Back when medical marijuana first became a cause celebre around here, conservatives accused activists of a secret agenda to legalize weed entirely. I remember thinking, “Hmm, is it really that secret?” (And also, “How does that in any way invalidate the good reasons for authorizing medical marijuana?”)
The support for legalization got to be so widespread that its talking points became gospel. Taxation! Regulation! It seemed necessary at first, no doubt, as a means of changing minds. But it quickly became an assumption that many cannabis enthusiasts didn’t feel the need to look at more closely. If the goal of legalizing it was achieved, what could go wrong?
Last year, California became the fifth state to make cannabis legal, via an easy win for Prop. 64. And now that there aren’t enforcement issues to worry about (at the state level, at least), it seems like cannabis activists are willing to take a closer, more honest look at weed’s brave new world—and its potential pitfalls. The actual culture around cannabis is not something that people talked about much, if at all, in the run-up to last year’s vote. But now, people like wine industry icon Phil Coturri are starting to speak out about the dangers of cannabis becoming big business, as he does in this week’s cover story by Jonah Raskin. Will smaller growers be pushed out entirely? Will farming methods get even less sustainable? Will the quality and diversity of cannabis itself suffer?
As with the medical marijuana debate years ago, I don’t think anyone is saying these questions invalidate the reasons for legalizing cannabis. But Coturri makes a convincing argument that it’s time they were asked.
STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Letters to the Editor
Thank you for having not one, but two articles on climate change in the 8/23 issue of the Good Times. When it comes to extending cap-and-trade, I completely agree with Richard Nolthenius that we need a carbon tax, simply because it is the most powerful strategy we have to drastically reduce carbon emissions. Cap-and-trade is a good first step, but the real impact will be a carbon tax, preferably in a carbon fee and dividend form which has bipartisan support. Keep up the great reporting.
See You in 5717
Wow, that’s quite a man-crush letter writer Manu Koenig (GT, 8/30) has for local ocean pundit Gary Griggs. I would not hold my breath about a monument, Manu—this being Santa Cruz, someone will find it offensive for whatever reason and tear it down. (Maybe Gary didn’t return a library book 30 years ago, that’s about how it’s getting).
Anyhow, do you recall the mastodon skeleton which was found in an Aptos creek outcropping some years ago? The one from that last ice age, about 10,000 years ago? Well, I attended an excellent talk by a now-retired UCSC Astrophysicist Emeritus—I won’t name him without permission—who assured the audience that despite any various and sundry temperature jigs and jags along the way, the next Ice Age is indeed on its way, right on schedule, to arrive in about 3,700 years. What to believe. Well, don’t take his word for it; let’s agree to meet here 3,700 years from now and see for ourselves.
Affordability Affects Everyone
I want to thank Mayor Chase and the Santa Cruz City Council for undertaking the very real challenge of addressing the “escalating problem of housing unaffordability and scarcity” in the city of Santa Cruz. Lack of affordable housing here is a problem that affects everyone, even the homeowners who are blessed enough to be able to own property in the city or who were lucky enough to buy property when it was cheaper. Skyrocketing rental prices mean that soon the only people who will be able to live here are tech workers who commute over the hill. In the meantime, nurses, teachers, sanitation workers, and service workers will have to commute in from cheaper towns. Our traffic situation is bad enough without inviting more commuting.
Besides the increased traffic that is inevitable when the average worker can’t afford to live here, there are other societal ills that come with such a high cost of living. Our town depends on low to middle-wage earners. No one wants to end up in the emergency room with a nurse who is slightly under-qualified, but the only candidate for the job who was willing to put up with a long commute. Similarly, having to call a police officer is bad enough, but no one wants the officer who shows up to have been up all night working a second job to help pay the rent. Unfortunately, these are likely scenarios. As a teacher, I know that Santa Cruz City Schools hesitates to consider candidates who have to relocate, and more than once candidates have accepted teaching jobs only to later rescind their acceptance because they can’t find housing. If we want qualified professionals working in the important positions we rely on, we need to come together and address the problem of high housing costs.