I ended this week with four different ideas to blog about, but three of them never seemed to coalesce, and the fourth started to turn into a thesis on the unintended consequences of the marijuana industry in California, so I scrapped them all and started over. Marijuana still gets some play, but I tried to control myself.
The weather is turning cooler and it is time to head south. We finished all of our service appointments in Eugene only partially satisfied. We are finding that when it comes to making warranty repairs on our RV, if they can’t fix something they try to convince us that broken is the way it is supposed to be in the first place. In a way I am glad that our initial warranty period is over and we can take care of our repairs ourselves. I know this seems odd, but I feel that the hassle of dealing with people who don’t listen to you is more stressful than finding our own solutions.
We headed to McKinleyville, CA, to spend a couple of days with Sherry and Randy, friends from our first NOMADS stop in Wyoming. McKinleyville is a little over our maximum daily mileage, so we made a stop in Cave Junction, Oregon, just north of the Oregon-California border. Cave Junction is the home of Oregon Caves.
Oregon Caves were discovered when a hunter’s dog went into a hole after a bear. While many would have left the dog to fend for himself, this guy didn’t and the rest is history. Nobody knows what happened to the bear. Oregon Caves are different from other coastal cave systems in that they are formed from marble and have an active stream system (a creek actually runs through them and out through the lodge and gift shop). I visited the caves as a child with my parents, and I am proud to say that 60 years later I am still able to climb the 500 stairs and navigate the narrow passageways and low rock ceilings. The caves are as interesting and as beautiful as they were when I was young, just a lot smaller than I remembered!
After our stay in Cave Junction we took the beautiful windy Hwy 199 through the redwood forests to McKinleyville, Humbolt County, California. For over 50 years the best pot in the country has been grown in Humboldt County, California. I know, because I used to smoke it. But what used to be illegal activity in the hills around these towns, zealously guarded by big dogs and big guns, has become an open flaunting of the existing laws. There are Quonset greenhouses and fenced groves alongside every road, and the supporting industries make up 40% to 70% of the local economy. Because the activity is still illegal, it is hard to get an accurate figure; marijuana is a cash-based business, and many local supporting businesses have had to learn how to launder huge amounts of cash. There are acres of “garden centers” with hundreds of pallets of potting soil and soil amendments and mountainous piles of irrigation supplies, billboards advertising growing aids, new businesses springing up selling clones (only the female plants produce bud, and they can guarantee all female clones), and there are a lot of twenty-somethings aggressively driving new $60,000 pickup trucks.
Let me summarize this radically shortened rant by saying this: According to my research, there is an 11-person committee in Sacramento responsible for making sure that all of this activity, from where and how plants can be grown to setting guidelines to track the buds from fields to stores, as well as the industry’s impact on the watersheds is able to be regulated and taxed by January 2018, when the conditions as outlined in prop 64, California’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” go into effect. Right now, these 11 people are inarguably the most powerful folks in California.
One more thing. . .well, actually, two things that might happen. Illegal marijuana is usually grown on public land, and so far the growers have been able to escape any fines, fees or government restrictions. It may turn out that illegal marijuana can reach the consumer much less expensively than legal regulated pot. In the free market I’m not sure how that will wash. The other possibility is that when Big Ag sees that they can get $1000/pound for marijuana as opposed to around $1.50/pound for, say, strawberries, how much of the Central Valley will be converted to pot fields, what will happen to coastal communities in Northern California which are supported by this business, and how much will I have to pay for strawberries? Just saying.
Okay, one more thing. In California it is mandated that the state pay half of the housing costs for people below a certain poverty line. Housing in the northern counties is relatively cheap, so other California cities have been sending the poor and homeless up north where the state’s housing obligation is about half of what it is anywhere else in the state. Lots of these people can make $200/day (cash) trimming pot and still have the state pay half their rent. The rest appear to be living on the beach.
Done now. Really.
The other cool thing we did while visiting Sherry and Randy, besides staying up late trying to solve the world’s problems, was dog agility trials. Sherry and Randy have two doggie kids, Tater Tot and Happy Camper, who became our dog Maybe’s best friends at the Circle J NOMADS site in Wyoming. Happy Camper is also a career agility puppy, and while we were visiting Sherry and Randy we got to see her do her stuff. I have always loved watching working dogs work, and it was fun to see it up close and personal.