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Assignment: Ukiah-Death by bureaucracy

Tommy Wayne Kramer

February 26, 2023 at 8:27 a.m.

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Mendocino County’s marijuana industry was started by curious hippies, all with a tinge of the outlaw, and grew and flourished through the years despite the real possibility of arrest, imprisonment, ripoffs, crop failures and more.

Mendo weed thrives as no other marijuana “brand” in the United States. It’s the benchmark, the best and most famous product of its kind. Comparing it to the finest champagnes from the most prestigious French vineyards is not unreasonable.

Tales are told of growers without formal education but willing to work hard hours and face daunting risks enroute to becoming millionaires.

They paid no taxes on profits from their crops, yet the flood of money generated by illegal pot propped up county and regional economies for many years. Growers drove expensive vehicles, vacationed in Hawaii and bought second homes anywhere they wanted.

Times were good, if you didn’t get caught.

But all along they (mostly) argued and lobbied for legalization. So did a sizable percentage of the rest of us if only for the amount of money marijuana would fetch when taxed.

“Same as cigarettes and booze,” ran the standard phrase, and everyone would nod in agreement. Let the government take over, then stand back as the money rolled in and the county got rich. What could go wrong?

Everything, as it turns out. Everything the bozos in charge of Mendocino County did was wrong, stupid, expensive and counterproductive. The most valuable commodity of its kind was gift-wrapped and handed over to county supervisors, who then bungled their prize recklessly, repeatedly, and maybe irretrievably.

A story by Lester Black on a recent SFGate online news site reveals disturbing, hard-to-believe facts:

1) Six years after marijuana was legalized, barely 1 percent of Mendocino County pot growers (12 out of 832 applicants) have been granted permits to cultivate marijuana. Humboldt County’s rate is 63 percent.

2) The California Department of Cannabis Control says our approval rate is among the very lowest in the state, and the county’s marijuana industry “is on the brink of irreversible failure” due to negligence by county government.

3) A local Cannabis Alliance of weed growers says Mendocino County is a “roadblock” rather than a partner in the legalization process.

4) The director of our county Cannabis Department, Kristen Nevedal, offers the precise remedy we’d expect from a government bureaucrat. She’ll be hiring “at least 16 new employees,” then offered an unsolicited endorsement of herself and the fine job she’s doing by stating “I do not believe (my) department is mismanaged.” She says she has “an amazing and dedicated staff,” leaving us to wonder if she’d recognize a useless, incompetent staff.

It’s hard to overstate what a colossal mess the county has made of things. They’ve taken the finest product in the land and made it unavailable to consumers.

They’ve alienated our best marijuana cultivators, thrown them out of work, and those growers are now broke and moving to Humboldt County.

They’ve cheated the taxpayers by spending millions and millions of dollars on highly paid administrators and their costly consultants and assistants without returning a nickel’s profit to the treasury.

That’s what citizens have gotten from extremely well-compensated county administrators and department heads and from elected officials who confidently tell voters at election time they’ll work hard to solve problems, make the tough decisions and lead the way forward.

Rather than creating revenue they’ve gone the opposite direction. They’ve saddled us with six years of costly, inept administrators thwarting the applicants they’re hired to help.

They’ve piled idiotic, ever-changing regulations on top of demands variously interpreted by a revolving merry-go-round of workers and administrators in a bureaucratic mess that has, statistically, rewarded zero applicants. If they’d locked the doors and turned out the lights six years ago it would not have gone worse.

What’s funny ha ha is that instead of doing conscientious work and performing their jobs well, our bumbling, incompetent, carefree county employees are the ones driving expensive vehicles, vacationing in Hawaii and, with their outlandish lifetime pensions, retiring wherever the hell they want.


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