If someone forces you to participate in an unfair and unjust system under fear of financial or physical pain, that is called tyranny. This is exactly what is happening here in the Sonoma County cannabis industry.
For many years the government has been calling me a criminal and trying to take away my freedom with illegal and vindictive prosecutions. They have broken many of the laws that they have lobbied to enact and have sworn to enforce. They've realized the futility and failure of their attempts at cannabis eradication in the country. Now they are trying a different approach through legislation.
As our ag commissioner stated at a Ukiah gathering last year, "the government officials could not have come up with a better plan to force the small farmer out of the industry."
If you take away growers' income from cannabis, they will need government assistance with housing, medical care and food. You can't make a living in Sonoma County working at a $15 an hour job. Growing good cannabis requires an advanced skill-set—and we have that workforce already in place. There is a market for cannabis and it will be supplied by people in whatever county allows it.
People will take great risks to survive and the government doesn't seem to realize the consequences of their policies. Putting a lien on someone's property is inviting litigation that is both expensive and counterproductive. Many have headed back to the hills where they can walk away unscathed. The head of the California Sheriff's Association says it will take twenty years to figure out how to make Proposition 64 work. I say it's already failing, and that it won't work without significant cottage industry participation.
The world knows about cannabis in the North Bay and we are letting government kill the golden goose of a healthy cannabis culture and industry. The big corporate players are not going to support our local communities beyond mandatory permit fees and taxes. All their profits will be going elsewhere. Car dealers, restaurants, shopping malls and all the businesses that make up the Sonoma County economy are already suffering because of the cruel and corrupt practices and policies around cannabis.
Oaky Joe Munson lives in Forestville. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write firstname.lastname@example.org.