Cannabis Culture/FlickrEvery major pot-growing county voted against legalizing pot.
If someone wanted to sabotage Proposition 19 among pot growers, the wild rumor that spread around Mendocino County was perfectly crafted.
"My favorite piece of propaganda floating around these parts for the last few months," one Mendocino County resident told blogger Andrew Sullivan, "was that Phillip Morris was buying up giant tracts of land in Mendocino County in advance of Prop. 19 passing. The company would then, the theory goes, put every grower out of business. I found it amazing how many people fell for that stinker."
Now that California voters have rejected the initiative, which would have legalized and regulated marijuana for personal use, many supporters of Prop. 19 are blaming pot growers for helping kill the measure. Some wonder how these counties could have voted against their own self interest, turning away from potentially huge profits by creating a "Napa County of marijuana."
Indeed, the biggest marijuana-producing counties, Humboldt and Mendocino, voted with the rest of the state – roughly 47 percent in support and about 53 percent opposed. Pot-rich Trinity County voted against the measure by an even larger margin, about 40 percent to 60 percent. Only 11 counties – including San Francisco and Alameda – voted to approve the initiative.
Prop. 19 undoubtedly failed because some of the state's largest counties voted against it, not sparsely populated areas in Northern California. But that's not stopping supporters of the initiative from lashing out at pot producers in the so-called Golden Triangle. Here's one comment that has been getting attention:
Lets grab machetes and head up to Humboldt… Humboldt, your little community just pissed off a ton of people who are sick of paying your inflated crop prices!
Another wrote on the same blog, redheaded blackbelt:
It seems to me the 'growers' in Humboldt that I know all think that because they grow they are special and should be treated as royalty where ever they go. They expect everyone to cow down to them and just give them what ever they want. They think they are above the law and that the laws that the rest of us live by do not pertain to them. This is why I have a bad attitude tword them. They use the welfare system like a government subsidy for food and health care and don’t pay a dime into that system that they are sucking dry.
Bret Bogue, owner of Apothecary Genetics, a marijuana breeding and seed company, told Huffington Post blogger Steve Bloom that passage of Prop. 19 would have destroyed the economy of the area, and he blamed initiative supporters for failing to consult growers in Northern California.
"They needed to include the backbone," Bogue told Bloom, publisher of Celebstoner.com. "They voted 'no' because they didn't take the people into consideration. It starts from the ground up. You have to be able to walk in their shoes."
The arguments against Prop. 19 centered in part around the layers of regulatory oversight imposed by the initiative. Some worried about a provision restricting growing to a 25-square-foot plot of land, even though the initiative allowed for larger cultivation amounts approved by local authorities. The exact taxes and fees were uncertain and woukd have varied county by county.
"They're country people," Bogue told Bloom about growers. "They don't know how to pay taxes."
Many felt that asking pot growers to vote for Prop. 19 was like asking bootleggers to overturn Prohibition: Why would they give up such enormous, tax-free profits? But others might easily point out that any smart marijuana bootlegger was in a good position to start the next Budweiser of pot.
That Andrew Sullivan reader believed it was possible, writing that "if it were legalized, we would be rolling it greenbacks. We would happily accept our fate as the Napa Valley of Marijuana. But as long as it’s illegal, this will continue to be the Wild West." He said about the economic fallout from illegal pot busts:
Ask a county sheriff to drive you down a main street in one of our towns and he or she will point out all the 'retailers' who launder their pot money through their sham businesses. He’ll show you them right after he tells you how he had to lay off officers due to the dwindling cash problem up here. ... The irony that our county, of all counties, voted this measure down is just too rich.