Guest Editorial by Kyle Keegan:
In response to the continued scrutiny of our region’s industrial cannabis economy and its environmental/socioeconomic implications: What do* the Gold Rush, the Industrial Logging Boom, and the Industrial Cannabis Boom share in common?
All three are mono-economies that have dominated or, in the case of cannabis, currently dominate areas of our bioregion.*
All three arose and were created through disproportionate values being placed on a single commodity.
All three are vulnerable to distant, uncontrollable market forces.
All three placed (place) all those participating in direct competition with each other.
All three depended (depend) on a single commodity being exported out of our communities; separating the “producers” from the “consumers.”
All three attracted (attract) passing, unrooted speculators and profit seekers.
All three experienced (are experiencing) rapid, uncontrolled expansion.
All three, being mono-economies, are inherently vulnerable to centralization.
All three created a “mono-cultural mindset,” in which the dependent population can no longer envision a future without reliance on that particular single commodity.
All three left (are leaving) a legacy of environmental damage to future generations.
All three did not (will not) last indefinitely.
These similarities are being highlighted to emphasize the dangers of our continued reliance on a mono-economy to support our rural communities. This is a call to all those who feel rooted and connected to the land and people of the North Coast to invest our region’s current mono-cultural prosperity into creating a future of economic diversity and resilience.
As a co-author of the Northern California Farmer’s Guide “Best Management Practices,” I support the continued education of our region’s cannabis farmers, as well as supporting the proactive and community informed regulation of cannabis production to protect small-scale family farms and the environment in the event of a state-wide legalization.
However, I do not believe that hard-wiring our region to be overly dependent on an export commodity (no matter what it is) is a wise adaptive strategy amidst an era of declining global resources and climate change. Our current reliance on a mono-economy has been a distraction from our communities creating goods and services that can be circulated locally.
The cannabis economy can be best utilized as a transitional tool to help build and support essential community infrastructure, restore the land, and to facilitate our communities in creating diverse and lasting bioregional economies.
Previous guest pieces by Kyle Keegan:
- Restoring the Sponge on the North Coast —A Whole Systems Approach
- Restoring the Sponge on the North Coast —A History of Dehydration
- Restoring the Sponge on the North Coast: A Rehydration Revolution!
- Acorn: The Perennial Grain
- The Green Rush: Economic Boom—Ecological Bust
- Pacific Giant Salamander and the Foothill Yellow-legged Frog
- Boom and Bust —How Logging and Marijuana Damage the Watersheds
- Fishing for the Dead
- Should Humboldt Diversify Away From Cannabis?
* The word “does” as first printed was incorrect and changed to “do” at the request of the author. A point incorrectly not bulleted in an early version has been bulleted in this.