Officials: Marijuana industry bolsters local economy
November 4, 2013
You will not see it printed on Chamber of Commerce pamphlets or tourist brochures advertising the outdoor activities, restaurants, retail shops and entertainment venues in Nevada County.
However, the widespread cultivation of marijuana that takes place every summer in all areas of the western part of the county generates significant amounts of money, a portion of which filters back into the community — particularly restaurants in downtown Nevada City.
"We are talking millions of dollars," said Supervisor Hank Weston, whose district hosts several grow operations. "I've heard one business owner say that it adds about $200,000 to his business on an annual basis."
Weston has heard the going rate for trimmers — or migrant workers who assist in the county's annual autumnal marijuana harvest — is around $200-$400 a day.
"They make pretty good money and then go down to the restaurants and bars to spend it," Weston said.
Greg Cook, the owner of Friar Tuck's in downtown Nevada City, who was formerly affiliated with the organization NORML — a marijuana advocacy organization — corroborated the gist of Weston's comments.
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"Trimmers make about $25 an hour, and there are no taxes," Cook said, adding that trimmers will come into town after a hard day's work and spend money on food and alcohol.
Matthew Margulies, owner of Matteo's Public in Nevada City, said the trimmers, or "trimmagrints," are great for his business.
"They have newfound money, and they want the good stuff," he said. "They are buying steaks, good beer and wine."
Margulies said the timing couldn't be better, as autumn is an otherwise slow season for tourist attractions in the Sierra Nevada.
"It extends the summer in terms of business," he said.
Cook said his establishment does even better in the fall due to the harvest. However, both Cook and Margulies conceded the trimming industry and the type of clientele it attracts can sometimes make for some unseemly congregations in the downtown corridor of Nevada City.
"There are some that are rude and inconsiderate," Margulies said, adding that he has had to ask a group of young individuals who were smoking cigarettes to stop congregating in front of his store.
A downtown retail business owner who preferred to remain anonymous labeled the incursion of massive amounts of trimmagrints as "a mixed bag."
Cook said people need to delineate between the trimmers, who actually work hard at a laborious and tedious job, and some of the loafers who sit around downtown all day with no discernible purpose.
"The trimmers are a different group," he said.
"They come into town, make some money and leave. Now the group hanging around the Boardwalk — they are not doing anything besides being bored and lazy."
There are no hard numbers available to measure the impact the marijuana industry has on the local economy, but anecdotal information depicts it as infusing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars back into local businesses.
"It's all anecdotal," Weston said, "but it's big money."
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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