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Our community has a social contract which gives us a short term functional system. What our community lacks is a clear holistic picture of the essence of what our county wants to achieve. Our community has a task at hand. To establish a legal cannabis industry. As individuals we have two ways of processing it. One is the right side of the brain that will see the issue as a community connected. Or the left side of the brain that will see it as individual goals to be achieved with an accumulation of goals that will result in a completed task. This is only natural, but we need to also address the nurture part of the equation. Western culture was wowed by great minds like Sir Isaac Newton. And rightly so, he achieved great wonders by dissecting a complex issue down to a single part then following the narrow path of that part so we could better understand, control and reproduce it. This brilliant idea became the foundation of how we designed our schools for the last 300 years. We break everything into fragments, Though it is effective and essential, it is not the whole picture and it leads to problems. Even if an idea is based on good, it is bound to fail if it doesn’t address the needs of the overall essence of the whole. In addition, such good ideas tend to colonize the area they impact and dominate over other good ideas. We are seeing this around the world in regards to charities. A good fragmentation is only viable if it serves the essence of the whole.
Let’s take some fragmentation examples in the cannabis industry. When Canada legalized a large amount of first time investors, wanting to invest into something good, invested in Canadian cannabis companies. So did people that just wanted to get rich. No one was arguing that cannabis wasn’t a good product with a long track record of use. No one was arguing that to produce cannabis wasn’t beneficial financially. But they built the industry with the tools we were trained to use. They did it in a fragmented manner. No one sat down to establish the essence of what the industry should be. No one talked about patients, workers, community impact and over all goals. No one discussed that retail is essential to actually get the product to the consumer. So the production side was overbuilt. Over 10 billion dollars of real money was lost. The players left standing were only doing so by mergers. In the first year it was estimated that for every $150 million a company was valued, they had 1 billion in investor funds. They had enough money to build a robust production sector. Just think of what they could have achieved with 5 billion dollars invested into retail and community needs. All that money and opportunity lost. So now that we have been shown the epic failed path of fragmentation, we are now doing the same in California. Before Prop 64 we had 14k dispensaries in the state. After years of legal cannabis we have well under 1k. We have compassion, but only with heavy taxation. We have an extinction event on the horizon.
So here we are doing the same thing in our community. We have not defined the essence of our cannabis industry in Mendocino County. We are beginning to fragment. All fragments are working for their version of the good of the community. However, without a clear purpose of the overall essence of the community needs, they will fail.
Let’s take one issue that the majority of the community agrees on. That environmental damage and violent crime needs to be addressed. When Humboldt started to increase eradication, farmers moved to Mendocino. When Sonama did the same, more farmers came. Now we are seeing new signs that growers are becoming more mobile. Meaning they come in and clear a sight and pull one round and leave. Instead of the old days of clearing and staying for a decade or two. This is disturbing since it will be increasing the environmental impact by clearing more often. We have already proven that Law enforcement cannot keep up. But Prop 64 addressed this issue by high taxation and money allocated for eradication. Now we have 100s of millions of dollars piling up at the state level, we are starting to see funds arrive at the county level. All the while we have one fragment of the county that feels that the county is no longer trusted to fix the issue so they want to stop the cannabis program. They feel they are able to build their own program. One of their big issues is the lack of credible enforcement, which is a good cause. Yet they do not see that if the county doesn’t have a cannabis program, which has raised over 6 million, then we will not see the eradication money from the state. The state has made it perfectly clear that those who have a cannabis program will get the bulk of the money. Those wanting to increase eradication under the guise of a noble cause are working to stop the financial means of achieving more eradication. Those wishing to stop the cannabis industry are good people, and their ideas are in a narrow context on the surface look like good ideas, but when you fragment an issue from the whole essence then you have a failed fragment, no matter how good intentions are. As the saying goes “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.
All species have a tendency to try and dominate and colonize an environment. This is also how we treat our ideas no matter how good, charitable or just. In the process we narrow our focus, in turn narrowing our contact with other members of the community. Leaving us more fragmented and farther from the overall essence of the community’s needs. No matter how good the idea is, it is bound to fail because it is not in service of the overall essence of the community.
All members have made mistakes during this process. From those who showed up late to the process, to the operators, counties, cities and the state. Mistakes are part of the process. Through the chaos of the process we gain the opportunity to build something. This process will proceed. We are looking at 20 years of development. How effective will we be, working in isolated fragments or in fragments that are representations of the essence of the whole community. This concept is unimaginable and incomprehensible to most raised in a western culture. But the cannabis community is unique. It is one of the most diverse cultures with a strong foundation in inclusiveness. I feel the cannabis community is strong enough to bring us together to overcome some imbalances in our nature and nurture.
-David King, Mendocino County Cannabis Farmer