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Yes, Another Pot Story

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I can hear you groaning. Yes, not only is it another local media story devoted to cannabis but it's virtually an entire issue on the subject.

I get it. You're tired of talking about it. We all are.

But whether you smoke shatter on the hour or have never touched a joint, you need to be a part of this conversation. After all, you live in Humboldt County. And if you live here, you know — or should know — that marijuana touches virtually every aspect of our lives. It accounts for a third of our economy by some estimates, bringing an influx of cash into restaurants and retail outlets, and donations to volunteer fire departments and after school programs. It also brings violence, accounting for a rather significant portion of our annual homicide tallies. It has changed our culture and the fabric of our communities, and it has imperiled the natural environment that so many of us cherish.

And the very nature of the industry — of how our community will interact with this plant for generations to come — is changing. Fast.

In this week's issue, we try to look at this evolving industry through various lenses. How has the green bubble and the promise of legalization impacted rural land prices in Humboldt County? How has the industry's growth over the last decade impacted our outlying communities? There's an entire mini-industry sprouting up around helping cannabis farmers go legitimate. How does that work? And, finally, what's being done about those roughly 7,500 farms that aren't taking any steps toward legality and regulation? These are just a few of the questions we set out to answer in this edition and, I would argue, the answers impact all of us, whether we put on a Trainwreck hoodie in the morning or a suit and tie.

And if none of this has convinced you to choke down those groans and learn a bit more about Humboldt County's leading economic sector, consider this: Can you imagine if the Detroit Free Press didn't write about auto manufacturing, the Kern Valley Sun without almonds or the Napa Valley Register without stories about wine? Laughable, right?

The only thing that makes marijuana different is decades of prohibition. But make no mistake, when we write about marijuana we're writing about our economy, culture and future, no matter how that makes you feel.

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor at the Journal. Reach him at 442-1400, extension 321, or thad@northcoastjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @thadeusgreenson.

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