In this region renowned for potent marijuana buds, many in Humboldt County long accepted that legalizing the weed was the right thing to do.
Now some folks aren't so sure.
A statewide initiative in November would allow cities to regulate pot possession and cultivation. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has proposed a broader legalization. Neither is certain to pass.
Yet as medical marijuana has spread and city and state budgets are being slashed, legalized marijuana is becoming more possible than ever. That has some people here thinking twice.
We encourage you to read linked article from the L.A. Times as it is a very nice account of some of the consequences of a legal marijuana economy and the apprehensions of those who have been participating in the underground marijuana economy for years now.
After years and years of counter-culture lifestyles and sticking it to the man, the old hippies of Humboldt County are suddenly discovering their inner Milton Friedman and awakening to economic self-interest with the specter of the legalization of marijuana.
We're still not sure how we are going to vote on these measures in November. We remain skeptical that pot legalization will have the deleterious effect on society as some say, however, we go into full reflex mode when we hear how this new revenue stream generated from a taxable product will help California's budget woes. That sort of pie-in-the-sky thinking is nearly grounds for automatic dismissal as California's budget problems aren't from a lack of incoming revenue. Besides, the last thing we want to do is give the state government more money. Oh, and sticking it to those NoCal hippies (hell, hippies everywhere) also weighs heavily in the "no" column.
Fears that the marijuana market will be overrun and diluted by mass-producing Central Valley farmers may well be unfounded because as the market matures and, much like the wine market, the branding of smaller Humboldt and Mendocino-grown herb will start holding sway over the buying public. Boutique weed, anyone?
Frankly, we're fascinated to see how government regulation and free market forces will shape the pot market. We never thought we would pen that last sentence.
Oh, to be having this conversation right now with our old hemp t-shirt-wearing and "Let It Grow" bumper sticker-sporting, Pacific Beach duplex mates, Devin, Big John and Gumby.
P.S. Anecdotally speaking and from a second hand source, some enterprising youngsters have gamed the system already by figuring out a way to obtain the "pot card" necessary to gain entrance to medical marijuana outlets via an online application without even having to get a doctor's signature.