The recently published opinion by John Myers of Arcata advocating legitimacy for the cultivators and purveyors of marijuana (”Marijuana grows aren't going anywhere,” Times-Standard, Sept. 1, Page A4) contains several assertions that defy both reason and reality. That author also omits consideration of appurtenant consequences that have arisen as the marijuana trade has embedded itself into our communities and economy.

California voters passed Proposition 215 in compassion for the legitimate users of an otherwise illicit drug who suffer from certain medically defined ailments. Persons afflicted with AIDS, glaucoma, recovery from chemotherapy, certain forms of arthritis, and other conditions appear to benefit. These are the folks that I and many of my fellow Californians had in mind when voting for Proposition 215. However, we did not do so to provide for commercial activities devoted to recreational use or for export across state lines. We did not do so to encourage or offer safe harbor to individuals and businesses engaged in illegal land development, environmental degradation, tax evasion, code violations, and property crime. The latest ballot proposition advocating legalization for recreational use was defeated less than a year ago. I can only pity Mr. Myers' loss of short term memory in this regard.

Mr. Myers may be right when inferring that the marijuana “industry” is here to stay. Maybe Al Capone had similar thoughts in his day as he spread grief and violence in pursuit of personal wealth. The problem is that the commercial production and sale of marijuana is not an industry. It is, under current state and federal law, a criminal activity. The costs of this industry are readily apparent. Regarding the “indoor” growers; the rental property market has been distorted as indoor grows proliferate, raising landowner risk and diminishing an already low stock of affordable housing. The documented abuses of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s low income energy subsidy program robs the poor for whom the program is intended and defrauds the contributing ratepayers.

Outdoors, rural agricultural and forest land markets are distorted. When property values are based on an illegal use, legitimate uses are constrained. This is a particularly cruel circumstance when inheritance taxes come due and heirs must pay against a grossly inflated assessment. Outdoor grows, including the so-called Mom and Pop operations, generally depend on water withdrawals without right or permit from the Department of Water Resources, thus depleting late season cold water flows crucial for certain fish populations. The cumulative effect of small scale operations equals or exceeds that of the more notorious large scale grows. Trash, abandoned plastic irrigation lines that decay and wash into watersheds, herbicides, pesticides, human waste and other external costs of this supposedly noble endeavor are borne by all.

Meanwhile, environmental advocacy groups such as the Environmental Protection Information Center, the Sierra Club, and the North Coast Environmental Center are strangely silent. Apparently their business is to sue for the purpose of acquiring attorney's fees rather than to actually address clear environmental threats. State enforcement agencies best positioned to address the environmental assault, such as the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, are missing in action.

This is not a victimless activity. Wildlife suffers, water quality suffers, and people suffer. If you enjoy marijuana as a recreational drug, then go ahead. Grow one or two plants on your own property or in your own home and use the product yourself; no one is going to bother you. Grab a bag of Doritos and park yourself in front of your HDTV. Please just leave the rest of us alone.

: Source