Eddie Alexander Morgan
Eureka 4th Ward
Do you support the growth of cannabis industries in your city? Please explain specific policies that you support or oppose.
I support the growth of the cannabis industry in Eureka, as it is not only a part of the culture and history of Humboldt County but it is also a means of livelihood for many in our community. Cannabis is a legal product in the State of California, and as such should be subject to the same guidelines, fees, and regulations as other agricultural businesses. Therefore I would support fair taxation policies, the streamlining of permitting, and fair rates for legal permits, in order to provide an open, legal market that doesn't encourage the proliferation of blackmarket cannabis production. The city should accept the cannabis industry as a part of its business community and work to proactively promote local products. I would rather have friends and members of my community determining the growth of the cannabis industry instead of having external forces dictate cannabis distribution and growth from outside our County.
Are there segments of the cannabis supply chain—cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution, retail—that you want to see more of, or less of, in your city? Explain.
I like to see hard-working, innovative people succeed in their businesses. My general instinct is supporting a diverse market with cultivation, manufacturing, testing, distribution and retail all represented, but I am not an expert in this industry. At the end of the day, I would listen to the people that are in the cannabis supply chain and consult industry experts as to what the best balance for successes is--and support those efforts.
What positions did you take on cannabis, if any, during the war on drugs…think 1970 into the 21st Century? Have those views evolved over time, how and when?
Be it the “noble experiment” with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s or the war on drugs starting in the 1970s, both were failures. Paying attention to the war on drugs from the late 1980s (when I reached adulthood) until the present, my views have only strengthened in regards to the poor efficacy of a prohibition policies. Criminalizing cannabis production, selling, and possession is a waste of resources that offers no tangible benefit to the community. I wholeheartedly support the regulated legalization of cannabis, the same way I support the regulated legalization of alcohol.
What do you know about the dozens of cannabis businesses that have located in your city since 2016? How many businesses are there? How many jobs? How much paid in permits and fees?
Obtaining hard numbers regarding cannabis-related businesses is somewhat hard to do in the current environment. There are pretty diverse reports based on the source. Numbers vary widely as reported by published information from the cannabis industry, the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce, Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury reports, Humboldt County's Cannabis Planning Program, the City of Eureka's budget, and other personal anecdotes. What does come through in all these sources is that the cannabis business/industry is very influential and an important part of our community, and much of the recent retail and industrial property developments have been in the cannabis industry. The industry has significant effects on retail, agricultural cultivation, testing, manufacturing and distribution, and ancillary business services, which in turn impact artisanal manufacturing, legal permitting, and much more. What is clear in researching these questions is that members of the cannabis business are our friends, neighbors, and regular folks from our community, and they contribute monetarily and provide jobs. One of my objectives, if given the opportunity to serve, is to encourage and produce more transparent systems overall. This would include public reporting and information regarding the contributions of the cannabis industry to the community. I intend to get much of this information directly from organizations that support the local cannabis industry and businesses.
Do you support a city-based excise tax on cannabis? If so, under what circumstances, on which activities, how much and on what basis (sales, square footage, etc)?
This is a complicated question that must be handled by more than one person, because, as is true of many financial arrangements, the devil is in the details. Like all businesses, the cannabis industry depends on infrastructure, a safe environment, and many other things that cities and governments provide. However, overtaxing an industry kills business, which is not good for anybody in the long run. Overtaxing can also cause markets to go underground, which I came to understand particularly well during the time I spent in Eastern Europe and the Balkans for two years. The bottom line is that if the city wants businesses to pay for the externalities that make them thrive, we must understand that overtaxing is counterproductive--especially hurting small, local businesses and disempowering our community. The general rule of thumb that I would follow would be similar to tax regulations applied to the beverage industry, with the exception of having a progressive tax for larger producers. I strongly believe that there is benefit to Humboldt County and the city of Eureka in supporting local growers, smaller supply-chain members, and boutique-like retail establishments over outside corporations and huge growers, much like encouraging small Napa and Sonoma wineries over Central Valley wine-producing mammoths.
How would you make resources more available to cannabis businesses since they are often precluded from relief and other opportunities provided to other small businesses, such as federally-funded assistance?
The federal status of cannabis does, indeed, make this a challenge. I don't have any quick solutions to the problem, but I do believe that the city should provide industry support for cannabis business just as it does for others whenever possible. Encouraging transparency and information flow will be one of the main efforts I will strive for. Supporting organizations such as the Humboldt County Growers Association (HCGA) and providing easier guidelines for permitting--that will allow the average person to manage their business development without the expense of outside experts and attorneys--could help cannabis-related businesses access resources and save money. I currently feel that one of the biggest hurdles the cannabis industry is encountering is the banking issue, and exploring options that would provide cannabis businesses with the same support provided by these financial institutions is paramount to long-term success. It's not entirely clear to me how the City Council would be engaged in such endeavors, but I would certainly support the cannabis industry's efforts to address their challenges, for the betterment of our economy and community.
How do you envision the future of cannabis in your city, and in Humboldt County more broadly?
Much like Napa Valley is famous for its wines and boutique wine cellars I strongly believe that Humboldt County and Eureka have the cultural background add expertise for the county and city of Eureka to create a unique experience around the cannabis culture that would be beneficial to all.
Do you currently, or have you enjoyed/consumed cannabis?
I have never consumed cannabis. I did not go to high school in the United States, where many likely have their first experience, and soon after graduation I joined the American army, which instituted drug testing (to include cannabis). While serving in the military for over 25 years, and maintaining a security clearance that included regular testing, I never consumed or enjoyed cannabis. Now that I'm retired, I may possibly try cannabis when I'm older, but I'm past the age of being curious and don't have any medical needs that cannabis would address. A glass of wine or a cocktail serves me well for the time being.