Some people say that legalizing cannabis will ruin our local economy here in Humboldt County. I think it’s too late for that. The War on Drugs has already done it. Not only has it ruined our economy, it has ruined our community. All of the serious problems we face, or refuse to face, as a community result from economic forces set in motion by the War on Drugs.
You can see it any day of the week in Garberville. You see lots of poor people, and the contempt for them is palpable. Merchants mostly cater to tourists or dope yuppies. Few pay a living wage, fewer still offer benefits like health insurance, so few people work regular jobs in town.
Local non-profits exploit the poor even more than the businesses. They rely on the unpaid efforts of hundreds of idealistic volunteers with limited economic opportunities. These volunteers happily work a four hour shift, or more, for a T-shirt and a meal, or less, even though they have no safe place to sleep, can’t afford one, and the people who they volunteer to help, would call the cops on them any other day of the week, just for being poor in public. The dope yuppies point to the non-profits as evidence of the generosity of cannabis growers, but the non-profits mainly serve the interests of the growers, while they ignore the needs of their volunteers, let alone the rest of the community.
Dope yuppies, on the other hand, exploit people much more directly, and with much more coercion. They rely heavily on taxpayer subsidized violence, both to inflate the price of their product, and to insure that they have an endless supply of cheap labor. Mandatory drug screening disqualifies most pot smokers from pretty much every field except drug dealing and the arts. If you’ve been busted, you’re doubly screwed. Who else would “hire” someone convicted of a drug felony?
I say “hire” in quotations, because dope yuppies rarely pay people for their time and trouble. Instead, they take on “sharecroppers;” people who do all of the work, and take all of the risk, for a share of the crop, which they then have to sell, along with the dope yuppie’s share, before they get paid. Or they “hire” house-sitters. Dope yuppies think that house-sitting is it’s own reward. They expect people to watch their property, do their chores and take care of their menagerie of pets, while they jet off to Belize, just for the privilege of staying in their home while they are away.
Dope yuppies want people to be that desperate. Just watch how shocked and disappointed they become if you turn them down. It’s not enough for them to have plenty of money. They know that they are only rich, so long as they can bend the poor people around them to their will. They like economic inequity That’s why they vacation in Central America. They don’t wish you well. Don’t forget that.
So, the non-profits need volunteers. The merchants need serfs and the dope yuppies want slaves. The non-profits have their mission statements. The merchants just want to make money, and the dope yuppies want people to do their work for them. None of them care about the people they exploit. Then they have the nerve to complain that most people would rather live on the street and shit on the sidewalk than work for any of them. Who can blame people for opting out? Just because you have three shitty offers, doesn’t mean you have to make a deal.
No one likes it. People hate the whole situation so much they voted to increase taxes to pay for more police. How bad do things have to get before drug-dealers demand more cops? So now the whole sad, ugly mess is crawling with cops. That’s what the cannabis economy looks like in Garberville: punk-ass kids in in brand new trucks, poor people with no good options and nowhere to go, and a bunch of cops just looking for trouble. Lovely, isn’t it?
Who cares how much money is involved, if that’s what it looks like on the ground? Just because the War on Drugs brings a lot of money into Southern Humboldt, that doesn’t mean it makes life better here. Quite the contrary. Look around, SoHum. Look at what the cannabis economy has done to your community.
It takes millions of dollars to cultivate this level of social dysfunction. It takes big money to create the kind of poverty you see wandering the streets of Garberville. All over the country the War on Drugs has turned vibrant communities like, and including, Southern Humboldt into drug ghettos, to feed the insatiable greed of Drug War profiteers. You’d have to be a fool or a cad to want it to continue.
Therein lies the true heart of our real economic problem. For more than 30 years, the War on Drugs has made Southern Humboldt extremely attractive to cads and fools. Fools don’t understand; cads don’t care. Both of them measure everything in dollars and cents, either because they fail to comprehend, or they fail to care about, anything else.
Think about it. What would we lose if this county never saw another dollar of pot money? First we’d lose the cads. They know they can’t compete on a level playing field, so they will jump ship first, on their way to the next big scam. They’ll make a lot of noise before they go, but we’ll be better off without them. The fools won’t know what hit them, but they’ll get used to whatever comes next.
We’d lose our housing shortage, as property owners realized that they better find a new way to make money from all of the residential floor space they own. They’ll begin, for the very first time, to rent it to people to live in. What a novel idea! Others will simply liquidate their Humboldt County holdings, creating opportunities for nicer people who just want to live in the forest.
We’d lose the illegal water diversions,
and the illegal grading,
not to mention the rat poison,
the fertilizer runoff,
and all of the garbage they leave in the forest,
as people realize that there’s no point in growing more weed than you can smoke.
We’d probably lose 5 or 6 murders each year, not to mention countless other violent crimes, ranging from home invasion robbery to kidnapping and rape. We’d lose CAMP. We’d lose the helicopters, the law-enforcement convoys, and the raids. We’d lose the lawyers. Would anyone miss them?
We’d lose the soil trucks and the water trucks and all of the damage they do to our roads. We’d lose the endless parade of brand new giant pickup trucks. I miss the rusty old ranch wagons, don’t you? And of course, we’d lose the money, but most of us don’t see much of it anyway. The main thing that pot money does for most of us, is make it harder to afford a home, and allow local merchant to focus on meeting the needs of people with more money than us, rather than us.
When you add it all up, it amounts to a hell of a lot of money that this community would have been better off without. It’s high time we said “good riddance” to the cannabis economy. Instead of worrying about the inflated incomes of the greedy bottom-feeders who ruined our economy, lets work on making this community a better place to live for the people who have been hurt most by them, namely, the poor and working people of Humboldt County.