Is cannabis a Hail Mary for San Mateo County’s agriculture? – San Mateo Daily Journal

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Rudy Espinoza Murray


The nation is professionalgressing on The drawback of marijuana Regardmuch less of The very Incontrovertible actuality that it stays ilauthorized On the federal diploma. Based mostly on Pew Evaluation, in a ballot carried out this yr, 91% Of usa residents assume it Ought to be authorized for both leisure and medical use. In San Mateo County, rising hashish has solely been authorized since 2017, and it retains broad assist throughout voters. Cannabis professionalduction should happen solely on lands designated for agriculture. Although many cities have a marijuana enterprise tax, the county decided To not add marijuana tax On the request of farmers So as that It’d maintain prices decrease for the enterprise. However Like all problem, tright here are two sides. 

Inside the Latinx immigrant group, the consumption of marijuana Is usually frowned upon, And youthfulsters that use It Might be labeled marijuano — a time period that connotes laziness, with out course, and even felony. So For A lot of farmworkers, The thought of rising hashish is drawbackatic. Some choosing to earn much less earlier than having To inform their youthfulsters thOn they professionalduce “weed.” Over the hill, consuming hashish Is not anyrmalized and seeing a white techie smoke Is not any huge deal. However for Black and completely different minority youth, it’s A particular story.

At The prime of 2020 and into early 2021, Castillo Seed Agency, a hemp farm located on Cabrillo Freeway in Half Moon Bay, didn’t pay its farmworkers for about eight weeks. Farmworkers tright here made Lower than $30,000 per yr, so a two-month pay hole was disastrous For very low-income people. If it Weren’t for the group organizations and group activists, The outcomes Might have been far worse for these households. This case was anecdotal proof for anti-hashish people thOn the hemp and hashish industries would solely convey extra problem to farmworker life. Hemp and hashish are completely different authorizedly; although they’re The identical plant, they include completely different levels of THC. 

So as to add salt to the wound, this previous July, two hashish professionalducers that share a professionalperty in Half Moon Bay have been robbed: Half Moon Develop and Darkish Coronary heart. This case involved an armed theft with photographs fired, but fortunately, Nobody was harm. This incident triggered outrage and concern in the native Latinx group and appeared to further affirm For A lot of that hashish was no good. I reached out to Definitely one of many farm house owners to study extra about what occurred and requested for An alternative To converse with the farmworkers to get their opinions. He welcomed me with open arms. 

I used to be immediately impressed by the transparency and friendliness of Definitely one of Many householders. It’s not widespread To fulfill youthful farmers anyextra. He professionalvided a tour of the operation and anshave beend all my Questions on paying taxes, environmental influence, safety, labor, and so on. Having A diploma in agriculture and rural enchancment, as a former FFA member and as a former worker of the U.S. Division of Agriculture, I’ve seen many farms in my lifetime. Half Moon Develop Is truly an event to Adjust to relating to professionalduction, labor circumstances, housing and stewardship. One farmworker informed me, “That is Definitely one of the biggest farm in The complete area.” 

At Half Moon Develop, the farmworkers shared that compensation is greater than Ancompletely different farm in the county, round $20/hour — which Is taken Beneath consideration terribly low income by county regulars. They professionalvide full-time staff with well being care safety, paid sick depart And a few acquire housing advantages. Really, That is made potential by a extreme-worth crop, and hashish can go for $800 to $1,400/pound. To match, corn is about $150/bushel, and one bushel is 56 kilos. That Signifies that corn is about $2.67/pound. Neverthemuch less, hashish’ legal guidelines are the strictest in the agriculture enterprise, which skyrockets prices that A regular crop Does not face — it comes Proper down to margins. 

The county’s ag enterprise has been steadily declining and is dropping jobs, tax income and A life-type for our costeños (from the coast). As an advocate for agriculture, I’m involved that we’ll Not have farmworkers and their households dwelling right here in a matter of yrs. Sure, We will in all probability retrain many farmworkers to enter completely different industries, Neverthemuch less it’s not that straightforward, with education and language obstacles typically being A drawback. I’m furtherly involved that some communities Aren’t being heard, but based on my expertise at Half Moon Develop, I hope They will Uncover a center floor and share the fruits of a thriving enterprise.  

Cannabis is right here To maintain, and being “frenemies” is A greater selection than antagonizing an enterprise that isn’t leaving. Cannabis Might be the ag enterprise’s Hail Mary. 

Rudy Espinoza Murray is a resident of Redwood Metropolis, husband and father. He has A diploma from Cornell College in agriculture and rural enchancment, is passionate Regarding the ag enterprise, and is the director Of promoting for a nationwide professional-housing nonprofessionalfit.

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