(Tompkins Weekly, 6-28-23, by Jeff Jones)
Dude, the global economy right now is such a bummer!
The “Business as Usual” economy is resulting in terrible outcomes:
- Every year, 40 billion tons of topsoil is lost through corporate mismanagement of farmlands.
- Over 800 million people go hungry each day, and even more lack access to clean water and sanitation.
- Biodiversity is plummeting, with humanity already causing the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and half of all plants.
By simply participating in the “Business as Usual” economy – for example, buying a carrot at the grocery store with a credit card – we generate human misery, ecological destruction, and increase the existential threat of climate change. It seems self-evident that the “Business as Usual” economy needs drastic changes, if not a proper burial, and indeed some efforts have been made, but change is not coming fast enough.
Take for example the promise of “organic” and the supposed great leap forward in sustainable food production this was to usher in. Today, if we buy an “organic” carrot, it is perfectly acceptable for that carrot to be produced on a 20,000-acre mono-cropped farm in the high desert using inefficient flood-furrow water irrigation, and harvested by seasonal exploited labor who toil in terrible conditions. Today this “organic” carrot grower, Grimmway Farms (along with smoothie-maker Bolthouse Farms), are suing to protect their exploitation of the Cuyama Valley’s groundwater resources to the detriment of local small farms and communities.
The time has come to demand a new paradigm – to move on from “less bad” and “sustainable” towards “actually good” and “regenerative”. We need to move on to the Next Economy.
Say man, do you have an economy that empowers us to meet our basic needs – food, shelter, clothing, health care, loving relationships – while actually generating better outcomes: cleaner air and water, more biodiversity, richer topsoil, and decreasing carbon in the atmosphere?
Uhhhhhh, no. Not on me man.
Heh heh… It’d be a lot cooler if you did.
Like, literally cooler. Here on Earth.
When faced with the staggering reality of our impact on this planet and the enormity of the collective action necessary to truly save us from extinction within the next century, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and depressed. Did the pandemic increase your confidence in humanity to feed, and clothe, and house, and care for, and love ourselves and our neighbors in the face of uncertainty? Or did we run deeper behind our doors, onto our screens, and into the welcoming arms of corporations?
In its phytochemistry, Cannabis contains molecules that help us better connect with ourselves and our communities, while healing our wounds and illnesses.
In its stalks, it contains renewable fibers and building materials that we can use to make clothing, and to house ourselves and our children.
In the (mostly) informal economies it supports, it enables small (mostly very small) enterprise and good livelihoods in distressed urban and rural communities.
In these and many other ways, cannabis has the potential to be a leader in ushering in the Next Economy here in New York.
Imagine thousands of cannabis stores, “tea shops”, and small-scale manufacturing licenses owned by queer black women with a record.
Imagine dozens of multi-stakeholder cooperatives owned by small growers, craftspersons, and cannabis consumers and patients, all getting together to share their bounties every month prepared in their communal commissary facilities.
Imagine multitudes of small cannabis farms using regenerative practices, building topsoil, offering homes to birds, bats, and pollinators, and producing other foods and medicines for their communities.
Imagine being able to grow your own medicine right at home, alongside your food and flowers, removing transactions from the “Business as Usual” economy along the way.
Initially, the State of New York, led by the Governor’s Office and the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), set a positive intention for cannabis in New York – with a powerful social justice message and the promise of an inclusive cannabis economy.
However, these agencies are collectively in the process of making two huge mistakes that threaten not only the future of cannabis in New York, but also the potential for cannabis to blossom into an awesome tool to help repair the world.
- They Are Selling Out the Future of Cannabis to Corporations: The OCM’s proposed final regulations (open for comment until July 28th) would greenlight 1.1 million sq ft (25 acres!) of resource-intensive indoor canopy for several well-financed and well-connected cannabis corporations as early as this Summer. This is before any small legacy indoor growers or small makers have been able to enter the market, and before any other indoor canopy has been permitted. These companies are seeking to unfairly dominate the New York market through intense lobbying and legal threats. In 2016, a similar last-minute change to California’s adult-use cannabis regulations (following a similar corporate lobbying effort) created a loophole for licenses to be ‘stacked’ and allowed for multi-acre farms in contrast to the original wording of Prop 64. This has led to corporations using unfair (including allegedly illegal tactics) that have decimated the small enterprise and legacy communities in California and has spoiled any social justice initiatives. Google “glass house catalyst lawsuit” and do your own research.
- They Are Not Increasing Access to Markets for Small Cannabis Enterprises in New York: Lawmakers and regulators are drafting overwrought law based on the myth of Reefer Madness and rooted in the persecution under prohibition of the cannabis plant, cannabis producers, and cannabis users. Even when well-intentioned, these laws and regulations are so complicated and complex that small enterprises, regenerative farms, and co-operatives are virtually impossible. These over-complicated regulations, and constant program delays and changes, only benefit the corporate takeover playbook. At a meeting of the Cannabis Control Board on June 15, a multi-stakeholder proposal that would enable farmers-market-style cannabis outlets (an idea actually brought forward by the OCM) was pulled from the agenda at the last minute and delayed.
Demand a better future for cannabis and with cannabis in New York. You are able to make comments on the proposed greenlighting of 1.1 million sq ft of indoor canopy for corporations until July 28. You can also write to the Governor’s Office and the OCM and demand that they increase the ability of small enterprises to access viable markets for their products.
If the State does not take action on these two issues, then all of the rest – the words and intentions, the preferential licensing for social justice candidates, the training and mentoring, the access to loans – all of which has been pretty good out of the gate compared to other states – doesn’t mean squat.
New York, let’s unleash the awesome regenerative power of cannabis and begin striving towards the Next Economy!
Please visit thelastpotfarm.com/UNFK-NY to take action now!
Jeff Jones is a cannabis farmer based in the heart of the Finger Lakes’ Emerald Necklace. With a background in microenterprise development and microfinance, Jeff has worked for the Aspen Institute and Mercy Corps, co-created the MicroMentor.org platform, was the inaugural Operations Manager for one of the first cannabis producer co-ops in California, launched a cannabis brand, PremaFlora, focused on sourcing from small, regenerative, diverse farms – all while managing a network of traditional market cannabis farms and participating on all sides of that underground economy as well. He is the second most famous Jeff Jones in cannabis today, and believes in the awesome power of cannabis to repair the World! He would love to hear from you at th************@gm***.com.
If you liked this article, you may want to check out our complete archives of SOS Tompkins Weekly articles