As a diversified farmer seeking to participate in a regenerative form of agriculture, I must factor the economics of my operation on equal footings with the ecological and social impacts that I create; this is the triple bottom line.
In a perfect world, everyone would focus on the triple bottom line, but the simple fact of the matter is that many do not. In seeking to participate in a 21st century cannabis industry, it is of utmost importance that we craft models that foster sound environmental practice, and that we propose ways of ensuring that this happens.
We must use economics as the balance beam between people and planet, there is no other way. As a farmer, I support an excise tax on cannabis that would provide funding for environmental cleanup projects that are a result of unregulated agriculture. It is my opinion that the .33/gram that AB2243 proposes is a workable compromise. The goal of beneficial commerce is to create qualitative results; as a farmer, I am willing to do my part.
A couple of years ago, I participated in a cleanup of a trespass cannabis grow, led by armed Bureau of Land Management agents. We drove to the end of the road in a remote part of Mendocino County, and then hiked miles into the site, where thousands of pounds of trash, irrigation line and other refuse were located. We gathered loads of the stuff that were hauled out by a National Guard helicopter. The experience was profound, a public-private partnership that made an effort to address damage to a pristine wilderness area on public lands.
This experience changed my view of cannabis cultivation, removing the “us vs them” mentality and forcing me to admit that we had real problems within the multifaceted reality that is cannabis production. Without monies to support this type of effort, there are not the resources to deal with trespass grows and the damage that they do to the environment. An excise tax on cannabis production will help to deal with these issues.
I return again to the balance beam of economics, working to address the needs of both people and planet. The current system has not done so, which is why I support an excise tax. Rural governments are starved for budget to provide mental health care and many other services that are a necessity to the people who live in those areas. Cannabis cultivation has the potential to provide a certain measure of support to beleaguered localities, while encouraging good land-use practice and supporting the evolving conversation by showing conservative voters that good things can come from this magical plant.