Two northern California crime syndicates with dramatically different business models are locked in a struggle over commercial marijuana market share. The winner will control the state’s business climate for decades to come.
The Sacramento cartel has taken a spread-the-wealth approach by hiring convicted felons to operate pot farms in low-income neighborhoods and areas zoned “light industrial.”
The SacBrie contacted representatives of both cartels.
“Frankly, the wiseguys in Sacramento don’t stand a chance,” a shadowy figure told us in the parking garage of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. “We have the vineyards, the name recognition, and the old money, not to mention the sheer square mileage. Once you get here and get loaded, it’s pretty hard to get home. How can Sacramento compete with that?”
The cartel in Sacramento, which has been planning for months to make the city a regional hub for the marijuana industry, didn’t take kindly to the insinuation of weakness.
“The days are gone forever when our enemies could dominate us with threats and slick marketing campaigns,” said the cartel leader from his office in City Hall. “We’re doing it the old school way: lawyers, guns, and muscle. Besides that, we have a Pot Czar.”
Economists who have studied the social and financial behavior of drug cartels from Colombia to Afghanistan say either approach could work, but that Sonoma should be careful.
“Pairing wine with cannabis is a nice idea, which will attract the massage and hot tub crowd,” said one expert. “But growers from the mean streets of the Central Valley would have no problem exercising their ‘veto power.’ Which is why you can’t print my name.”