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Our View: Going to pot

The price of cannabis is going to, well, pot.

Call it a sign of the times, the fallout of legalization or Adam Smith’s invisible hand rolling a doobie. There’s more supply than demand in a state the size of California. That’s great for people buying the product, and terrible for those trying to make a living while growing it.

Who would have thought that the path to legalization was so narrow that only a select few could stay on it? Or, more ominously, that only the large, corporate cannabis growers would survive?



That’s what some people are worried about in Nevada County — the disappearance of the cottage grower.

No one locally was in favor of the big guy as this county struggled through the Board of Supervisors’ ban on outdoor grows, Measure W and the years-long process afterward of writing a cannabis ordinance. This was about the small guy, the local grower who sustained him or herself on growing cannabis.



That’s the person who’s hurting right now, and that’s the person our local and state leaders need to help.

Like it or not, pot growers have been contributing to this community for decades, long before medicinal cannabis reared its head. The disappearance of the local grower, and the trimmigrant population that appeared like clockwork each season, is going to hurt economically. We might not feel its effects immediately, but they’ll be there, like a slow burn.

You might ask, what’s it to me? No one is owed a certain profit, the market will figure this out, and I don’t want the government favoring one business over another.

Problem is, pot is unlike any other legal commodity that exists. It’s still illegal on the federal level, it was illegal in California for decades, and the people who are emerging from the shadows deserve our help, if not for them, then for this county which has a rich history involving cannabis.

Government decided that online businesses deserved a break from sales tax for years, and we collectively nodded our heads while cruising eBay. Online retailers eventually got on their own two feet, and tax typically is now added before you hit the “purchase” button.

Our state and local leaders were willing to help that fledgling industry when it was in its infancy. Is it now unwilling to help one in an infancy of legality?

We’re not advocating for the complete elimination of local and state taxes on cannabis. Instead, there should be a suspension of some of these fees, and relaxation of the most restrictive regulations, especially for the small-scale grower, which would give them a shot at being legal.

This would prop up local businesses while still helping fund enforcement, mitigation and prevention efforts targeting school-aged children.

We’ve seen all this before — a massive change in the law, or emerging technology, that changes the national landscape. The end of Prohibition took years before a legal alcohol market settled down. Multiple industries are still dealing with the emergence of the internet, and everything it brought.

What we need to do is figure out how to weather the upheaval in the cannabis industry, so our local growers and other business people are here when the seas calm.

A wise move to consider, and one that’s been advocated before, is a cannabis culture specific to Nevada County. Think Napa or Sonoma, names synonymous with wine, but instead for pot.

Our county could be a destination for cannabis connoisseurs who sleep in our inns, eat at our restaurants and buy their gas in our towns. Couple this with this county’s arts and theater scene, and you have the makings of a thriving cottage industry.

We just need our elected leaders’ help on the local and state level to make some changes.

Then going to pot might not be such a bad thing after all.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com


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