Thursday, June 5, 2014
Cannabis and the Butte County Primary of 2014
What's the view from Butte County on the election results from the primary? Nothing all that Earth shattering. The Chico ER was surprised that Andrew Merkel got as many votes as he did running against Larry Wahl for County Supervisor. Merkel is a marijuana advocate hothead who has scads of money from Butte County's richest industrial lobby: cannabis. Frankly, I was surprised that Merkel didn't do better than he did. Merkel has a popular pet issue (pot) and lots of money. Wahl, who most Progressives hate, ran a low budget campaign. Wahl was the single vote for Fracking when the Butte County Supervisors surprised us by endorsing a Fracking ban in Butte County.
What else? Candace Grubbs, who has been the County Recorder for years and who refused to marry gay couples at the County Courthouse, faced a challenge from a popular County Supervisor's wife. Grubbs has been vocal in criticizing the lax Cannabis growing rules. Grubbs easily won re-election.
Jerry Brown took 44 percent of the vote in Butte County (compared to 54 percent state wide). To the Left of Jerry Brown, the Greens did poorly as did Cindy Sheehan of the Peace and Freedom Party. I couldn't get myself to vote for Brown because he is in bed with the oil companies on Fracking. I voted for the Green Party candidate---something I swore I wouldn't do after the Nader fiasco of 2000.
And Doug LaMalfa eeked out 50 percent of the vote for his House Seat. He will face Heidi Hall who anemically managed to garner 33 percent of the vote in Butte County. Those lazy ass Dems in Butte County better start working a bit harder if they are to have any hope of voting out one of the worst members of the House of Representatives. Turnout was low amongst Democrats. Overall, the turnout was only 28 percent of eligible voters.
In Lake County, a ballot measure that would eliminate most outdoor grows of Marijuana won handily. Lake County, like many rural California counties, has been bombarded with Cannabis grows. Locals are sick of the environmental damage and the increase in crime that results from this lucrative, semi-legal industry. And since Lake County doesn't have an urban population of Liberal College Professors and students, the hard working people who face the biggest impact from the Substance Abuse culture that mars many rural areas, cried out for change. And for tight regulations.
Will we see something similar here in Butte County when two pot measures are on the ballot this Fall---one measure written by the Cannabis Lobby and another by the Supervisors who represent the rural residents most impacted by the Green Rush? As the rest of the country rushes headlong into legalization, it is immensely interesting that Cannabis producing counties in California are moving towards much tighter regulations. Humboldt, Lake, Shasta, Tehama, Fresno, Sacramento and Butte Counties are all attempting to tighten regulations on this "herb". Rural residents know the high price that is paid in order to provide the weed to fuzzy urban potheads.
The last time we saw marijuana (and all other drugs) legal in the United States, it was the Progressives who called for regulating the hallowed substances. All those restrictive drug laws that arose in the early 1900's were proposed by the Left side of the aisle. And why did they do that? Because of the immense damage to public health legalization of drugs did to large numbers of people. Much of the population spent their life being gorked on cough syrup made of cocaine, opiates and cannabis. Leftists who get all caught up in Libertarian attitudes towards cannabis and other drugs, aren't very good students of history. They forget the reason why these drugs were regulated in the first place.
Cannabis Advocates like Andrew Merkel, with their hundreds of thousands of dollars and an army of stoned volunteers, might not have such an easy time of it in Butte County this Fall. They won two years ago with a ballot measure that was difficult to comprehend what you were voting for, or against. This time the lines will be better defined and we are beginning to understand the social and environmental costs of a massive Cannabis Economy. I think the Chico ER under-estimates the backlash against the Cannabis Industry. I think the vote will be very close this Fall.