It looks like an initiative is going to be on the Nov. 8 ballot, Proposition 64, which will make cannabis legal in California, under state law. Polls show it is likely to pass. Demand is likely to decrease, if its totally legal, as is believed to have happened with alcohol at the end of prohibition in 1933.
As various articles, and an excellent editorial, in the Times-Standard have discussed, some people claim that the cannabis growers of Humboldt County are bringing in around $1 billion a year. Im a little skeptical of that, but lets say its about right. Im thinking very little cannabis is going to be grown in Humboldt County after legalization. But probably enough for the local trade.
I can tell you from firsthand knowledge that weed grows very well in the oven-like, triple-digit heat in Sacramento. If it ever comes to pass that there are no restrictions to prevent ordinary farmers from growing the stuff, then one 500,000 acre farm in Californias Central Valley would probably be able to supply the entire country. It is hardly likely, in my opinion, that anti-drug, neo-prohibitionists could stop agribusiness from planting any highly profitable cash crop. All serious farming is done on what is commonly known as bottom land, and theres very little of it in Humboldt County. Californias Central Valley, on the other hand, is one very large piece of bottom land.
Cannabis grows a lot better, and becomes higher quality smoking herb, when grown in warm areas. Most of the THC, the main molecule that gives the beneficial effects, is in so-called hairs, on leaf outer cell layers. Those leaf hairs are there to shade the leaves, and the hairs tend to get much denser in sweltering heat.
So, again, Im guessing there probably isnt going to be any significant cannabis growing in Humboldt County for export after legalization. That means the $1 billion of income will stop, and the number of people with no money will drastically increase. There is no reason to think that the local drug industry will switch to some other illegal drug. Opium poppies do not grow well here, and meth is made from chemicals that do not come from here. The chemicals used to make meth can be shipped to other areas more easily than to Humboldt County. Like most things, drugs will come to Humboldt County, and Humboldt County money will flow out.
In addition to unemployed pot growers and processors, there will be a bunch of law enforcement people with no pot growers or dealers to arrest. No more tearing out plants. No more big busts. No more hash lab fires. No more trespass grows damaging the environment. Just a whole lot more Dumpster-diving bums, and cutthroats. On the positive side, if youre a police officer, that could provide a lot more work for law enforcement people. So the net effect may be that there will be more law enforcement jobs after pot is legalized. And our massive bum-industrial complex that passes out hand-ups to the needy might find itself working overtime.
Another thought: a neighbor reports that while visiting relatives in South Dakota, they noticed that there is ditch-weed growing along rural roads, which is actually weed, evidently descended from cannabis that was grown there before it was banned in the late 1930s. If it grows that well in South Dakota, which, by the way, has very hot summers, and also has over 50 million acres of farmland, then its a sure bet that, if pot later becomes legal nationwide, almost all of it will be grown there. Its also a sure bet that the packs of marijuana cigarettes in the grocery store, that come from South Dakota, will have brand names like Humboldt Skunk and Pure Humboldt. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.