|Santa Rosa Press Democrat
|Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman: “We are, of course, supportive of legitimate medical marijuana here.”
Tell me what company you keep and I’ll tell you what you are.
~ Miguel de Cervantes, “Don Quixote de la Mancha Part II” (1615)
By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
Conventional wisdom for anyone living north of Santa Rosa is that marijuana is an integral component of California’s economy. In the beginning, growers were tolerated by the locals as misfits of society who had migrated north to avoid the world of straight jobs and or had fled to Mendo with the ‘back to the county’ movement to grow their organic beans and fruit.
Venerable local institutions such as the timber and fishing industries were leery of the young freaks with their torn jeans and rusting VW vans. Their fears were soon justified when that first generation found that there were endless acres of hidden land stashed in them there hills.
If a guy could find a secluded patch in the hills that was close to water and had sun, he had the makings of his first clandestine start-up. The Timber giants viewed the encroaching growers as threats to their land, their water, and to the political dominance that they held in NorCal since the mid-19th century.
By the 1980s, the marijuana industry was entrenched and blooming, much to the chagrin of local law enforcement and community leaders. These former lazy rejects were driving new trucks, sending their kids to school, and buying their veggies at Safeway just like everyone else.
Thirty years later it is estimated that cannabis industry generates around 13 billion dollars in annual sales. And that’s what is available to count. The timber industry is now a hollow trunk of its former self. The salmon and other fish populations have been so drastically depleted in the last few decades that fishermen can’t rely on their yield from season to season. Many fishing boats on the coast have gone belly up.