November 1, 2010

The Election tomorrow

One of the issues being voted on in California is Proposition 19. From the WikiPedia entry:
Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, is a California ballot proposition which will be on the November 2, 2010 California statewide ballot. It legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties. In March 2010, it qualified to be on the November statewide ballot. It requires a simple majority in order to pass, and would take effect the day after the election. Yes on 19 is the official advocacy group for the initiative, and No On Proposition 19 is the official opposition group.
There are a whole bunch of growers in Mendocino County who do not want this to pass as it will destroy their way of life. A wonderful article at Washington Monthly:
The Closing of the Marijuana Frontier
When my wife and I bought a house last year in the little town of Ukiah, California, the first person to offer us advice about growing marijuana was our realtor. The house was a stolid 1909 prairie box that had been partitioned into four units, with a front porch, dark green trim, and a couple of fruit trees in the yard. It was charming, but we probably would have settled for a yurt. What mattered most to us was having a foothold in Mendocino County, a place we had long ago decided was the most beautiful in America.

Our realtor, however, drew our attention to the house�s electrical meters. There were four in total, one for each unit. If we ever wanted to grow a few indoor pot gardens, he said, we had an ideal setup. I laughed and thanked him for the tip.

Then the advice kept coming. A neighbor offered to help me get started with a few plants whenever I was ready. The owner of a local hydroponics supply store shook my hand and encouraged me to stop by his warehouse. �We�ll set you up,� he said. Ukiah, I realized, was weirder than I thought.

I�d always known that pot was a huge part of the county�s livelihood, accounting for two-thirds of the local economy, by some estimates. But in eight years of visiting the place with my wife�including one gloriously unsuccessful four-month experiment in backcountry living�I�d never so much as set eyes on a seven-fingered leaf. Then, last year, I began exploring the region�s cannabis economy in earnest, setting out for dirt roads in the hills and basements in Ukiah, occasionally wearing a blindfold.

Gradually a new picture of Mendocino County began to emerge. Neighborhoods in town were dotted with light-flooded outbuildings packed with plants, quietly paying the mortgages of those who tended them. And the county�s amber and green hills were full of homesteaders who for decades had been leading the kind of existence we�d once failed at�men and women who�d come for the land but managed to stay because of marijuana. Many had built their own off-grid homes and outfitted them with elaborate solar arrays, potbellied stoves, and well-tended gardens. In an age of homemade baby food, fire-escape agriculture, and home-brew chic, they�d achieved an almost mythical ideal: economic independence derived from a small piece of earth.

The rub, of course, was that these paragons of yeoman virtue were often antisocial, paranoid wrecks. Marijuana�s high price under prohibition made it possible to earn a decent living from a small patch, but someone was always losing a crop, fleeing into the woods, or going to jail. �It�s like the sharks come in and just eat a few people,� one grower told me. Mendocino County, in short, is as tortured by prohibition as it is dependent on it. But what agonizes the county even more these days is the thought that it could all be coming to an end.

On November 2, Californians go to the polls to vote on whether to start treating cannabis as just another adult recreational drug. The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010�also known as Proposition 19�would legalize the possession and cultivation of pot in small amounts for adults, while handing the authority to regulate commercial marijuana production and distribution down to counties and cities. Polls as of this writing show that the measure might well pass. If it does, the Rand Corporation predicts that the price of marijuana will fall by as much as 80 percent. But even if the referendum doesn�t pass, a new initiative will almost certainly reach the ballot in 2012, and growers, dispensary owners, and pro-pot local governments will continue to test the boundaries of the state�s fourteen-year-old medical marijuana law. Whatever happens on November 2, the edifice of prohibition is crumbling in California, and one of the largest informal economies in America is inexorably emerging into the mainstream.
A wonderfully told story and sad news if this passes. Posted by DaveH at November 1, 2010 7:54 PM
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