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At 40 Years old, I’ve been using habitually for more than two decades now.  I’m one of the approximately 9% of cannabis users physically addicted to the substance and have seen its darker side as a largely unregulated intoxicant.    My life was put at risk given my participation in the industry, I’ve seen firsthand the criminality and wonton environmental destruction occurring in our hills, and my Central American Wife of nearly 20 years believes that cannabis is of the devil.  I view cannabis as God given and life giving and have made farming, helping farmers financially, creating cannabis awareness, and ensuring safe access for all people worldwide my professional pursuit.

I am an ardent supporter of medicinal cannabis for the seriously ill, be they adult, child, or infant.  While I would prefer that medicinal efforts for kids focus mainly on the non-psychoactive side of the equation, I strongly believe in emerging science showing the ability for high viral loads of THC and CBD oil to reverse certain types of cancer, so would also advocate for high THC loads for kids in life threatening and serious health situations.  As a father of 6 I empathize with parents facing the terrifyingly painful reality of a sick baby or child.  The thought that a child would be denied life saving and life giving medicine because of outdated statute, policy driven restrictions on cannabis R&D, someone’s own imposed morality, or misinterpreted social and economic externalities is both cruel and unacceptable.

I started using because it was fun – weed made me laugh and feel good and that was enough.  Humboldt Grown Cannabis is very powerful though and was disruptive for me in my early years.  For these reasons I strongly support legislation that restricts the use of recreational cannabis till the age of 19, a time when most individuals have completed secondary education and reached sexual maturity.  

In time and perhaps due to increased tolerance, improved access to medicine, or acquiring more personal maturity, my using became centered around emotional and spiritual connectedness, enhanced sensory experiences like sex, wellness issues like stress relief and harm reduction, and around health.  After being diagnosed with acute gastritis, dislocating both hips, and suffering from persistent tears to the Posterior Iliac and regular SI joint slip, cannabis also became a sleep aid and my preferred pain management tool.  Despite living with moderate to immense physical discomfort all the time, I remain alcohol and opiate free to this day and thank cannabis for that.  Because bottles kill people like me, the conscious choice is clearly cannabis. 

While I actively engage the children in conversations around my use, we have made it clear as parents that our kids will not indulge while under our roofs unless, God forbid, they fall seriously ill or are seriously injured.  Because we are a family that suffers from addiction and believe that addiction is genetic at some level, we have shared that recreational use of any intoxicant is dangerous for our kids.  This is not a conversation my parents had with me and I didn’t acquire a vocabulary for addiction until after a deferral program in my early 20’s.  I’ve told the kids it’s a crappy roll of the dice they got, I know, but that it’s our job to protect them and give them the straight skinny.  The oldest, now 16 and 18, have curiosity around drinking and using, but abstain to this day and are better for it.  Because cannabis alters the developing mind and the sexual function of males specifically, exploring in one’s later years seems healthful and prudent.

I retired from corporate financial advising in 2014 to caregive for my dying mom and came to fully appreciate cannabis as medicine as I watched her body get ravaged from radiation, chemotherapy and a failing immune system.  After her death I carried forth a private financial consulting platform to pay the bills, but decided that farming professionally and saving lives with cannabis would be my next pursuit.  I engaged a mentor and studied and farmed rigorously over the ensuing three years.  I transitioned to commercial operations two seasons ago and am now a practicing clean rusher fighting to solidify Humboldt County Small Family Farms’ place in the global cannabis supply chain.  If Canada can ship weed internationally and establish production facilities in Latin America, then on a local and state level we can assuredly grapple with issues of on-site consumption, cannabis tourism, cannabis for kids, less discriminatory land use ordinances, and formalizing the interstate marketplace that currently exists in robust and illicit form.

I am a member of the Humboldt County Cannabis Chamber of Commerce with a pro bono offering, NorCal Financial & Cannabis Consulting.  This educational platform is designed to help farmers better understand their industry’s increasingly competitive operating environment while helping implement farming and financial systems and strategies to improve profitability and prudently manage business and personal finances.  Small family farms play a critical in many localities and this has folks around town nervous.  As cannabis prices fall economic activity in the county will be negatively impacted.  Inefficient farms are going out of business, trimmers will be offered $100 or less per unit this season and many will lose work altogether as oil, rez, and derived product growth continues.  Brokers will get squeezed and fade away, while retailers and others providing services to these groups will be hit hard.  This is beginning to happen now and folks are noticing.  Unfortunately, we’re probably in the earlier innings of what promises to be a tremendously uncomfortable and disruptive adjustment. 

Remember that economic activity is primarily a function of two things, how much people have to spend and, importantly, how they feel about their future economic prospects.  What I’m seeing as a financial practitioner is this…even the very well heeled among us are playing it a bit safer…less aggression, less expansion, and less capital investment as record high asset prices tend to concern, not excite the financially educated.  Without another pony show, our county is in very deep trouble.  As former cannabis commentator John Hardin wrongly predicted, Arcata will not be o.k. without a thriving cannabis community…why the hell are they troubling with the MIZ then?  The University, to which he looked as an economic bellwether, is in embarrassingly bad shape and CR looks absolutely vacant compared to when I was there in the late 90’s.  The hospitals are on borrowed time and the county is burdened with unfunded liabilities, huge capital needs, and the very real possibility for economic collapse.  We need money and that will only come with responsible economic development and capital inflows.  While I am in favor of preserving natural space and protecting the environment, I’m also a capitalist and believe that ganja is the best thing the county has going for it.

Many believe that cannabis tourism, a topic we’ll discuss in the future, has the ability to draw in resources from Europe, Asia, and elsewhere to help replace the void created by lower weed prices.  With tourism, micro industries like cannabis cuisine will flourish and bring further vibrancy to areas like Old Town Eureka and others.  And the county needs to move fast as the Law of Diminishing Returns has found cannabis at last.  As we know from economics, in the absence of collusion, cronyism, or government controls, excess rents – or excess profits– get competed away in time.  It’s already happening as unregulated and wholesale cannabis prices converge and it will be happening in retail, oil, extracts, and derived products as competition prices those excess margins away.

This is why Humboldt and many other localities are nervous…rents are going away and it hurts, a lot.  Luxury goods and service providers feel it first, followed by everyone else as the engine slows.  Without rejuvenation, revitalization and a fresh influx of capital, energy and investment, pot farming and our very community will no longer be as economically viable.

Thru policy action, advocacy, research and the spread of credible cannabis information, it is my hope that a barrier free global cannabis marketplace that ensures safe access to all people comes to fruition. 

Jesse Duncan

Sour Diesel Dep

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