I Call Them “Dope Yuppies”


I got a phone call during my engineering shift at KMUD last Friday. “Did I hear you say your name is John Hardin?” the caller asked.

“Yes.” I replied.

“Are you the John Hardin who calls pot farmers ‘maggots’?”


“I don’t think I ever called them ‘maggots.’” I responded, but I did let him know that I am the “Hardin” who writes for LoCO. That seemed to satisfy his curiosity. I imagine that if I stayed on the line, he would have shared his opinion of my writing, but I had buttons to push and cards to read so I kept the call short. I don’t think he was a fan.


I’ve said a lot of things about growers, but I don’t think I ever called them “maggots.” I can understand why growers might feel like maggots after reading my column, but I don’t think I’ve ever called them that directly. I could be wrong. It’s all out there. If you can find it, I’ll admit it, but I don’t think so.



I know that a lot of people around here don’t like hearing what I have to say. I skim the comments. I even get hate mail on occasion. None of it bothers me. I don’t respond to the comments at LoCO because they pay me to write; they don’t pay me to bicker. Besides, the people who object most vociferously to my work, rarely make points worth responding to. They call me names, accuse me of saying things I did not say, and then they drop the “H” bomb.


“Stop the Hate!” or “What’s with the Hate?” or “Why does LoCO publish Hardin’s Hate Speech?” If I hate anything, I hate prohibition. I hate the War on Drugs. I hate it for how it has effected me, and for what it has done to my friends. I hate the War on Drugs for the economic injustice of it, as well as the criminal injustice of it. I hate the War on Drugs for what it’s done to the American people, and to people around the world. I hate the War on Drugs for what it has done to this country, and I hate what the War on Drugs has done to this community.


I was out there with Jack Herer, in 1990, selling The Emperor Wears No Clothes on the streets of Boston. I helped organize the first Boston Cannabis Freedom Rally that year, and founded Mass Grass, the Newsletter of the Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. I love marijuana, and I think cannabis prohibition is a crime against humanity. OK, I admit it. I hate. I hate the War on Drugs. I hate the War on Drugs almost as much as I love marijuana, but the critique I offer is valid.


I understand that the War on Drugs has been good to some of you, and that many, if not most of you, can scarcely imagine a world without it. I understand, and I sympathize. I tell the truth about the War on Drugs, and sometimes the truth hurts. I might say it in the most provocative and insensitive way possible, but it’s still the truth. That’s what makes it sing, and that’s what makes it sting.


I know that a lot of dope yuppies don’t like to be reminded that it’s not beautiful marijuana, but the ugly injustice of the War on Drugs that puts money in their pockets. I know they’d rather be called “farmers” than “drug dealers,” and that they would appreciate some respect, but I think that there are entirely too many people sucking up to them as it is.


At one time, it was heroic to grow weed out here. Today, it’s heroic not to. Today, we need more heroes in this community, and we aren’t going to grow more heroes by glorifying drug dealers and sucking up to them. We grow more heroes by telling the truth about the War on Drugs. We grow more heroes when we call drug dealers on their bullshit, and we grow more heroes when we honor honest working people with a decent living.


However legalization shakes out, we’ll feel it here, and we can expect significant economic fallout. Competition in the cannabis industry will continue to drive down prices, and profit margins. Lower margins lead to consolidation, consolidation leads to layoffs and unemployment. Even if the legal cannabis industry makes Humboldt its home, it will certainly employ fewer people than it does now, and most of those people will work at fairly modest pay scales.

In this Dec. 27, 2013 photo, employee Lara Herzog trims away leaves from pot plants, harvesting the plant's buds to be packaged and sold at Medicine Man marijuana dispensary, which is to open as a recreational retail outlet at the start of 2014, in Denver. Colorado is making final preparations for marijuana sales to begin Jan. 1, a day some are calling "Green Wednesday." (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

I don’t think I’ve ever called growers “maggots.” I might have said they seem like maggots. I might have said something like, “Growers infest these forested hills the way maggots infest an infected wound on a dying animal.” I might have said something like that, and if I haven’t said it before I’m sayin’ it now. Either way, I say it because it needs to be said.


