Marijuana Adds $1.5 Billion To County Economy

  Marijuana Adds $1.5 Billion To County Economy

Posted by CN Staff on November 25, 2005 at 20:15:26 PT
By Mike ADair, Special For The Willits News 
Source: Willits News 

California -- In Mendocino County, the marijuana industry this year will contribute roughly $1.5 billion to the countys economy. Thats an estimated two-thirds of the countys legal economy, which in 2003 was about $2.3 billion. Although marijuana is thought to be a huge part of the local economy, it is impossible to know how big it is exactly. The crop is illegal; there are no crop reports, and production and sales records are not collected and authenticated by the county.
For that reason most of the people contacted by this writer were unwilling or unable to speculate on the dollar size of it. Agriculture Commissioner Dave Bengston, Economic Development and Finance Corporation Director Madeline Holtkamp and Bank of Willits President Richard Willoughby were not able to even hazard a guess.Sheriffs Office Sergeant Rusty Noe, commander of the County of Mendocino Marijuana Eradication Team (COMMET), also declined to give an opinion. That would be impossible to answer, said Noe. Between the illegal growing, both outdoor and indoor, and the medical marijuana, both outdoor and indoor, it would be impossible to estimate.Third District Supervisor Hal Wagenet, however, indicated a rough estimate could be made by making a few simple, back-of-the-envelope calculations. Wagenet arrived at a working number based on the number of plants seized by COMMET, which, according to Noe, is 144,000 marijuana plants for 2005. (Last year, he said, police seized about 92,000 plants. Plant seizures this year are up 56.5 percent over the 2004 figure.)In calculating the size of the countys marijuana industry, The Willits News used Wagenets formula. However some of the figures were revised and our assumptions differed slightly from Wagenets.According to District Attorney Norman Vroman, COMMET normally seizes between five and eight percent of the total crop grown in the county. We used that number instead of Wagenets 10 percent. We also thought it reasonable to include a spoilage figure of 20 percent, since nothing in agriculture is perfect.The only unknown in this equation is plant yield. Traditionally, Mendocino County law enforcement has estimated plant production at one pound of pot per plant. But according to grower Dionysius Greenbud--not his real name--the average dope plant yields about half a pound of grass. Greenbud cautioned, however, that number too is a rough estimate. I think an estimate of a pound per plant is high, he said. I usually get around a quarter pound a plant. But I was talking to a friend of mine who told me that he has these huge monster plants that give him about eight pounds a plant. So maybe a half a pound a plant is a little light.Former Third District Supervisor John Pinches agreed that an estimate of a pound of marketable marijuana per pot plant may be a little high. We decided to use the half a pound per plant figure, while admitting that our numbers are rough. The last element in the equation is the dollar value of the marijuana. According to Greenbud, the wholesale price of marijuana has been plummeting in recent years.In 1995, the wholesale price was $5000 a pound, Greenbud said. By 1999, it was $3500 a pound. Last year, in Willits it was down to $2500 a pound. The signs are showing that it is going to be less this year. It is looking like it might be $2200 a pound.Assuming a COMMET seizure rate of 8 percent, 1.8 million marijuana plants were grown in this county this year. Twenty percent were lost to spoilage, and eight percent were grabbed by law enforcement. That leaves 1,324,800 pot plants which produced an average of half a pound of pot per plant, yielding 662,400 pounds of cannibis. Assuming a wholesale price of $2200 per pound, this years harvest should yield a profit of $1.5 billion. A higher estimate would be reasonable if one assumes that some of crop is sold for a higher retail price, or if one assumes a higher yield than half a pound per plant, or both.By comparison, in 2004, raw timber brought an income of $66.6 million to timber producers and wine grapes brought in $60.1 million to grape growers. Marijuana, therefore, is at least 12 times larger than wine grapes and timber together.Richard Willoughby said that he did not know to what extent the marijuana economy penetrated the legal economy. He said growers were wary of depositing their money in local banks, because federal law requires banks file cash transaction reports for every deposit over $10,000. He also said that, based on the financial records of the three Willits banks (Bank of Willits, North Valley Bank and Washington Mutual) there was only about $125 million on deposit between the three institutionsIf you assume a marijuana economy of billions of dollars a year, to have $125 million on deposit isnt very much, he said. Complete Title: Cash Crop: Marijuana Adds $1.5 Billion To County EconomySource: Willits News (CA)Author: Mike ADair, Special For The Willits NewsPublished: Friday, November 25, 2005 Copyright: 2005 The Willits News Contact: editorial willitsnews.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:The Miron Report for a Marijuana Sales Tax High Cost of Prohibition 

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Comment #20 posted by FoM on November 28, 2005 at 13:16:57 PT
Press Release from MPP
