Sigh, LA Times Publishes a Lament for the End of the Small Grower

Nasturtium and seedling

An article to be published in the Sunday L.A. Times laments the end of the old, small way of growing marijuana. It reads like an obituary. The piece by Joe Mozingo evokes a way of life some here in the Emerald Triangle are trying to hold on to but it seems to be slipping through their fingers.

They raised their families where they cultivated. They drove beat-up Subarus and small Toyota pickups, pumped their water from wells and chopped their own firewood.

The mountain hamlets operated like breakaway states. Marijuana farmers paid for community centers, fire departments, road maintenance and elementary schools.

Even today, small cannabis-funded volunteer fire stations and primary schools are scattered throughout the ranges. And the local radio station, KMUD, announces the sheriff’s deputies’ movements as part of its public service mandate.

But the liberalization of marijuana laws in the last decade upended the status quo.

From Oakland to the Inland Empire, people began cultivating indoors on an unprecedented scale at the same time that growers from around the world flooded the North Coast because of its remoteness and deep-rooted counterculture.

Now, with the market glutted, people are simply planting ever-larger crops to make up for the drop in price.

Longtime residents complain that the newcomers cut down trees, grade hillsides, divert creeks to irrigate multi-thousand-plant crops, use heavy pesticides and rat poisons, and run giant, smog-belching diesel generators to illuminate indoor grows. They blaze around in Dodge monster trucks and Cadillac Escalades and don’t contribute to upkeep of the roads or schools.

“They just don’t care,” said Kym Kemp, a teacher and blogger in the mountains of Sohum, as locals call southern Humboldt County. “They’re not thinking, ‘I want my kids to grow up here.’

“Now there are greenhouses the size of a football field that weren’t even there last year,” she added. [I swear I said half the size of a football field but, God, knows I can be guilty of hyperbole.]

Kemp said she feels her region is being colonized and worries about the colorful, off-the-grid people that small cannabis patches long supported.

“So many people who live here are just different,” she said. “They don’t fit in regular society. They couldn’t work 9-to-5 jobs. But they’ve gotten used to raising their kids on middle-class incomes. What are they going to do?”

I remember crying when I was being interviewed.  It chokes me up now to read of something so unique dying.  This isn’t a new subject for Emerald Triangle readers but it is such a gentle look from an outside perspective that it is worth taking a few minutes to read.

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