I just became aware of an interesting piece that National Public Radio posted on their website. The upshot of the piece is that falling prices are having a negative impact on the local marijuana economy. Click here for the article. To those in the know, this isn’t news.
Now I am sure that the K.C. Meadows crowd is having a good ol’ time over this latest wrinkle in the “what a long strange trip its been” history of the county. However, to those of us who live and work here, this is no joke. The potential loss of income which is clearly greater than that of the timber and grape sectors combined is simply devastating.
There is historical precedent for our situation. In the 1930’s, during the First Great Depression (as opposed to the present Hidden Great Depression) farm prices fell through the floor. This was caused by the skyrocketing unemployment and economic devastation throughout the economy.
FDR’s response was the AAA, the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which was designed to stabilize farm prices which a reactionary Supreme Court, much like the present institution, declared unconstitutional. Of course, agriculture has never enjoyed stability.
Farmers have always been exposed to the ups and downs of the market like no other sector. In 1890’s debtor farmers were put off their land when the Eastern money interests, backing a strong gold backed currency, drove down prices and made it impossible for farmers to make sufficient revenue to pay their mortgages. There is nothing which makes a plutocrat happier than to steal some poor farmer’s land.
I suspect that the current collapse of marijuana prices is a combination of increased supply and greatly diminished demand. Cannabis is, after all, more or less of a luxury. Food does come first with most folks, and folks are hurting everywhere. The rise in the number of pot busts in the Sunset District of San Francisco demonstrate that growing pot is not a Mendocino County monopoly. Pot can be grown anywhere.
One thing is abundantly clear. There is no FDR out there to stabilize our agricultural prices and make things all better. We can hope, however, that we will stop eating our own. This means an end to the senseless marijuana prosecutions and forfeiture actions which make a mockery of justice and good sense. If we are a community, we will start making sure that we all get through these difficult times with dignity and mutual respect.