,
      Sometimes I think you are right–it is hopeless to reach out and try to change the world. I just can’t quit. Grunt Squeal ;>

      • A little optimism is a good thing. I keep hoping that hippopotamuses will turn into great big butterflies, wouldn’t that be beautiful? But, while I’m waiting on that, I try to spend a little time looking at what might really happen.

        I know that there are a lot of people that are going to be hurt by legalization, but I’m sorry, I’m sure it’s going to happen. I’m glad the locals are trying to face it with class.

        I foresee the locals coming to understand that legalization in California first will be better for their incomes in the long run. I won’t bode well for the locals to be sitting here in California with illegal weed, when in other states I will be legal.

        When you are being run out of town, make it look like you are leading the parade.

        Kym, please keep up the good work I DO enjoy your optimism.

        • What do you have against hippos? Do you want them to go extinct? What kind of evil are you harboring in your chest?

          Tsk, tsk, I never would have believed it of you–

  • I think there is either a consorted effort to paint growers as the devil in order to expedite the legalization process, or a sheer ignorance on the part of media here in the U.S. about the complexities of marijuana. It’s sad that the best story to come out on legalization is from a U.K. newspaper.

    • I think you have a good point about the growers being painted “as the devil in order to expedite the legalization process.” I think that the idea in some people’s minds is that drug dealers are bad so anything that makes them unhappy therefore is good.

  • I think there is either a consorted effort to paint growers as the devil in order to expedite the legalization process, or a sheer ignorance on the part of media here in the U.S. about the complexities of marijuana. It’s sad that the best story to come out on legalization is from a U.K. newspaper.

    • I think you have a good point about the growers being painted “as the devil in order to expedite the legalization process.” I think that the idea in some people’s minds is that drug dealers are bad so anything that makes them unhappy therefore is good.

  • Good post, Kym. Hope the word gets out.

  • Good post, Kym. Hope the word gets out.

  • Please read my column tomorrow Kym.

    I think you, and your readers will be pleasantly surprised.

  • Please read my column tomorrow Kym.

    I think you, and your readers will be pleasantly surprised.

  • “Say you make $4000 a month now and after legalization you would make $400.”

    And as a bonus, you get to go legit and pay taxes.

    • …And to deal with regulation and the cost of property bought when Marijuana prices and land prices were both high.

    • Being pimped by the government for half the fruits of your labor is “going legit?” Right.

      I do support this proposition only because I know it will make lots of money for smuggling into other states. People seem to keep forgetting that there is no magic wall around California stopping weed from going out. CA produces 3 times as much as it needs for annual CA weed consumption currently. More growing will just mean more shit to sell in Texas.

  • “Say you make $4000 a month now and after legalization you would make $400.”

    And as a bonus, you get to go legit and pay taxes.

    • …And to deal with regulation and the cost of property bought when Marijuana prices and land prices were both high.

    • Being pimped by the government for half the fruits of your labor is “going legit?” Right.

      I do support this proposition only because I know it will make lots of money for smuggling into other states. People seem to keep forgetting that there is no magic wall around California stopping weed from going out. CA produces 3 times as much as it needs for annual CA weed consumption currently. More growing will just mean more shit to sell in Texas.

  • If other working people pay taxes, it’s only fair that growers do too – NOW, focus on tax reform. There ought to be a tax revolt the likes of which has never been seen. Is it fair for you to have to fork over half your income? No. It’s not fair for ANYONE to have to do it.

    And it is not just State and Federal Income Tax, it is business licenses, employee withholding, tons of paperwork, all kinds of compliance, including the new 1099 requirements tucked into the “HealthCare” bill – now you will have to 1099 ANYONE you pay any money to, including PG&E, anything over $600, your landlord, utilities, etc., you now have to inform the government who you are paying money to. It’s a huge intrusion by government into your life.

  • If other working people pay taxes, it’s only fair that growers do too – NOW, focus on tax reform. There ought to be a tax revolt the likes of which has never been seen. Is it fair for you to have to fork over half your income? No. It’s not fair for ANYONE to have to do it.

    And it is not just State and Federal Income Tax, it is business licenses, employee withholding, tons of paperwork, all kinds of compliance, including the new 1099 requirements tucked into the “HealthCare” bill – now you will have to 1099 ANYONE you pay any money to, including PG&E, anything over $600, your landlord, utilities, etc., you now have to inform the government who you are paying money to. It’s a huge intrusion by government into your life.

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