introduced by Tom Ammiano, to the california legislative system, is the first piece of sound politics our state has seen in years.
But there are real challenges ahead, both in the legislative field and in the thriving grey marketplace that has sprung up all over
California since senate bill 420 was officially ratified in 1996. For the first time since the founding fathers, Americans
can grow and raise a crop they know to be beneficial, sustainable, healthy, and lucrative, without fear of persecution. In 1637 in Hartford Connecticut, and in the Massachusetts courts in 1639, an order was placed stating that "all families must plant one teaspoon of hemp seed. That we might in time have supply of linen cloth among ourselves." From this same sense of economic desperation and resolve to best utilize the natural resources at hand, comes my hope that a similar order would soon stand for California families.
One of the most important isues that needs to be addressed, is worker protection . I have personally worked on many farms
over the years, and while there are a sizeable number of respectable farmers who treat their workers with dignity, there are also a large number who don't. Additionally, these rogue growers often take little responsibility for the quality of their crop, resulting in substandard medication in a marketplace that is supposed to foster health, not profit. It has become clear to me that these practices must be stopped, and that crop quality be made a priority, if we are to be taken seriously as an industry. This won't happen if regulators come out to a farm that is haphazard and run by criminal profiteers. The best course of action here, is to allow regulation of the industry, so that irresponsible growers are eventually buried under red tape and fines, allowing responsible and law abiding citizens to continue
in their work unbothered by outlaws.
The other area which concerns me greatly, is the intrusion of corporate entities into the marijuana industry. We must act swiftly
and clearly to raise awareness and keep them out. Since 1907, Oklahoma, and certain counties in Pennsylvania and several other midwestern states have adopted strict anti-corporate farming laws. Our own city of Arcata has banned the construction of additional corporate stores within its' city limits. In addition, Arcata has even created it's own currency to keep wealth within the local populace. If given the opportunity, giant corporations like Monsanto, RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris will immediately set up shop and begin pushing out the local growers. This will totally undermine the point of Ammiano's bill - namely, the creation of jobs and wealth for California citizens. I would suggest the adoption of plain language city and county ordinances that prohibit any corporation from purchasing land or participating in the farming of marijuana in the respective areas. I think these initiatives would be met with great enthusiasm by the people of humboldt, mendocino and trinity counties especially, as their livelihood has long been based on the local production and distribution of this plant.
If we do this right, we can create millions of jobs, for our struggling friends and families in local communities, while also creating billions in tax revenue in a state on the verge of financial collapse. Farmers in the central valley squeezed by drought and the need to produce crops with high production costs, would have the alternative to produce hemp or marijuana. The home grower will no longer experience fear, persecution and jail time. We must follow the examples of the hemp growing Virginia colonists, and raise awareness about better possibilities.
Either we help all of us, and California, or we allow our one homegrown industry to be buried in successive corporate takeovers of large swaths of land. It's up to us! I hope we make the right decision.