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We have had legal marijuana cultivation in Mendocino County for several years. As a resident of Covelo, I have watched hoop houses and gardens sprout all over town. As a teacher at the school, I have watched the students start the year full of enthusiasm only to drop off in their attendance and motivation in October when the crops ripen, filling the air around the school with skunky odor, and filling the bodies of the students with disinterest in anything but being stoned.
Legalizing this plant was inevitable, but it only increased the illegal and dangerous climate in our home towns, because frankly, regulations strangled legitimate growers, and enforcement of the law is barely existent. If you were going to be afraid to enforce it, you had no business legalizing it.
We run cows on various properties. These properties are covered with illegal grows, too many plants, illegal generators, lights, poorly constructed illegal roads and pesticides.
Now, they, since many are growing on rangeland that has no water source, are pumping water out of the valley and hauling it up the mountain to the tune of hundreds of thousands of gallons a day. The trucks are illegal as are the sellers of water. The Cartel thinks the law is a big joke.
Our wells are going dry, but their plants and crime are flourishing. Our legitimate businesses are struggling, but illegal growers, most of them residing outside the county, are sailing around, destroying our roads with their speed and heavy trucks. The lights from the grow houses are brighter than the regular lights from the town when viewed from the mountain. Now, individuals are sucking our water out of the ground as fast as they can, endangering the rest of the population’s ability to create defensible spaces around their homes and have water for fighting fire, not to mention destroying our ability to live here.
This is an emergency situation you need to address. You are responsible not for the Cartels’ well-being, but for the well-being of those of us who are legitimately paying taxes on our products. We did not elect you to preen before the small population of legitimate farmers, but to look out for the well-being of all your constituents. If there is not enough money available to shut down the illegal water pumping and thus protect the rest of our residents, then you had better find the money.
Please help us!!! We are, at this point, beyond desperate!!!
Retired teacher, Rancher, citizen of Covelo