Matthew Owen / @ 11:56 a.m. / In the Middle

MATTHEW IN THE MIDDLE: Pay Your Fair Share, Weed Man! — Plus: Matt Lands on His Ass!


It’s not “if”, but “when” we have the feds allowing each state to decide on legalization of marijuana with no federal intervention or prosecution.

Until this scenario happens, our local marijuana growers will continue to lobby for “slow walking” or what we call status quo. Talk, talk, talk, have meetings after meetings - but never do anything policy wise. Keep the marijuana prices (and profits) artificially high.

Chicago somehow survived the 21st Amendment (repeal of the Volstead Act, AKA: Prohibition) and Humboldt County will survive the federal legalization of marijuana.

Most legitimate self-employed small business owners I know spend anywhere from 10%-20% of their time doing paperwork such as accounting, government regulatory filings, tax planning, business licenses, property and equipment insurances, workers comp, retirement planning, health insurance, etc.  Once their business grows to a certain size they have to hire a person or staff to handle all of these back office filings. It’s not the glamorous side of any business, but it is required. Unless you’re a grower and you just ignore all of the above. I don’t consider burying stacks of cash in plastic containers in your backyard “retirement planning”. 

Growers have no concept of the alphabet soup of government inspectors in any business. We have numerous local brewers and vintners here in Humboldt County who can all attest to the various government agencies that routinely review their businesses for the proper paperwork, government inspections, quality controls and occasional accounting audits.

When marijuana legalization comes to Humboldt County, growers can expect regular visits from ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms), FDA (Food & Drug Administration), State Comp Insurance Fund, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, County Environmental Health Department, County Building inspectors, local Fire Marshall, their insurance carrier, audits from IRS and Franchise Tax Board and along with the usual on-site inspections from their retail buyers.

The biggest fear from growers going legitimate is taxes, such as federal, state, local, Social Security, Medicare and Workers Comp. And if I have to hear one more time the straw man lame excuse of, “We pay sales tax.” Yeah, so does every other working person with a legitimate job who contributes payroll taxes. So I have one question - can I have my 35% back that the government takes off the top of my check?

Jennifer Budwig, Redwood Capital Bank VP wrote her thesis on the financial impacts of marijuana in our local economy and estimated marijuana is a billion dollar annual untaxed Humboldt industry. 

I’ll make you a deal. You go pass the hat in the SoHum hills and grow houses of McKinleyville, Arcata and Eureka and collect $200 million (per year) in federal, state, local, Social Security, Medicare and workers comp taxes and we’ll call it even. We’ll forward these taxes on to the federal government to help pay for your father’s monthly Social Security check and your mother’s new hip replacement via Medicare. We’ll forward some to the State of California so we can pay for teachers’ salaries and the freeways we all drive on.  We’ll pass it on to the County of Humboldt and our local cities so we can have law enforcement and fire protection when we call 9-1-1, clean water, working sewers and paved streets.

Ever wonder why our politicians made our currency green?

So they can spend it before it has time to ripen.

Wait until Sacramento figures out they can collect $100 million a year in sin taxes, much like on cigarettes, beer and spirits, on cannabis.  For each ounce of cannabis sold they collect “X” dollars in excise or sin tax. Doesn’t sound like much until you figure out how many thousands of tons of cannabis are being sold every year from California.

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Notes: The “80% of murders committed in Humboldt County are marijuana related” was a quote from District Attorney Paul Gallegos confirmed with two high ranking Sheriffs. This includes not only pot for cash rip-offs, but home invasion robberies for pot/cashkilling of the crop employees who actually want to get paid, and bodies located/missing in the South Humboldt Hills.

Freddie Mitchell, former UCLA All-American wide receiver and Philadelphia Eagles’ first round draft pick was just sentenced to 37 months for tax evasion.

To those who miss the days of Heraldo spreading vicious lies based of rumor and innuendo and being able to comment anonymously on the Humboldt Herald blog, fear not. Although Heraldo moved out of the area, the LoCO comments section has taken over as crazy central. Many have asked why I do not respond to their anonymous comments. Quite simply, I never will. Anonymous comments have as much credence as used toilet paper.

To paraphrase Mark Twain’s famous line, “It is far better to be thought an anonymous fool, than to use your real name on a blog post and remove all doubt.”

Finally, Congressman Jared Huffman was in town and had a meet and greet fundraiser this past Saturday night at the Eureka Women’s Club. During the middle of Huffman’s speech my boot slipped on something slick. Like some surreal moment out of a Kurosawa film, I watched my foot go above my head in slow motion. Oh-oh. Next thing I knew my butt hit the ground hard. It was no longer “Matthew in the Middle,” but “Matthew on the Floor.” My apologies, Congressman. Trust me, my ego was shattered falling in a room of 200 people. But if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

By the way, Congressman Huffman is doing an outstanding job representing the North Coast in the House of Representatives. Besides being a good guy, it’s refreshing to see our state and national elected officials spend some time north of Santa Rosa.


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