The Pot Economy: No One Seems To Know If It Exists
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The Pot Economy: No One Seems To Know If It Exists
Posted by CN Staff on April 25, 2010 at 04:42:50 PT
By Tiffany Revelle, The Daily Journal
Source: Ukiah Daily Journal 
California -- How much of Mendocino County's economy marijuana represents was one of the biggest questions at a Saturday forum on "Life After Legalization" at the Saturday Afternoon Club in Ukiah - and no one has any real answers.The forum, brought south by Humboldt County's KMUD radio host Anna Hamilton from where it started last month, aimed to answer the myriad questions about what should happen if the voters pass the Tax Cannabis 2010 California ballot initiative.
About 200 people from all angles of the question filled the room to its capacity: growers, workers, property owners, patients, business people, government representatives, media and people who were "just curious."There were differing views about what legalization would do to the price of marijuana, with some believing it would drive down the price and displace trimmers currently paid between $20 and $40 per hour, and others believing legalization would increase demand.Either way, it was obvious that the people in the room weren't satisfied with the answers Ukiah Chamber of Commerce CEO Burt Mosier offered about how the initiative, if it passes, will affect the area's economy. He said he has no hard, cold numbers showing where growers shop, and how much local businesses depend on them."All the time, I keep hearing from my members that ... the influx of money makes a difference in their survival; I know that," Mosier said. "I have members who tell me it's the only way they can survive. I have members who tell me they're absolutely against it. I have members who don't know what to do."Asked how many medical marijuana industry representatives were chamber members, Mosier said he doesn't discuss members' information. Pressed further by another audience member, Mosier said some of his members depend on growers' patronage and others don't believe any cannabis dollars come through their doors."I don't know if that's real or not," he said.Les Tar, a KMFB radio host, said he wouldn't be snowballed, and that "The whole county is lubricated, baby, with marijuana dollars!"Mosier asked Tarr if he had the numbers to back up his claim, and reiterated that he was only reporting what chamber members had told him.Another man asked him if chamber members saw tourism from patients coming into Mendocino County to sample its marijuana."In economic development in Mendocino County, it is very hard to put your finger on numbers that you can prove," Mosier said. "I know numbers, I can't prove them, I can't disprove them." He continued, "Until we start having the conversations out in the public, out in the open, and people are willing to share, there's no way that I can say to you that I have numbers that I can present to you and I can verify them." Another man asked if Mosier knew where local growers spend their money, if not in Mendocino County."No, I don't, because you won't tell me," Mosier said.The same audience member commented that local growers do shop local, to which Mosier answered that the chamber supports localization, but doesn't have verifiable numbers.A woman in the audience said Mosier's presence at the forum alone showed progress in the movement for marijuana to become part of the area's mainstream.She asked how those in the marijuana industry could get buy-in from the business community to brand and market the county's "hand-crafted, GMO-free, organic, native Mendocino County marijuana."Mosier said he heard talk of boutiques being established, marketing the county's organic marijuana with existing brands and how to turn the industry into tourism, but emphasized again the need for "open and honest conversation."Asked by one man how to channel dollars and support into the effort to find support and representation for the growing community, Mosier recommended "becom(ing) engaged in the process" at the city and county levels.One woman asked if the chamber could hold meetings to expose local merchants to the issue."We're open to any dialog that affects this community. You all gave me a bad time when we were talking about the shopping, but I have a question for the rest of you," Mosier said, "When you all go into the stores, do you tell the people who you are? Do you tell the people where these dollars are coming from? Do you think that there's a magic formula that automatically pops it out? Do these business owners know?"Mosier's questions met with a mixture of laughter and anger.One man shouted from the back of the room, "Do you tell people where your money comes from when you make a purchase? Why the hell should we?"A man from Marin County noted that its chamber and city council wrote a letter stating it supported its growers despite the threat of federal raids."My point is that your chamber should know what's going on here. I know what's going on here, and I'm from a long way away. You should know what's going on here," the man said.That comment started a small verbal scuffle, where one person said the speaker was "dead wrong," and another told them to "knock it off."One woman stood up and suggested that merchants who are chamber members could ask patrons to fill out an anonymous form asking if the money came from marijuana growing. The suggestion got a mixed response.Mosier suggested people could "mark their dollars," which met with louder mixed reaction in the crowd.Asked if a marijuana growing collective could join the chamber, Mosier said, "As far as I'm concerned, yes." That was met with applause.He added that a poll that went out to chamber members when Measure B passed - repealing the county's Measure G, which allowed anyone to grow up to 25 plants and imposing state standards on medical marijuana - came back "dead-even."One man urged growers present to join the chamber. "He's talking to us like we're them and us. Let's join them," the speaker said.Asked if the chamber could afford to study the impact of the marijuana industry on the county's economy, Mosier said he wished it did.The man suggested asking economics students working on a PhD to do the research as a way to get it done free."That's one of the things that we would get behind if that would come out of this and the future meetings," Mosier said.One woman suggested forming a seller's collective so prices can be set proactively, rather than being determined by the buyers in Southern California.One man asked if someone already in business growing marijuana could join the chamber."That's a difficult question," Mosier said. "We're going to have to talk about that."Source: Ukiah Daily Journal (CA)Author: Tiffany Revelle, The Daily JournalPublished: April 25, 2010Copyright: 2010 Ukiah Daily JournalContact: udjrb pacific.netWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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