The empty lot in the background used to be a large building full of shops. It's in the center of downtown and I remember obsessing over one of the shops when I was seven, because they had a display of large stuffed unicorns in the front window. While I was still obsessing over the unicorns (and lobbying for one of them!) the entire building burned to the ground. This lot has stood empty in the middle of historic downtown Dunsmuir since that day.
It won't be empty for long though, if the mayor has anything to say about it.
Mayor Peter Arth owns the lot and is asking Dunsmuir's city council for a permit that would allow him to lease the three lots to a cannabis collective that would erect greenhouses and grow "medicinal marijuana" right in the center of downtown.
This development has placed Dunsmuir in the spotlight and you can read some of the articles that are out there here:
If you read the comments in the Record Searchlight, the majority of people (who are motivated enough to comment anyways) seem to be thrilled with the idea.
I could write a few dozen blog entries about my views on this subject and the people who commented would instantly label me "ignorant" and "uninformed." It isn't trendy in much of Northern California to be against the legalization of marijuana.
One of the most popular arguments I hear is that "it's from God."
Fortunately that type of logic is easily torn apart. A lot of things are "from God" that would be very damaging to the human body. If you use the "it's from God" argument than cocaine and heroin should be fine too. Or how about arsenic?
It may not be the popular Californian view, but having seen friends destroy their lives with pot (literally...) I can't see the drug as "harmless."
I have to say that I started out with an unfair bias. I remember seeing articles about joggers who had had their knee caps blown off because the path they were on was too near a pot growers garden and the grower had set booby traps. And there were grocery stores in the county I lived in for the first seven years of my life where you could periodically run into men with machine guns who were in picking up supplies before they headed back to guard the gardens.
I don't buy into the belief that "legalizing marijuana would end all that" either. I don't think the folks that I know that are growers are going to suddenly decide they want to share their profits with Uncle Sam. The cartels that have moved into the North State aren't going to like that idea either.
The immediate drawback Dunsmuir will see, however, will be the smell. I live on property next to growers. The smell carries the quarter mile from their house to ours and it smells like a skunk sprayed for most of autumn and then periodically through out the rest of the year. It is truly disgusting to live with day in and day out.
And I'm sure that will do wonders for the struggling little mountain town I grew up in, whose main industry is tourism. Tourists love visiting a town that stinks (again, literally...).
photo by Andreas Fuhrmann in the Record Searchlight