|A juicy bag of primo local product, Humboldt County Kush. How will legalization affect the Emerald Triangle’s booming pot economy?
In what is being described as an unprecedented event, residents, local business people, officials, and industry leaders plan to meet in Humboldt County, California Tuesday night to talk about the potential economic effects of the legalization of marijuana, reports Donna Tam of the Eureka Times-Standard.
“It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room,” said organizer Anna Hamilton.
Shelter Cove resident Hamilton said she is “intimately involved” with the marijuana business and has seen the market get worse due to changing pot laws.
“I’ve lived here 20 years and every time there’s been a discussion about marijuana, it has emboldened people to grow more pot with less fear,” she said. “As it’s become more widely grown, the prices dropped. The effect on our local economy is harsh.”
Hamilton said the time is now to think about what can be done to protect local residents when marijuana becomes legal.
|Photo: The Humboldt Herald
|Supervisor Mark Lovelace: “We have to recognize that if we have something that is this big a piece of our economy that is subsidized by being illegal, that this is an unsustainable situation”
Third District Supervisor Mark Lovelace, co-chair of a California State Association of Counties working group on marijuana, agreed. He said that with the movement around legalization building, it’s important to figure out what problems need to be addressed.
“We have to recognize that if we have something that is this big a piece of our economy that is subsidized by being illegal, that this is an unsustainable situation,” Lovelace said.
Hamilton said legalization would be “devastating” to the Emerald Triangle, and would displace thousands of people who grow, process, and distribute marijuana.
She said Humboldt County has “branding options” that could help it capitalize on marijuana, even after legalization. Efforts should focus on helping residents learn business skills to foment their agricultural jobs, Hamilton believes.
“We have to embrace marijuana tourism, marijuana products and services — and marijuana has to become a part of the Humboldt County brand,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said she expects members of the Garberville Rotary, the medical communty, “self-employed rural residents”and representatives from the Humboldt Area Foundation and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to attend Tuesday night’s meeting.
Kathy Moxon, director of community strategies at the Humboldt Area Foundation, said she hopes to have a conversation about positive things that can be done for the local economy, and how residents feel about their economic status.
“It could be a healthy conversation about how it’s going to affect our community economically, and what we can do,” she said. “There needs to be something regionally.”