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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cop: More Than Half Of Mendocino Jobs Stem From Marijuana

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 7:54 AM

click to enlarge Green everywhere
  • Green everywhere

A few years ago, we ran into trouble with Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman (who is the only man we've ever seen enjoying a music festival -- at Wavy Gravy's Hog Farm, no less -- with a pistol clipped to his belt).

Allman, who achieved fame -- and then infamy, with the United States Justice Department -- for charging growers to license their marijuana plants with zip-ties, was quoted in an SF Weekly story as saying that the only two industries in Mendocino County are "government and weed."

The sheriff denied saying ever saying such a thing. But evidently, the statement is a true fact -- according to another police officer, over half of Mendocino County's jobs stem from the "less-than-legal" cannabis industry.

That revelation comes courtesy of Rich Russell, who heads up the Mendocino Major Crimes Task Force, according to the Ukiah Daily Journal.

Russell says that "more than half" of the county's population -- 87,000 people, according to Census figures -- are growers, trimmers, transporters or somehow otherwise connected with the marijuana trade, either legally or illegally.

And knowing what we know of Mendocino in the fall, we'd say conservatively that the population swells to over 100,000 during harvest season.

All those people are growing a lot of weed -- the biggest bust of the year netted an eye-popping 6,400 pounds of pot, according to the Journal -- and all that weed isn't staying local. It's going to dispensaries -- who, according to Russell, are then shipping the weed east.

As per the Journal:

"More and more, what we're seeing is that people are moving here to grow, and they export it to their home state for more money," Russell said, describing what he sees as a swelling trend. "I've been here six years, and it's doubled every year I've been here."

Russell says a grower can get $5,000 for a pound on the East Coast -- and a shipment of 100 pounds is so common it has a name: a "box" -- as opposed to $1,200 to $2,000, tops, for a top-notch pound sold locally.

That means a pound of mid-grade bud is worth $800 or less. That depression in price trickles down -- as in there's less cash trickling down to trimmers, and to everyone else in the marijuana business chain.

It's a dichotomy that should be troubling for anyone with connections to Mendocino County, which has fantastic natural geography, beautiful beer in Boonville and Fort Bragg, as well as a bunch of semi-legal drug growers and dealers who are seeing more competition for less money. That doesn't sound good for anybody -- except, possibly, the police.

And the cops? They're busy, and they don't need to go far, says Russell -- his Task Force has so much to do, they don't even have to leave Ukiah.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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