Walkers say it's time to take back the woods - Humboldt Beacon
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#1 Aug 30, 2012
It's a myth that Jere Melo's death occurred "while investigating reports of an illegal marijuana grow on timber company property." But the myth is still being flogged by timber company propagandists in these pages. Mary Bulwinkel was the longtime PR flack for Charles Hurwitz's Maxxam-owned Pacific Lumber Company, the company which moonscaped more ancient redwood forest than any other during the 30 years from 1985 to 2005.
Mendocino County investigators said Aaron Bassler's small poppy garden was for personal use. It was not "an opium poppy grow" in the sense of a commercial growing operation as stated by Bulwinkel. Bassler did not camp out in the "timber company owned" forest land in order to grow poppies. He camped there because he had lost his home in Fort Bragg and decided to live as a survivalist hermit in the woods. He grew a small poppy garden to obtain opium for his own self-medication instead of using prescription pain pills as he was known to do previously.
I challenge Mary Bulwinkel, the Jere Melo Foundation, and/or Hawthorne Timber to show that Jere Melo's death was caused by or connected to commercial cultivation of any illegal drug. I challenge them to show that any alleged "environmental damage" by pot growers is significant compared with that done by any one of the corporate loggers of the redwoods. And I challenge anybody to show that there is any significant commercial growing of opium poppies anywhere in the United States.
Neither Melo nor Matt Coleman were killed by Bassler because of illegal drug growing. They were killed by an insane serial killer whose father tried unsuccessfully to get help for him. That's why I find it hypocritical and self-serving for the timber industry, politicians and the Mendocino County sheriff to keep holding Melo up as a martyr to the cause of stamping out pot growing. I think both the "environmental damage" and the supposed danger to recreationists and timber workers are highly exaggerated.
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