 Marijuana Farms in National Parks: Congressional Hearings Duck the Real Issue***Leading Anti-Marijuana Crusader Comes to San Francisco TodayNovember 28, 2005 SAN FRANCISCO — Today's hearing by the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources into issues affecting California's national parks is unlikely to offer a real solution to the problem of clandestine marijuana farms in parks and wilderness areas, officials of the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) said today. The subcommittee is chaired by U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN), a conservative Republican with a reputation as one of the most vocal anti-marijuana crusaders in Congress.MPP Director of Communications Bruce Mirken, who is based in San Francisco, plans to attend the hearing, scheduled for 3 p.m. today in the Hawthorne Room of the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio, and will be available for interviews."As a Californian who spent part of this summer hiking in two of our national parks, I want our parks protected," Mirken said. "But stepped-up efforts at 'marijuana eradication' -- the only solution offered so far at Congressman Souder's series of hearings -- are guaranteed to make the problem worse, not better. After all, why do we never hear of clandestine vineyards hidden in national parks? Because winemakers are licensed and regulated. The only way we will eliminate these clandestine marijuana farms is to tax and regulate marijuana, bringing the marijuana business into the open and putting it under responsible controls."Mirken noted that the U.S. Justice Department's own data, contained in its National Drug Threat Assessment 2005, confirm the futility of marijuana "eradication," identifying "no reports of a trend toward decreased availability" of marijuana anywhere in the country, despite the "eradication" of 3.5 million plants last year. A 2003 Florida State University analysis concluded, "A long history of drug enforcement efforts suggest that elimination of supplies coming from one area will soon lead to increased cultivation elsewhere.""Congressman Souder won't bring up the issue of marijuana regulation, because he's on an ideological crusade, not a quest for real solutions," Mirken added. "But the simple truth is our present policies not only don't work, they are making the problem worse."With more than 18,000 members and 100,000 e-mail subscribers nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. MPP believes that the best way to minimize the harm associated with marijuana is to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. For more information, please visit:
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Comment #19 posted by runruff on November 28, 2005 at 12:23:24 PT:
Hey Jim!
You little whippersnapper, I was just starting high school in 1960. I remember most of the fifties like when Elvis came out. Pesident Ike, the hoola hoop and big cars with fins. Ha!PEACE.
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Comment #18 posted by Jim Lunsford on November 27, 2005 at 17:44:48 PT
Duh? Did I mention I was stoned?
I meant this was a story I heard while I was growing up as a child. I wasn't born until 1960!Rev Jim LunsfordFirst Cannabist ChurchWrong: Something everyone else does
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Comment #17 posted by Jim Lunsford on November 27, 2005 at 17:41:24 PT
Related to Nevada Anyway
Saw an episode of Cops last night. I hope the ACLU has a special team out to watch that show. Tazering people 15-20 times and throwing out attack dogs on them. That wasn't Nevada, but hey! I'm stoned. The one on Nevada had these two college dudes out to steal a pink flamingo from the Pink Flamingo hotel. They had a joint on them, and it was kind of funny. The crowd pretty much booed the cops the whole time. Guess there is a changing attitude about our whole system.Let me tell you a related story from when I was a child growing up in South Georgia. We had mean cops back then too. Though, pretty much everyone was mean and tough. Just the way it was. There is always a code of conduct expected from any culture, and this was a dirt poor, hard working type of culture. Had some hard rules to live by.There was this old town drunk just passed out on the sidewalk one morning. Not an unusual sight back then. This was the late 1920's. This mean old cop saw him and started beating him. My granddad saw him and walked up to him with a switchblade knife and just held it to his back and said, "I think he's had enough, don't you?" The cop seemed ammendable, and left. My granddad helped the man up and fixed him up a bit. Nothing else ever came up about the subject. These were tough people, and they still exist. Maybe not in the way they conduct theirselves. But in their refusal to put up with the foolishness of this judicial nightmare. Personally, I think most of the police are as well.Oh yeah, maybe if we quit this hurry up attitude, we wouldn't need to drive so fast. Then, maybe the cops could be there to make sure you got home safely. Maybe drive your car home for you. Don't think it hasn't happened before.Peace to all,Rev Jim LunsfordFirst Cannabist ChurchBalls: An Ovary's slave. :)
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Comment #16 posted by Taylor121 on November 27, 2005 at 16:36:00 PT
So Nevada doesn't have zero tolerance...
which is good news. Although I think this probably may be too loose of a standard from what I've read, it is MUCH better than zero tolerance since it at least makes an attempt to id impaired drivers instead of simple users.
