This is in regard to the cannabis article published April 22. Regulation has been stressful. My family members spent years of their time that they will never get paid for. We invested in property, business and the county, state and federal taxes plus fees to continue to live like other residents here. If you understand what stress is, then you understand this has taken years from us.

I’m disturbed when reading articles that slander the cannabis industry by making biased opinions into facts. Another youth dies (firearms) and “Makeover by fire, marijuana” trumps this tragedy. Sad. Paragraphs on cannabis in between paragraphs about the fire and forest issues (unrelated to cannabis) became confusing, open for interpretation and draw no correlation to one another, but still it was published.

Biased comments from the article (not all) and I quote,

“Meanwhile a new type of agriculture is displacing the timber and beef production that once dominated here.”

How is cannabis displacing either? Timber production is overwhelmed with Butte Fire wood and many properties are not zoned to graze cattle. Even if they “displace cattle,” state regulation allows the largest farms to cultivate up to one acre of cannabis, hardly enough area to displace the animals.

“There are almost too many greenhouses under construction to count from the air.” Who is to say what they are using them for? Don’t forget that people lost their homes and outbuildings in the fire. They may need many of these structures for more than one reason.

“Properties where this kind of construction is happening often have travel trailers parked onsite.” Did we already forget that the Butte Fire happened?

“It’s obvious that growing pot is more important than rebuilding a home that once stood on a razed parcel.” Incorrect. Rebuilding your home and garden are important. As a reminder, because I think everyone opposed forgets, cannabis producers produce cannabis annually, an income that is only promised once a year after all the hard work is done. Many lost everything in the fire including the garden income. How can you say that it is not important to rebuild a home? Give support, encouragement and respect.

The “land rush” did not happen overnight. Producers purchase burned properties for more than the market value. Why not accept it? Spread the wealth.

Speaking of wealth, onlookers everywhere can stop viewing the transfer trucks, water trucks and delivery trucks bringing goods to producers as a negative impact. Instead see it as a positive one since it means that local companies are benefiting, thriving and producing from the growth of the industry. If you are worried about negative environmental impacts, look at what the Regional Water Quality Control Board is requiring of cannabis producers.

Including names and garden locations is extremely dangerous. Anyone anywhere can identify these locations and potentially steal product. Our neighbors in Sheep Ranch must worry now that you, the Calaveras Enterprise, published such sensitive information. Publishing the value and purchase date of the property is not news! That puts locals at risk and opens Calaveras up to crime. Shame on you.

Seeing a garden from the road is one thing. Giving someone a joy ride in a plane to photograph gardens is an invasion of privacy. Locals easily identify these locations. People from out of town could easily do the same.

Why are you trying to divide local people? The Enterprise has a power unlike any other form of media in the area. Your words are read by thousands. Don’t forget the readers from outside the county. Please be more sensitive to this controversial and extremely sensitive subject matter. My opinion is that it is amoral to play on people’s emotions to sell your paper.

Educate people on what’s really going on, publish the proposed state regulation and water board requirements for cannabis producers. Discuss what regulation means for the blooming agricultural industry. If knowledge doesn’t calm society then society isn’t looking at the issue with love in its heart, but animosity for people who are doing things differently.

And that is OK. They don’t need to understand the cannabis culture. But please understand that we work hard and live here because we love our land and Calaveras. We want the bad actors to leave as much as you do. Let us find common ground in a state of mind that brings us together as a community instead of risking or destroying the lives of people in our community that produce cannabis.

My opinion stems from frustration. I want the love for family, friends, neighbors and concerned or opposing Calaveras citizens to be shared. I would like to see some more cooperation to bring people together in the community instead of driving them apart. Many are uneducated on the issue. They make assumptions, come to conclusions and misunderstand what we are trying to accomplish as contributing members of society.

Jessica Berdechowski is a cannabis cultivator who lives in Calaveras County. You can reach her at jessica.berdechowski@gmail.com.

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