When a Colorado community doesn't want a marijuana cultivation warehouse, some people assume that the area is anti-pot and, therefore, anti-Colorado. However, one Boulder farming community is fighting a battle against marijuana that has nothing to do with any stereotypes about the plant.
Paul Cure of Cure Organic Farms has spent the last ten years building up a certified organic farm with his wife, Anne. To be certified organic by the government, the Cures had to pay thousands of dollars in fees and maintain strict requirements on their growing and handling of food.
But if Boulder County approves the construction of four, 4,000-plus square-foot marijuana greenhouses and a 5,040 square-foot plant warehouse on 75th Street and Valmont Road, Paul Cure says, their organic farm would become tainted.
"This is not about pot," he adds. "Our concerns are very multi-dimensional. First and foremost, the air and water quality would be seriously jeopardized. This is a 21,000 square-foot footprint that our whole neighborhood is affected by."
Cure, whose land would border the proposed growing operation, says the pesticides and chemicals used to grow indoor marijuana would severely hurt the neighboring soil, and the abundant pot plants would impact the smell of his community. Other farmers and residents in the area feel the same way he does, he adds.
Jennifer Cunningham of Lafayette started an online petition against the proposed construction on change.org. In the language of the petition, which currently has 270 signatures, she says her kids routinely go to Cure Farms for both educational and recreational purposes -- another aspect of his business that Cure is worried about losing.
The proposed warehouse and greenhouses are tied to Laszlo Bagi, whose marijuana growing operation was raided by the DEA in November 2013; Bagi was never charged after the raid and couldn't be reached for comment. Pantera Properties, which is registered under the name of Bagi's wife, Wendy, is the applicant for the grow operation.
Cure says he's never spoken to Bagi, but was aware of the DEA raid.
Cure has two daughters, ages six and one, and his farm regularly hosts school visits and summer camps. "How am I supposed to explain neighboring barbwire fences and security guards to a six-year-old?" he asks. "How many times do you read about kidnappings and shootings? These are real situations, not paranoid assumptions. People's families are affected, and I'm supposed to just say we'll be the test case?"
He's always wanted to hand his farm down to his children, but now he's not sure if he'll have a farm to give them. "The growing chemicals and pesticides seep into the soil. Once that happens, there goes my organic certification, and there goes my farm," he says.
Cure is aware that his fight could move to the courts, and he's trying to stay optimistic. "We've worked ten years for this. I don't want to tell my kids we're moving," he says. "But this situation is putting my community at risk, so what's the county in favor of?"
Cure Organic Farms posted this notice on its website encouraging "Friends of the Farm" to sent letters of protest to county officials; the deadline is today:
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We are in urgent need of your help with an issue that threatens our business. An extremely large, industrial marijuana grow facility has received initial approval to pursue building on the land directly behind our farm. To be clear, we are not against marijuana and its distribution. However, we have serious environmental concerns about the chemicals this particular business will be using and their impact on our farm, as well as a host of other issues. We have a very short time to let the Boulder County Commissioners know there is opposition to this business and encourage them to hold a public hearing on the matter.
If you support what we're doing, please send a letter to John Holste: firstname.lastname@example.org letting him know your concerns. He must receive it by Wednesday May 28, 2014. Below we've given you language to use in your letter.
Please let us know if you have any questions. As always, we are indebted to your ongoing support.
Anne & Paul Cure