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Comment #15 posted by Taylor121 on November 27, 2005 at 16:34:01 PT
Driving Impaired in Nevada
Nevada has a per se drugged driving law (Per se laws prohibit drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have greater than a set level of a drug or drug metabolite present in their system.) enacted for cannabis, cannabis metabolites, and other controlled substances. Under Nevada's law, motorists with detectable levels of THC in the blood above 2 ng/ml or detectable 
levels of THC-COOH in the urine above 15 ng/ml are guilty of DUID. (Nevada State Code, Section 484.379) would generally be measured by a pupil dialation test/ walking the line type of thing, and standard questions. If you were suspected of being intoxicated, the cop could go further and draw blood to test for drug impairment. If you think about it, it isn't as if anything has really changed. People are already smoking marijuana in Nevada and driving intoxicated.
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Comment #14 posted by FoM on November 27, 2005 at 06:57:23 PT
AlvinCool and charmed quark 
Impairment is a real problem with so many high speed cars on the road. We aren't commuting with a horse and buggy. We have senior citizens that really shouldn't be behind a wheel but we don't arrest them and throw them in jail. It is about money. We pay insurance to help us if an accident happens but insurance companies don't like paying claims so the more clauses and rules that are in place makes it easier for an insurance company.AlvinCool I wish you much happiness with your new life and marriage. Long may you both run.
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Comment #13 posted by charmed quark on November 27, 2005 at 06:29:01 PT
FOM - Impairment Testing
FOM - this is a soapbox of mine. I don't think people really care about impairment and safe driving. Instead, society just seems interested in punishing people for violating norms, and the driving laws are an easy way to do this. There have been computer-based impairment tests around for a while. Some airlines have pilots use them before a flight. They could easily be used for roadside impairment testing. I haven't seen any interest in this.Right now, it is very difficult to charge someone with impaired driving if they are impaired by lack of sleep or antihistamines. Basically, only alcohol and other recreational drug use will get you charged. Even in an accident.To my way of thinking, HOW you got impaired doesn't really matter as much as whether you are impaired. I would love cops to pull over impaired people. Only after they've been taken off the road does it matter WHY they were impaired. A social worker or judge should resolve the issue to see if there is a problem. Sure, if you have been pulled over more than once for drunk driving you should have you license taken away and probably be required to show you've been to an "abuse school" before you get your license back. But I'd say the same for someone who has been pulled over more than once for driving under the influence of antihistamines. Or lack of sleep, etc. Of course, there is no easy drug test for lack of sleep, but it could be figured out by asking questions.As to marijuana, some studies HAVE shown impairment. But only at very high blood levels, probably higher than the average recreational user would want. It's really pretty low on the list of impairment factors.
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Comment #12 posted by AlvinCool on November 27, 2005 at 05:51:44 PT
Imparment Tests
Hey that's an easy one FoM. Because people smoking pass those roadside impairment tests with flying colors (if they have not also been drinking). I mean what is it going to suggest if they have to divulge that people that use alcohol can't pass and those that smoke can?Hence they just ignore the impairment tests and never talk about them when talking about cannabis.Hey I got married to the coolest Shaman and I'm as happy as a man can be. I also quit smoking, but that's a personal decision and nothing to do with my support of legalization. Just thought I'd pass that along 
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Comment #11 posted by Jim Lunsford on November 27, 2005 at 03:51:08 PT
Interesting Link
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on November 26, 2005 at 16:48:50 PT
If there has to be a test then why couldn't it be a test of actual impairment? If road safety is the issue then people that can't pass a test by performing some tasks like walking a straight line or answering questions without difficulty should be enough to help keep the roads safe from impaired drivers. Many legal prescription drugs can make a person impaired when using machinery or operating a vehicle. A person that is overly tired is a risk on the road not just people who smoke a little marijuana, I believe.
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Comment #9 posted by Dankhank on November 26, 2005 at 16:37:52 PT
GFR ...
Like Grand Funk ...have seen them a coupla times ... long ago ...Will look for them ...thanks ..
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Comment #8 posted by b4daylight on November 26, 2005 at 15:34:14 PT
 How will they determine if someone is driving under the influence? 
