“We can make HMB the Napa of Pot” was the quote from the representative of Rocket Farms. How do you feel about that? Many are feeling cautious like coastal local Kellie Morlock, and curator of the Coastside Buzz Music Calendar. She wrote this article for the HMB Review and Coastside Buzz to get as many HMB citizens to address this potentially major shift in our economy and culture. PLEASE get out and share your views with the City Staff on Wednesday, September 13, at the Ted Adcock Center at 6:30 pm!
Also watch/listen the 8/15/17 City Council Discussion with staff, growers and citizens.
Under pressure from moneyed, mostly out-of-town growers, our City government is currently fast-tracking an ordinance to allow large-scale pot growing and retail sales in town, before considering all the facts.
While the idea of collecting massive revenue from growing pot is very appealing, let’s not get too high on this idea before examining the reality, and what the impact could be on our community.
I’ve seen stories about how legalization of growing and distributing pot has helped save some small towns from ruin, but luckily our town has overcome its financial challenges and is very good fiscal shape. At the last City Council meeting, Councilman Eisen stated that our City doesn’t need the revenue from growing and selling pot.
And we aren’t even guaranteed any income if our City does legalize growing pot! Passing a tax at the ballot is far from certain, especially in this town. And without a tax in place, there is NO revenue for the City. A tax can’t even be on the ballot before June 2018, so writing an ordinance now to allow growing, and retail sales of pot before this “minor” detail is resolved is foolish. If the voters end up rejecting a pot-growing tax, then we literally have all risk and NO REWARD. That simply makes no sense. The ordinance must be written so that commercial growing and sales is not allowed unless a significant tax has been approved by voters.
So what exactly are the risks involved in allowing large-scale commercial pot growing in our very small town? Consider, who will actually work in these operations? Huge revenue potential brings in the big guns – businesses that want solely to take advantage of the opportunity for profit, with zero regard for the local community. Think big tobacco, big pharma, and other even less savory businesses. With so much money on the line, the pot growers only work with people they know and trust. Experience in Colorado, Washington and Oregon has shown they will bring their own workers in with them, leaving local workers in the dust.
Importing workers for pot-growing ventures results in displacement of already at-risk segments of our community: the people who rent on the coast and the people who work here in agriculture. With a housing market as tight as ours, the pot-growers will throw cash into the rental market to house their employees. This will raise the already sky-high rents and force more people out of their homes. And by bringing in their own workers, our current agricultural workers will be displaced by the new-comers.
Another consideration is impact on the environment. The current proposal from the City requires indoor growth only, on the footprint of existing greenhouses. We have no current inventory of the greenhouse square footage within City limits, but the City is moving forward anyway without that information. Indoor grow houses use a tremendous amount of of energy – producing 4600 pounds of CO2 for every single pound of marijuana, the equivalent of burning 230 gallons of gasoline. If we care about the environment, this is a crazy way to show it.
Consider that we really have no idea what the cost will be to oversee this operation. There will also be buckets of cash that cannot be processed through the banks, since this is still illegal federally, which brings its own issues. There is also the fact that our nation’s Attorney General has pledged to go after this industry, and that as a small community we are an easy target. This adds a whole other element to the discussion.
Why change the social fabric and culture of Half Moon Bay by turning it into a drug town? Growing pot and selling hashish and dab will not make this a better place. I find it horribly ironic that the same council members who want to preserve the charm and character of HMB will run willy nilly into such a potentially huge change for our City.
If you care about our town as much as I do, PLEASE get out and share your views with the City on Wednesday, September 13, at the Ted Adcock Center at 6:30 pm!
~ Blessing, Kellie Morlock