Sunday, May 28, 2023

County Resident Argues Phase 3 of Cannabis Expansion Will Provide Jobs Giving Way to the ‘Return of the Middle Class’


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Malila Gordon, Mendocino County Resident and Member of the Cannabis Community [Picture provided by her]

To whom it may concern,

I was born in the era when Mendocino County was centralized around the booming timber industry. I witnessed this county in its glory days when Branscomb was an actual town with its own ball fields. When my small hometown of Laytonville had enough participants to support their own sports leagues without having to scour for every last able-bodied youth to field its teams. When our schools were filled with enough students to support the small class sizes and unique opportunities that allowed our youth to flourish. People were happy. Violent crime levels were low. 

The community we live in today is a different picture. Our crime rates are climbing. Our school enrollments are declining. In the past, illegal cannabis money was helping to support these communities and really give them the extra push that they needed economically. But what we fail to realize was that it was the local timber industry that was really holding everything together. The logging industry provided jobs. It was our middle class. It was a way for our community members who didn’t participate in cannabis to make a decent living. Once our local timber industry crashed, we saw the effects it had on our population and felt the ripples. Our schools, police departments and hospitals suffered huge losses. It was a snowball effect that just got worse affecting each aspect of our communities. Sure, the black market saved a lot of individuals and our local economy was able to maintain as we saw new higher-end businesses coming into town being supported by a select few. But what we didn’t have any more was a working middle class or the population base to support our critical infrastructure. 

I hear lots of arguments for and against Phase 3 cannabis expansion, but what I don’t think we hear enough is what is best for the people. I believe that under the current proposal set forth before you we will see the biggest improvement to our local communities that we have seen in decades. Cannabis expansion will give way to the return of the middle class. We will have the ability to provide jobs for people who otherwise may be working for minimum wage, struggling to survive and support their families. People will no longer have to make the tough to decisions to continue living minimally or relocating elsewhere to raise their families. People will have the ability to work as trimmers, farm laborers, lab technicians, agricultural specialists. They will be able to make a good living, to receive benefits and to establish Mendocino County as their homes forever. Cannabis has the ability to do what the timber industry did for our communities by way of return of the middle class.

I hear people say that cannabis is a part our heritage and the commercialization of it within Mendocino County would thus ruin what we were built on. But I disagree. Large-scale cannabis expansion would return us to our heritage. Our heritage isn’t just about our small cannabis operations. Our heritage is our people. Our heritage is our sense of community. It’s our children playing in our parks. It’s our schools having enough students to receive the funding necessary to support the special programs that once made them unique. It’s feeling safe because our crime rates are low as we have the means for everyone to make a good living. It’s knowing that when you’re in need of help your local departments can respond quickly because we have the ability to fund them. Our heritage is dependent on the middle class and without scaled cannabis expansion we don’t have an industry to support it.

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I ask of you today to think about what is truly best for the people who reside in this county. Don’t just think about a few cannabis operators, but think about the future of our county. Think about the things that made us fall in love with this area. Think about what we could become again. Think about our true heritage. 


Malila Gordon, Mendocino County Resident and Member of the Cannabis Community

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  1. I appreciate and respect your attitudes, your perspectives and your thoughtful insight. Thank you for your willingness to share and illustrate the commonalities of the industries of old and the agricultural realities of the new age in which we are trying to thrive. We would do well to listen, thoughtfully consider and appreciate the value of your perspectives.

  2. Maybe, maybe not.
    As all this is being considered, it would be useful to have some sort of realistic projection about exactly what kind and how many of these jobs might actually be generated, and by whom. Dreams of yesteryear have a comfortably nostalgic feel, but time moves forward and the situation is very different today, both here and in the larger world. Lumber did well because the county was naturally covered with forests. There are no indoor timberlands. Cannabis can be rapidly grown almost anywhere.

  3. You are on track but we need to take a couple of things into consideration. 50 percent of the wage earners have seen a decline in wages over the last 30 years in the entire country. 30 years ago we had a non functional system that could not produce enough wealth for retirees to survive. The last time we witnessed that was in the 60s. To match the 60s income to housing cost ratio memdocino median income would be over 230k per year. The economic system is broken and cannabis won’t fix that. But it will bring the largest income the county has seen with the smallest environmental footprint. We need phase 3. We need to expand as we can manage it. But we need to design a system that keeps the money in a circular economy model not an extractive model. Which model will have more owners in the community? Which model will have a larger ratio of fulltime year around employees compared to migrant employees. We need an exclusive environmentally sound expansion with a structure that supports the local workforce. We need to try and reduce the bubble and burst green rush we are about to embark on. Our decisions today could give work to generations. Cannabis has centuries of market demand. Leta set it up for 7 generations to come.

  4. We’re in the worst Drought on Record. Does this Spark any thoughts, consideration of where all the water is suppose to come from? I look at the Eel and remember how it flowed this time of year. Here in Round Valley where my family has lived for over 100 yrs and the land had all the Artisan water we desired. A guy buys up the field next to ours and began Selling the water. Water trucks going all times of the day and night. All the surrounding neighbors had their wells going dry or so low. Complaints were made and he stopped. Im not against Ma and Pa grows but this is getting out of Control and I believe there isn’t enough Law Enforcement to Control all the Big Illegal grows as they’re Not faring to well as it is. I remember too well when Vineyards started Clearing Woodlands, Hillsides.

    • I think it’s worth pointing out that trucking water and illegal grows are not what phase 3 is about. Those are illegal and disallowed practices. The way to stop that from happening is to have enforcement measures that are functional.

  5. You are absolutely correct, The growers have taken every drop that should have gone into the river, every wet spot is put in a tank. the temp of the water in the river has rizen. In Sept. it will be stagnant, IF THERE IS ANY LEFT!

  6. Ha Ha Ha! Totally predictable childlike wishful thinking with no attachment to reality on the limits of growth. I dare you all to read the following article in full. I think the AVA even re-printed it.

    “They are right to say that the human-scale, convivial approaches of those 1970s thinkers are never going to work if the world continues to formulate itself according to the demands of late capitalist industrialism. They are right to say that a world of 9 billion people all seeking the status of middle-class consumers cannot be sustained by vernacular approaches. They are right to say that the human impact on the planet is enormous and irreversible.”

    “This was the birth of what would become known as the “green” movement. I sometimes like to say that the movement was born in the same year I was—1972, the year in which the fabled Limits to Growth report was commissioned by the Club of Rome—and this is near enough to the truth to be a jumping-off point for a narrative.”

    Excerpts from “DARK ECOLOGY: Searching for truth in a post-green world
    by Paul Kingsnorth”

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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