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Comments On The Uptick Of Weed Production

In last week’s column I wrote a short item about weed and water, and also gave a longer report on my Saturday KPFN program, “This & That.”

Those reports generated a number of responses from readers and listeners. In a moment, I’ll share a couple of representative comments on what I said. What I told readers and listeners was that it’s apparent to me that weed production is on the rise. I know that to be the case for two reasons.

First of all, growers — these are mostly the mom and pop variety — have told me that after a year or two of fallowed grows, they’re once again tilling the soil. Secondly, the Laytonville County Water District for the past several weeks has been operating on a peak-demand basis. Remember, you can’t grow weed without water.

I’m told that, depending on the quality, pot is fetching prices ranging from $300 to $900 per pound. In fact, Bruce Anderson, of the Anderson Valley Advertiser, reported recently that a grower told him he received $1,000 a pound. Of course, these are black market prices but that’s really the only market that counts. Hopefully, this trend will continue, since state and local governments have wrecked rural economies by creating unworkable, hideously complex pot laws and regulations.

A year ago marked the exit of most of the outsider, big-monied pot businesses, it also resulted in the current economic crisis visited on long-established local businesses, especially those in the unincorporated areas of this county. Almost all small businesses are hurting, some worse than others as suppliers and vendors demand cash on delivery. The real estate market is saturated with homes and properties abandoned by people who have cut a trail to parts unknown. Newspapers are full of legal notices advertising foreclosure sales on mortgage defaults.

Even though everyone — growers, non-growers, businesses, and local governments — have historically benefitted from “pot dollars,” no one seems to know or has any ideas about what to do about this mess we now find ourselves in.

If not for the state of California subsidizing this county’s failed pot program with a combined $17.5 million in grant funds, the situation would be even worse, if that’s even imaginable.

Also this week, the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) said they’re sending $4 million in cash relief to 18 local jurisdictions (sorry, Mendo didn’t make the cut) that will be establishing cannabis retail licensing pathways for the first time in their city or county. Fourteen of the 18 jurisdictions selected for grants are proposing equity programs to support and assist the licensure of cannabis equity retail businesses, a critical component to further equity in the legal cannabis market.

So the state of California continues to subsidize a pot program that Gov. Gav Newsom says is the most successful in the nation. Huh? It’s such a rousing success, Governor, you have to infuse it with taxpayer cash to keep it afloat? It’s supposed to work the other way around. Regulated weed was guaranteed by you, other politicians, and pot lobbyists to subsidize general government and various environmental and public health programs and services.

Naturally, government officials have done nothing other than look the other way, as rural community economies continue to nosedive.

This disastrously botched experiment with pot regulation has run its course because there’s just no place left for it to go now except the Black Market..

Here’s the way two people looked at my comments:

“Mr. Shields, do you seriously believe that most growers actually till the Terra firma for their Devil’s lettuce? Maybe a select few who sew their seeds naked during the bright full moon.. but the majority is still running with imported soil and large inputs of non-estate fertilizers. Hopefully there are fewer water trucks this year.” — Kirk Vodopals

“The soil industry is a scam, From short loading to over charging but the carbon foot print isn’t what people think. Most soils are green waste (wood chips) mixed with organic amendments.” — Peter Boudoures

Here was my response:

I apologize Kirk and Peter for not fully explaining the ramping up of water production as it relates to weed. The increase in water production to which I referred, is the water being consumed by our Water District customers who reside within the District’s town boundaries (which includes the Cahto Reservation), not the water used by growers who live outside of our jurisdictional boundaries.

This increase in water production we’re experiencing now, totally results from the water that is delivered through our transmission/distribution system that then flows through each customer’s water meter.

Water that is sold to people who live outside district boundaries, i.e., “trucked-in water,” is non-existent at this point because their wells and springs were recharged by this year’s heavy rains that also extended into April and May. So we’re not expecting to sell much water to them until probably toward the end of Summer. Approximately one-half (conservative estimate) of our town’s water district customers cultivate weed. The water they use is delivered through their residential meters.

But in any event, pot production in our town’s area is definitely on the rise, and these folks are almost exclusively mom and pops, which is a good thing, don’t you think?

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