Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tangled Weeds in Humboldt

As we continue our search for acceptable housing in the Arcata and surrounding area, I reluctantly become more aware of the ongoing battle about marijuana in Humboldt County. Like all issues in this area, people are instantly sucked into the far extreme viewpoints, as if maybe one of the geographical features of the area is a mysterious political centrifuge. Because I am trying to understand what the northern towns other than Arcata are like in character and safety, I have been following the local news blog commentary.

The thread I commented on is about a recent federal crackdown of grow houses. Everything I was reading made me think everyone around me must be crazy. The internet is kind of like highway driving; you are interacting with lots of people all at once and the anonymity allows their true inner asshole to find its voice. Think about road rage and honking and people flipping one another off. I myself curse like a sailor when I drive. The local news blogs remind me of that. Many, many people aren't saying anything of substance, just throwing rocks at one another. Healthy debate is entirely absent. Name calling is rampant, as if all posters are in the 7th grade.

After reading 140 twisted little comments, this is what I wrote:

Grow Houses

(from Topix/Times-Standard forum June 25, 2008)

Is the problem really the marijuana itself or is it the inflated, black-market money?

Huge commercial grows have nothing to do with 215 or hemp (no one around here is growing hemp!) or the pleasant effect of smoking weed. Instead, they are about large amounts of tax-free cash.

And the social ills that spring up around any illegal enterprise are very real. Lying to your loved ones for a start, or raising your kids to lie, or contributing to their delinquency. All that cash income equals rich people who don't pay taxes and who don't have the class to offer endowment to build community. Divorced mothers who cannot get child support because their ex has no money on the books. Mistrust of and aversion to authority at the times when you really do need cops (say when violence threatens your family or property).

As someone who has spent the last two months trying to find a rental housing in Arcata, I can tell you that landlords are skittish! Rental homes are getting destroyed by grow operations. How is it ok to destroy someone else's house for your profit?

I have dealt with a lot of suspicious landlords whose rules are unpleasantly strict due to how often they've been burned in the past. So yes it does negatively impact people who would just like to find a place to live in a university town. Yet, I am not convinced illegal mj cultivation is the CAUSE of high rent prices.

Why are neighbors up in arms? Because residential areas are being used for illegal INDUSTRY. Just like it would suck to live next door to a gravel operation or a cement plant. The smell, the traffic, the lack of neighborly behavior. And since it's illegal, add to that the paranoia, unsavory characters, weapons, arrests, and children in crossfire. That is how good neighborhoods become bad ones.

I do not care what you smoke. If you are sick, I want you to have whatever helps you feel better (but I have to wonder, is health around here really that bad?). Marijuana itself is not the problem; instead the problem is its illegality. While it is a crime, there will be entire law enforcement agencies dedicated to arresting those who cultivate it. You will be gambling with your freedom and criminal record if you grow it.

If you can't live without it, then start thinking of logical, feasible ways to get it legalized. The one step toward legalization (215) gets abused so often and regularly, that I have to wonder if the law will remain in place. Greedy people and overconsuming potheads are going to ruin it for the patients who benefit from 215 marijuana! Start thinking of ways it could work legally.

People are so afraid it will get regulated, but let's not forget it really is a weed, a willing flourishing plant, grown from a seed. The only way it would get regulated is if the price went so low that people became too lazy to go to all the trouble to grow it, gather it, dry it, trim it. Just like we don't grow and dry our own tobacco, still our own whiskey, or bottle our own wine and beer. These tasks are quaint, old-fashioned, artisanal skills, hobbies in a way, that people choose to cultivate or not. Why shouldn't it just be another herb in your medicinal garden?

No comments: