Backlash Against Pot Growing in Mendocino County 

Backlash Against Pot Growing in Mendocino County 
Posted by CN Staff on May 30, 2008 at 19:18:16 PT
By Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Source: Los Angeles Times
Sacramento, CA -- Back in 2000, Mendocino County became an epicenter of the marijuana movement after county voters legalized 25-plant cannabis gardens. High Times magazine, the bible of cannabis culture, celebrated the victory on its front page.But now a backlash is underway in this liberal corner of California.
A measure on Tuesday's ballot seeks to repeal the 2000 decision, which went beyond California's medical marijuana law by legalizing cultivation even by recreational users.Backers of Measure B say it's needed to reverse a trend that has brought unwanted crime, environmental trouble and cultural change.Ross Liberty, a Measure B backer, talks of blocks with so many backyard gardens that the harvest would yield $1 million worth of pot. It is, he maintains, nothing short of a magnet for theft and home-invasion robberies.Big grows can ruin the backwoods, where streams have been diverted to irrigate robust gardens and diesel fuel has leaked from flimsy tanks.In town, the culture is far different from when Liberty was growing up here in the 1970s. Today, young entrepreneurs depend on weed to support a slacker lifestyle, "hanging around the house until noon in their slippers, making $150K a year, not paying taxes," he said. "It's nouveau welfare. Everyone is dependent on the marijuana economy."Laura Hamburg, leader of the push against Measure B, says Liberty and the measure's other supporters are aiming at the wrong target.The measure would open the door for law enforcement to crack down on small-scale growers -- most of them card-carrying medical marijuana patients -- while avoiding the tougher task of busting the massive backwoods gardens that have imported an unwanted criminal element, she contends.But those big grows are tough to find and tougher to eradicate. When drug agents show up, the tenders flee. There are no assets to seize, no arrests to be made.In contrast, a backyard garden or indoor grow operation is easy pickings. And those sorts of busts are increasing, along with the amount of property being seized by the county. In 2005, Mendocino County collected about $100,000 in seized assets from marijuana farmers. Last year, the total was $1.6 million, Hamburg said.She says the county should accept its unusual cultural and climatic conditions and embrace its marijuana economy -- a $1.6-billion-a-year industry by some estimates.Hamburg wants to see the county become a new model for how to tax and regulate pot gardens."Does it make sense to pretend this giant economy doesn't exist?" she asked, adding: "You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube."Note: The measure would repeal a 2000 vote in the county that legalized 25-plant cannabis gardens for recreational users.Complete Title: Backlash Against Pot Growing in Mendocino County Prompts an Item on Tuesday's BallotSource: Los Angeles Times (CA)Author:  Eric Bailey, Los Angeles Times Staff WriterPublished: May 31, 2008Copyright: 2008 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: Articles: Ruling Clouds Mendocino Pot Measure Endorses Measure B Measure B Will Help
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Comment #1 posted by dongenero on May 30, 2008 at 20:27:58 PT
the problem isn't the pot.....
it's the prohibition stupid.And no, it's not like nouveau welfare, it's like nouveau capitalism.
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