This community faces serious problems and imminent rapid change that threatens our way of life, our quality of life, and our community. Unless we can face reality, we will never solve anything. We’ll just keep pointing fingers, getting frustrated, and acting ugly, like we’ve done for years, to no avail. This stuff all needs to be said, and I figure, if it needs to be said, I might as well say it.


Landlords Threaten Last Bastion of Hippie Culture in SoHum


The more they try to beautify this town, the uglier it gets. The people with money in Garberville think they can cover up injustice with a fancy new facade, and blot out dysfunction with a fresh coat of paint, but the more they try to cover it up and push it away, the more their ugliness sticks out like a sore thumb. We see it in the hideous orange fence that surrounds the Town Square, excluding everyone from our central commons, and now we see more of it in actions taken against Tigerlilly Books.


Tigerlilly Books, also known as Paul’s Bookstore, at the North End of Garberville is the last surviving hippie business in Garberville. Paul Encimer has been a pillar of this community for decades, and few people have done more to serve the community than he has. In fact, that’s why landlords Childs, Hodges, and Sinoway and their Manager Jenny Edwards say they are evicting him.


In the “Two Week Notice” dated 9/23/16, they claim that Paul is in violation of his lease because “the premises are being used to store and distribute goods other than books.” Further, they demand that he “must not store food, clothing, or items/provisions other than those that relate to a bookstore and not to distribute such items from the premises.” Paul, and his recently deceased wife Kathy, have, for decades, helped match donations to needs in this community, through their bookstore,


…and Paul still maintains a community free box in front of his store. If you have extra coats, blankets, tents or sleeping bags, Paul knows who needs them. Apparently, charity is grounds for eviction in Garberville.


By far the biggest distribution of food that happens at Paul’s Bookstore is the, once-a-month, Mountain People’s Food Buying Club. Members of the club order food from a catalog, at wholesale prices, and once a month, a truck unloads a pallet of groceries in front of the bookstore. The whole club helps unload it and sort it all out. This cooperative community grocery project rose out of the ashes of the long defunct Co-op in Ruby Valley, which Paul was also involved with. The Co-op in Ruby Valley was a central hub of back-to-the-land, hippie culture, back in the day, and when the Co-op went under, that culture retreated to Paul’s Bookstore. Paul doesn’t just run a bookstore, he keeps that culture alive.



Besides being THE place to pick up a book, meet the cool people in town, and catch up on the latest gossip, Paul’s Bookstore has cultural and historical significance. For a short time, after the rednecks killed the Indians and cut down all of the trees, but before the dope yuppies sucked the salmon streams dry, a bunch of idealistic young people, called “hippies,” inspired by new ideas and psychedelic drugs, moved out here to escape the rat race, and to learn to live differently. Those back-to-the-land hippies gave us alternative energy, owner-built homes, composting toilets, organic farming and California sinsemilla. Paul cultivates the last surviving remnant population of “back-to-the-land” hippies in SoHum, at his bookstore in Garberville.


The achievements born from this brief flowering of a creative counterculture stand in stark contrast to the long, dark history of violence, exploitation, and stupidity that otherwise characterize the history of white settlement in this area.


For this reason alone, we should preserve hippie culture wherever we find it, but we’ve been told, time and time again, that hippie culture is the key to our economic future as well. Will we ever learn? Today, hippie culture has all but vanished from the hills, but it still survives at Paul’s Bookstore in Garberville, at least for now.


Paul’s bookstore keeps hippie culture alive, and reminds us of what community looks like. Not only does Paul keep his shelves stocked with the ideas that shape hippie thinking, he also lives up to the ideals of hippie culture. He has opposed every war since Vietnam. He still has the sea turtle costume he wore in the “Battle for Seattle” WTO Protest, and he has chained himself down inside his congressman’s office. Paul has organized free meals, and run emergency shelters. Paul is a fountain of knowledge about hippie culture, community organizing and non-violent resistance, and he’s all too eager to share that knowledge with anyone who’ll listen.


