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Keep in mind that the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Redheaded Blackbelt and that we have not checked the letters for accuracy.
To whom it May concern,
I was born around the time Mendocino County was focused on the booming timber industry. I saw this county in its glory days when Branscomb was a real town with its own ball fields. When my little hometown of Laytonville had enough entrants to support their own sporting leagues without having to search for every last working youngster to field their teams. When our schools were filled with enough students to support the small class sizes and unique opportunities that allowed our youth to thrive. The people were happy. The number of violent crimes was low.
The community we live in today looks different. Our crime rates are increasing. Our school enrollments are on the decline. In the past, illegal cannabis money has helped support these communities and really give them the extra boost they needed economically. What we couldn’t realize, however, was that it was the local timber industry that really held everything together. The wood industry provided jobs. It was our middle class. It was a way for our non-cannabis community members to make a decent living. When our local timber industry collapsed, we saw the impact on our population and felt the waves. Our schools, police stations and hospitals suffered enormous losses. It was a snowball effect that worsened every aspect of our communities. Sure, the black market saved many people and our local economy held its own as we saw new high-end businesses come into town supported by a select few. What we no longer had, however, was a functioning middle class or the population base to support our critical infrastructure.
I hear a lot of arguments for and against the expansion of cannabis in phase 3, but I think we don’t hear enough about what’s best for people. I believe that with the current proposal that we have presented to you, we will see the greatest improvement for our local communities that we have seen in decades. The cannabis expansion will give way to the return of the middle class. We will have the opportunity to create jobs for people who might otherwise work for a minimum wage and are struggling for their survival and their families. People no longer have to make the difficult decision to continue living minimally or to move to another location to raise their families. People will have the opportunity to work as trimmers, farm workers, laboratory technicians and agricultural specialists. They will be able to earn a living, receive benefits, and make Mendocino County their home forever. Cannabis has the ability to do what the logging industry did for our communities by bringing the middle class back.
I hear people say that cannabis is part of our heritage and commercialization within Mendocino County would ruin what we were built on. But I disagree. Large-scale cannabis expansion would bring us back to our legacy. Our legacy isn’t just about our little cannabis operations. Our heritage is our people. Our heritage is our sense of community. It is our children who play in our parks. Our schools have enough students to have the funds necessary to support the special programs that once made them unique. It feels safe because our crime rates are low as we have the resources for everyone to make a living. It is known that your local departments are quick to respond when you need help as we can fund it. Our legacy depends on the middle class and without a scaled cannabis expansion we have no industry to support it.
Today I ask you to reflect on what is really best for the people of this county. Think not only of some cannabis operators, but also of the future of our county. Think about the things that made us fall in love with this area. Think about what we could become again. Think of our true heritage.
With best regards,
Malila Gordon, Mendocino County resident and member of the cannabis community