With the passing of Proposition 64, Californian voters opted to allow recreational marijuana in the state. The sale of marijuana is set to take plane from January 1st, 2018 onwards and all eyes are on California to see how well the state will do. It will be by far the largest marijuana industry in the USA, dwarfing both Oregon and Washington combined in terms of projected revenue. Most people in California are very optimistic about marijuana and are eager to see it pass, but so far marijuana in California has ran into many hurdles despite its potential social, economic and health benefits.
Pot Pushed Indoors
It has recently come to public attention that there is an incredible amount of illegal growing operations in California. These illegal growing operations are catastrophic to the environment as they leave desolated wastelands full of chemicals. Black market growers do not abide by any regulatory process, and the majority of these operations are run by illegal immigrants, most notable Mexican drug cartels. An added disadvantage is that the quality of weed is laden with toxins and not fit for human consumption. But it makes its way to the black market and is consumed by people who do not know any better, thinking they are ingesting a beneficial plant which is actually harming their bodies due to the ultra-high toxin levels that are never checked for.
It is for this reason, among others, that Merced County Sheriff wants pot pushed indoors. It is not possibly to track and monitor all of the illegal growing operations, the resources are simply not there. The office has busted a number of operations and have discovered what counties such as Humboldt and others have found – toxic, chemical laden wastelands. According to Sgt. Ray Framstad“We have chemicals that we have no idea what they are”. The Merced County planning commission meets next week to discuss the county’s plan to ban the growth of 12 plants outdoors. The ordinance would allow only the six plants grown indoors, which is the state standard. The sheriff’s office will be part of the presentation at the meeting, according to Framstad, who said moving growing indoors would be best. Cannabis advocates say indoor growing is more expensive and a burden on the most vulnerable.
Let them Be
The point of view of the sheriff’s office is understandable. There are a number of growth operations growing terrible marijuana that should not come anywhere near a human being. But the suggestion is immature and problematic for a number of reasons. One such reason is that the free market will do a better job than any sort or regulatory ban on indoor or outdoor growth. Come January 2018 there will be stricter rules and requirements on marijuana sale and distribution. Meaning that the marijuana will not make its way to the recreational market. And as people can simply grow their own anyway, there is no need to get marijuana from the black market. Let the illegal growers grow their black marijuana. It won’t pass any compliance standards or independent testing. There will be no reason for average residents to trust back market dealers when they can simply go down to the shop and get marijuana that they know is of a high quality. Or else they can ask their friends, as every neighborhood is going to have a cultivator or two growing organic, local weed for the community. Black market marijuana will be the last option, and if people are foolish enough to purchase this then natural selection should take its course. And it fundamentally makes no sense to punish hundreds of thousands of innocent growers simply because there will be a few people foolish enough to buy black market marijuana. This is a draconian policy, sometimes referred to as Socialism, that punishes 99% to protect 1%.
A Point of Debate
There is debate at the moment as to whether or not outdoor growing is easier or more difficult than indoor growing. Outdoor growing might require more skills, but indoor growing will require more money due to electricity and nutrients. Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke has taken a hard line against marijuana growth of any kind, saying it draws violence to cultivation sites and is bad for the environment. “The people growing this are absolutely polluting our groundwater…. The environmental impacts are bad. The criminal impacts are worse.” Recently, armed suspects in Calaveras County posing as law enforcement officials stole nearly 500 marijuana plants, a large amount of cash and a truck, tying up some of the victims they robbed. Before this, a teenager and an adult male were found dead at a cultivation site in San Joaquin County, according to the Stockton Record. Merced County raided 191 illegal growing sites from October 2016 to October 2017, according to Framstad, confiscating more than 54,000 plants. They also took 30 guns at those sites.
A Balanced Approach
While the police officers in this instance are commended in that they actually seem to be battling genuine crime, it has to be seen for what it is. These crimes are the dying breaths of black market marijuana, which cannot exist in an environment where marijuana is regulated and legal. How can it? The profits and incentives will not be there. Putting stiff penalties in place for growers who fail to adhere to environmental policies is a more balanced approach than forcing all marijuana indoors, which many cannot afford.