 M Finally some standards will need to be set. For to long they have been using an outdated system of trace amounts. They still stand by if you smoked a joint two weeks ago your under the influence. My thoughts are much like a diabites test which tests your blood. They then can set some standards that mean something. And yes FOM they are already are determining in many states that already have zero tolerances. Of course just recently it got thrown out of court so yes they will need something no matter what this proposal does. we might get this right brown labels, no advertising, truth, and normalizing it. "Does this committee, this Legislature want to send a message to our youth that using a drug is a good thing?" asked Perkins in speaking out against legal marijuana.So they let Alcohol and Tabbacoo advertise to everyone, and let them use supermodels and cartoon charactors. 
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Comment #7 posted by Richard Zuckerman on November 26, 2005 at 10:14:29 PT:
The thesis of would seem to hold up. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Charles Rangel and Congressman Anthony Weiner, will appear at Crain's Business Breakfast Forum "Congressional Outlook For 2006," on Monday, December 5, 2005, at the Sheraton New York, 811 Seventh Avenue, between 52nd and 53 Streets, from 8 A.M. thru 9:30 A.M., at a cost of $500 for ten people table, $50 for one person, if prepaid by December 1, 2005,, click on "Events," (information telephone number)(212) 210-0739. I would not expect these Congress members to support legalization of Marijuana, considering the business climate in New York City supports Corporations and this is where President George W. Bush's Grandfather and Greatgrandfather, along with Rockefeller, financed Adolph Hitler. See: A sanitized Web article on Project Paperclip appears on [scroll down the Web page and click on where they mention his daily news postings], from BBC News.A newspaper article in the Daily News [New York City] from the other day states that the homeless organizations in Queens, New York City, do not have enough food to feed the growing number of homeless people. Scary. I would recommend everybody attend a concert of Grand Funk Railroad. Last month, I attended a Grand Funk Railroad concert, in Englewood, N.J., worth the time and money.Check out the November 24, 2005, article claiming a Corporate attorney named Paul Young was attacked by two suits during his patent appeal against Coca-Cola in which he claims to have evidence that 5 U.S. Supreme Court justices were bribed in the Bush v. Gore decision in 2000,,!! I got on AirAmerica Radio, 1190 A.M., yesterday, with Thom Hartmann, but he interrupted me, stated his familiarity with the content of the article, and expressed doubt as to the truth of the article, stated the U.S. Supreme Court are ALREADY working for Coca-Cola.Richard Paul Zuckerman, Post Office Box 159, Metchen, New Jersey, 08840-0159, richardzuckerman2002
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on November 26, 2005 at 07:40:46 PT
I wonder if that system tests for honest intoxication levels.
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Comment #5 posted by billos on November 26, 2005 at 07:08:56 PT
A school bus driver this past summer in CT was convicted of supplying tobacco and alcohol to the kids she drove around on the bus. The court fined her $250 and 3 months probation. You know damn well if it was a joint and not a drink she probably would have gotten 5 years if not more. 
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on November 26, 2005 at 06:43:57 PT
Another Question About Nevada Initiative
Excerpt: Under the latest proposal, the state Department of Taxation would set up a system to issue licenses for marijuana farms and for certain retailers to sell pot.
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Comment #3 posted by Toker00 on November 26, 2005 at 05:10:50 PT
I was wonderin'
Anyone know what the penalty is for selling or giving ALCOHOL to a minor? Before someone posts the answer, and if I were a betting man, I would bet there's not a state in the U.S. where the penalty is greater than for cannabis. Cannabis does little or no damage to your child, where as alcohol, well, YOU KNOW! The logic of Cannabis Prohibition is...THERE IS NONE! We have to start attacking these lawmakers with e-mails, phone calls, letters, and any other way! Not only do we have to change the stupid laws that exist, we have to stop the ones they are still cranking out!Wage peace on war. END CANNABIS PROHIBITION NOW! 
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on November 25, 2005 at 21:14:32 PT

News Article on Nevada Initiative
I'm posting the link so everyone can check it out if you want. Here are my questions about this Initiative. How will they determine if someone is driving under the influence? What about the provision for minors?Excerpt: He pointed to provisions that would double penalties for selling or giving the drug to minors and for driving under the influence of marijuana or alcohol.Under their proposal, for example, an adult who sells or gives marijuana to someone under age 18 would be subject to a one- to eight-year term in prison and a $10,000 fine. Under current Nevada law, possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is a misdemeanor subject to a $600 penalty.
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