By: Coral G. Ceiley
The year is 2014 and many retired people in Redding, California, have been complaining about the smell of the marijuana within the city limits. Groups of people are complaining at city council meetings about the abundance of marijuana gardens, the increase in crime rates, and the harmful chemicals used in cultivation.
Nobody is mentioning the huge economic shot in the arm Redding and Shasta County have received from the dozen or more grow stores, which are flourishing, or the prolific co-ops; not to mention the money spent by well-paid growers who spend, spend, spend in all the local markets.
So eventually an outdoor ban is drafted and placed on the ballot. Well, unfortunately, while the pot supporters were playing video games and rolling doobies, the retired folks were voting, and the measure passed. The outdoor ban would take effect in 2015 and offenders would be given “no quarter.” The Marijuana Task Force was beefed up and given more funding.
When the local growers came out of their smoke-induced fogs and read the measure, they were aghast. This law prohibited growing marijuana in the county, but allowed growing in the city limits of Redding! How could this be? Did somebody get this wrong? We will never know, although my suspicions lie with the logging company Sierra Pacific which might have lobbied and donated money so that their employees were no longer in danger of walking onto mountain grow sites unexpectedly. So, although the complaints were from residents of the city of Redding, the measure which passed did nothing to curtail growing in the city, but banned growing outdoors, using nature’s free sunlight, in the entire county.
In the small print was explained that a homeowner could grow indoors in a permitted outbuilding having a permanent foundation, with the use of a ventilation system and indoor lights, on a property where there was an existing legal residence. The ban should be deemed unconstitutional based on economic feasibility alone! Who can afford to do that? No one who grows medicinal marijuana! So growing in our subdivision by happy folks in well-manicured gardens who lived off the grid in cabins and trailers was legal no more. The county fathers had really stuck it to us, and the repercussions spread like a tsunami.
The Marijuana Eradication Team proved to be a formidable opponent. The team is led by a Native American tracker who remembers faces, names, and places. He met my friend and me one time and a year later remembered exactly when and where he’d met us. The team flies overhead in helicopters looking for water lines and canopies. They serve warrants and seize generators, vehicles, and property. They knock down gates and kick down doors. In my opinion, they are overzealous. Wouldn’t all this money, time, and energy be best served rooting out crystal meth labs? I don’t know. I’m just a poor landowner who can’t get a dime for my property, make a dollar with it, and had to throw in the towel. Running out of money, I actually abandoned my well and my cabin returning to Kern County. No happy ending to this fairy tale.
The saddest thing about the outdoor growing ban is that the mountain has become a junk yard – every property is abandoned. When law enforcement came and cut down people’s livelihood, people turned on each other like hungry wolves and started stealing from one another. The unwritten outlaw creed was cast aside as men tried to feed their families and mayhem ensued. Now the mountain is littered with trash and “for sale by owner” signs. Old water tanks and Smart Pots lay unused and dusty. Abandoned pick-ups litter the deserted dirt roads. Trailers are ransacked for items that might be sold for a couple of bucks. Basically, the ban turned a thriving community into a ghost town. One can only hope and pray that the ban is overturned eventually and prosperity and respect will return to the Ponderosa Subdivision of Shasta County.