EDITORIAL. Now that marijuana has been made legal in California by a large majority of voters, one of the ballot measures you will be voting on soon is a local one, Measure GG. It allows only farmers with existing greenhouses to apply for permission to use that greenhouse space, now mostly unprofitable and underutilized, to grow cannabis starts (seedlings) under very specific, limited, secure and tightly regulated circumstances. Our greenhouses are among the few that qualify.
Here are the facts. Cannabis starts cannot be smoked or eaten. These immature plants don’t even yet have THC, the compound that gives marijuana its psychoactive effects. They are, therefore, of no interest to anyone except potential growers of the full plants.
The measure requires annual licensing, strict limits on locations, size and lighting, and regular inspections to make sure the plants are never allowed to grow past this seedling stage. They have no smell, and no environmental, energy, or water impact beyond what growing anything else in greenhouses has. In fact, they use less water than other plants that have been grown in those greenhouses.
Other crops will not be displaced. Measure GG limits cannabis starts to existing greenhouses, which are currently underutilized. Measure GG will not displace workers. And the environmental impact is no different from growing other plants in greenhouses, which was done without harm. GG is very specific. It won’t allow these starts to be grown infield and no additional greenhouses can be built.
Opponents have two main arguments.
First, they say it will be “a foot in the door,” and that it “gives the cannabis industry a foothold from which it will aggressively lobby.” What this means is that opponents really have no objection to this particular measure — they are just worried about other things that may or may not possibly, in some way, potentially happen at some time in the future. The time to stop those things is when they are actually proposed or on the ballot, not with this completely innocuous measure which benefits some local farmers without causing any harm to anyone. This measure contains none of the things they fear, and, in fact, has serious protections against what they fear. The place to put a stop sign is where you actually want people to stop, not a mile before.
Secondly, opponents worry it will somehow “normalize the use of marijuana” for our youth, and send a message that it is harmless. When California voters overwhelmingly voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana, whatever messages you believe might be sent were sent. Allowing farmers to grow seedlings in their enclosed, private, secure greenhouses is not sending a message to anyone, except an important one to those local farmers. This measure says that we value their work and contribution to our community, and that we want them to succeed.
And that leads to the main reason to vote for this measure. This measure causes no harm to the community and does help some struggling farmers, your friends and neighbors. And we are struggling for the same reasons as you all are struggling, notably due to the high cost of living in our area. We are in serious danger of losing the rural, agricultural nature of the Coastside, which is one of the reasons so many of you chose to live here.
The Coastside is ideal for growing these seedlings, with its stock of already existing but severely underutilized greenhouses, and its population of farmers and agricultural workers.
Next time you are at the farmers market, ask yourself if the farmer you see today will still be here next year. Some are on the verge of giving up a financially unsustainable way of life. Growing cannabis starts is a lifeline for people you know, the people who helped give Half Moon Bay its agricultural character.
Please join Eda and me and vote “yes” in favor of Measure GG.
~ John Muller is a farmer living and working in Half Moon Bay.
~ Photos by the San Jose Mercury News and Michelle Dragony