WEED OUT THE GROW HOUSES
If you grew an agricultural product in a residential zone for commercial resale -- any city would shut you down for zoning violations. Yet if the product is marijuana, most Humboldt County cities give you a pass.
Let's say I want to grow tomatoes in my home for resale to the Co-op. How many governmental agencies would be inspecting my home and product for quality control? From the Department of Agriculture, city building department, health department, fire department, insurance companies, tax authorities, etc. But if the product is marijuana, then there is absolutely zero regulation, oversight or taxation.
Marijuana grow houses have flourished in Humboldt County for numerous reasons. From a vaguely written law, to a progressive tolerant political atmosphere, to our district attorney who put in writing you can grow 99 plants and not get prosecuted, to local judges ordering law enforcement to give back seized marijuana ( which had been destroyed ), to underfunded/staffed law enforcement prioritizing violent crimes, to marijuana attorneys who figured out how to game the system for their clients. These all set off the perfect storm -- the proliferation of marijuana grow houses throughout Humboldt County.
The spirit of Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, was to allow seriously and terminally ill patients to use marijuana to alleviate pain and suffering. Yet cash is what marijuana grow houses are all about -- not compassionate use. At $3,000 a pound wholesale, the average grow house can make $100,000 per year in tax-free cash.
Marijuana grow houses take housing stock from working people and the dopers will happily pay a premium rent to have the landlord leave them alone. Unfortunately this drives up all the other rents in the city and leaves fewer homes available to rent.
Marijuana grow houses invite home invasion robberies. Eureka ( Cutten ) just had its first marijuana related murder a few months ago. Most of these crimes go unreported as the dopers can't go to the police for fear of losing their drugs and cash and being arrested.
Many marijuana grow houses dealers request PG&E's low-income utility rate subsidy. Since dopers run a cash business and claim no income and pay no taxes, they can qualify for this subsidy. Not only do grow houses use anywhere from five to 10 times the amount of energy as the typically house on the block, you and I are subsidizing their high energy bills.
The biggest problem with marijuana grow houses is that many of the dopers illegally alter the electrical system with little or zero knowledge of the building codes. Health and safety hazards of electrical overloads, improper ventilation and fires are serious issues for any of the neighbors living next door to a marijuana grow house.
Recently the city of Arcata modified their laws regarding the marijuana grow houses. Now a neighbor can file an anonymous report of a grow house to get a code compliance investigation started.
The city building department ( in conjunction with law enforcement ) can obtain a search warrant to inspect a suspected grow house for building code violations. If any violations are found, the owner of the property is notified in writing and can be fined. The city can also request for PG&E to remove that home's master meter. There is a $2,500 cost to have a PG&E meter restored after all electrical code violations have been corrected by a licensed contractor and inspected again by the city and PG&E.
Personally, I support the legalization and taxation of marijuana. Recent studies have estimated that if we legalized marijuana it would bring the state of California alone over $1 billion in annual tax revenues. For those who disagree, how well did Prohibition stop the sale and consumption of alcohol? Cigarettes kill an estimated 400,000 American each year and tobacco farmers get tax subsidies.
The polls clearly show Americans becoming more tolerant toward marijuana. To make marijuana legitimate, we need some sort of standardization and quality control on the product. Let's start by weeding the dopers out of our residential neighborhoods.
Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2009 Times-Standard