After reading My Word in the Feb. 24, 2009, edition of the Times-Standard, I felt a response from an affected and concerned citizen was necessary.
In my opinion:
I am thankful that we have elected officials who care enough about our community to take action to stop the widespread abuse and misuse of Prop 215. They have my vote and the votes of many others. They seem to care enough about the degradation of life, for some of us, to risk not being re-elected.
The 19-year-old HSU student, according to Jeffrey Schwartz, had a few pounds of pot. He should not have had that much because it is illegal. If he had not been transporting the pot, and getting caught, he would not have gotten in trouble, now would he? It was his choice. Probably for money. He chose to do the crime.
Two of the growers recently sentenced to 270 days in jail deserved it. They contributed to a problem here in Greenview, crime. In two weeks' time, Greenview had four burglaries. It is believed the burglars were looking for pot. My house was broken into four times in one year, because of the pot smell coming from next door. Nothing was taken, because I don't have pot. The pot smell was so strong the thieves couldn't tell which house it was coming from. Try sleeping after having your house broken into!
The grower next door, before the current one, was arrested for chasing two people down Lewis Avenue with a shotgun. He had so much traffic coming and going at all hours of the day, it was ridiculous. He got off with just probation. We lost a lot of sleep because of him. He was not a good neighbor.
Two doors down from this grow house lives an elderly couple. The man is 85, the woman 83. At two in the morning the woman heard a noise in her house. She got up to see what it was, and there was a man in her bathroom. The burglar, or home invader, fled through the bathroom window. The responding APD officer said the burglar was likely after pot, as the smell was so strong in our neighborhood. That's two wrong houses burgled. The results could have been a lot worse.
I wonder why the growers have chosen Arcata neighborhoods to grow weed, and not some other place? Why not in the country? Why ruin neighborhoods? We supposedly have a housing shortage, for people, but not for pot. Go grow where you came from. Go!
Here in Arcata, things had gotten so bad that something needed to be done. Yes, it was out of control. That is why, after so much debate, Arcata passed an ordinance to, somewhat, regulate the growing of pot.
Things here really haven't changed. The grows continue, and we still don't have good neighbors. They don't know or care when someone passes away. They don't offer to help the sick or elderly. They don't keep an eye out for the few remaining children.
They don't check on neighbors when an ambulance or fire truck shows up, even with lights flashing and sirens blaring. All that concerns them is pot, money and themselves, not our community.
It is true that law enforcement has limited budgets, but that doesn't mean that pot crimes should go unprosecuted. Which crimes should be prosecuted and which shouldn't? Naturally, we should prosecute child molesters, rapists and murderers, as well as illegal pot growers, traffickers and dealers.
Please, officials of the criminal justice system, continue prosecuting these criminals. Something has to be done to stop the deterioration of life here in Humboldt County. There are still some of us who appreciate what you do, and we want the laws to be enforced.
And, thank you for doing a good job. You have my vote.
☛ TS Op-Ed Pot grows are ruining neighborhoods
☛ TS Comments thread
jason says "90% of this letter was SPOT ON! This coming from a pro-legalizer.
ED Denson very 'helpfully' suggests Paul Hooker paints a sad picture of life in Greenview. It is difficult to tell exactly what is happening because much of what he relates is either someone else's story which he is retelling, or simply his opinions stated as facts. Did the Arcata police officer tell the elderly couple that their burglar was probably looking for pot? Or did they ask him if that were likely and he agreed, or did the neighbor embellish the story when telling it to Mr. Hooker, or to the person from whom Mr. Hooker heard it? We have no way of knowing. But if things are as Mr. Hooker says, and there is a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood what we have here is a failure of law enforcement to catch burglars. not a problem with marijuana growing. Suppose the neighbors got rich and had expensive cars outside their homes and high-ticket items visible through their living room windows, and attracted burglars. Would Mr. Hooker speak out against conspicuous consumption and hope the city regulated it?
Mr. Hooker believes the marijuana gardens of which he is aware are illegal, but he has no way of knowing that. And he believes he knows which of his neighbors are growing marijuana, but he has no way to be sure of that either. What if people he thinks are fine neighbors, helping the sick, consoling survivors of family deaths, checking on neighbors when ambulances show up - what if these people are also growing marijuana?
If Greenview suffers as Mr.Hooker says, then the answer is effective law enforcement response to burglars, not persecution of or hatred directed towards medical marijuana growers. Over 100,000 Californians are finding relief from medical conditions, some life-threatening, by using medical marijuana. Someone has to grow the marijuana these people use, and it has to be done somewhere. If some of it is being grown in Greenview, and there are social problems created by that, those need to be addressed. If the growers are breaking the law, then the law should deal with them. But attacking neighbors who are not breaking the law just amplifies the social problems, while doing nothing to address them.
I suggest 3 appraoches (sp) to the problems Mr. Hooker mentions. 1) legalizing marijuana so that the price will collapse, and thus marijuana gardens will not attract burglars and more than tomato gardens do. This is a long term approach; 2) working with the Arcata police to prevent burglaries, and to catch and prosecute those who commit them, this is a medium term approach 3) talking with neighbors to see if a neighborhood watch group could reduce burglaries. This could be done today.
The one thing that will not be productive is trying to harass legal medical marijuana growers. This helps neither the neighborhood, the patients who depend upon the medicine, nor society.
NOTE THAT Ed Denson is a pot attorney and he is apparently oblivious to the enormous efforts that citizens have gone to to even get someone to listen - the enormous citizen effort it took to finally get the City Council to take up the topic, the backlash against the citizens who speak up (oh, the tolerant left), and the backlash against the Arcata Eye and it's editor Kevin Hoover for taking up the issue. The ignorance behind his comments is staggering.