Today, the dope yuppies circle him like sharks. Drug dealers dominate the local culture now, and they bring an entirely different set of values from those of the hippies. Drug dealers don’t care about community. That’s why they became drug dealers in the first place. Drug dealers only care about making money, and drug dealers like to show off their money.




Drug dealers care a lot about their “image” because they can’t talk too much about what they do for a living, and because dealing drugs is a pretty low-status job. So, drug dealers use their money to appear wealthy and sophisticated, and to draw attention away from the the very sleazy nature of their business. It’s the same way with strip clubs and pornography. The marque reads: “Entertainment for the Discerning Gentleman,” only because the sign reading “Live Nude Girls” brought in enough money to renovate the club. They didn’t change what they did for a living, they just changed their image.


Now that a new cadre of greedy, image-conscious, dope yuppies have taken to laundering their money through Garberville’s downtown, they’ve declared war on anyone who doesn’t have the look they’re looking for. They’ve made it clear that they don’t want no commie food club or hippie free box in their town, and they sure as hell don’t want anyone to give food, warm clothes, sleeping bags or tents to people who need them. They want to get as far away from the “hippie” look as possible, and Paul just doesn’t fit into their sharp new upscale image of Downtown Garberville.


It’s not enough that Sohum’s drug dealers exterminate charity in their own heart, they insist on sterilizing the whole town. When they say, “Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t have any services for poor people down here in SoHum,” they say it like it’s a strange coincidence. They should say “We’re greedy pricks here in SoHum. We don’t share, and we like to bully people. If we find you asleep, anywhere in this town, we just might beat you to death with a stick, just for kicks. Not only that, if anyone in this town tries to help you, we will crush them. That’s how little we care and how much we want you gone.”


You can’t build real prosperity from greed, injustice and exploitation, and you can’t escape the poverty created by the War on Drugs. The profits of prohibition are cursed. The skeletons hidden behind the new faux-stone facade going up downtown, and the bodies buried under the Garberville Town Square will haunt this town for generations. Paul’s bookstore on the other hand, stands as a shining beacon of hippie culture, in a vast, dark, violent sea of predators and bottom-feeders. As a community, we can’t afford to lose it.


Hillary V The Donald


I don’t usually write about national politics because the USA seems like a lost cause to me, and following the machinations of the federal government makes my head hurt, but this current presidential campaign has gotten too ridiculous to ignore. It’s almost too ridiculous to make fun of. I still expect Trump to rip off his mask, revealing Andy Kaufman underneath. That’s how unbelievable I find Trump, but no matter who gets elected this November, it’s all downhill from here.


We’ve already gotten used to choosing a lesser of two evils, but this year, the evil runs pretty deep on both sides. On one side we have clever, cunning, and connected evil, vs stupid, rogue, egotistical evil, on the other. Intelligence in the service of evil is formidable. Stupidity defeats itself, and egotism always has a blind side. Do you prefer the deliberate, calculated evil of a team with a proven track record, or do you want reckless, wanton, spontaneous evil? How does one make such a choice? It’s a matter of perspective, I suppose.


Strange things happen when the world falls apart. As the US Empire progresses from decline to collapse, only the denial and bad habits of the American people animate the rotting corpse of democracy. We go through the motions of having an election because it allows us to believe that we have some control over the government, and that it serves us, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As push comes to shove in the New World Order, the question becomes, “Who can manufacture consent?” Increasingly, it looks like the answer to that question is “no one.”


Dissatisfaction with the US government is high right now. Everyone is fed up with the federal government, but instead of abandoning it, and looking for an alternative, too many people want some knight in shining armor to ride in and rescue the princess from the evil dragon. A lot of people thought Bernie Sanders was their knight. Other people see Trump that way, I guess, but pretty much everyone knows that Hillary is there to feed the dragon.


In fact, they’re all there to feed the dragon. Presidential politics is a contest to see who can feed the most people to the evil dragon. Bernie convinced us that he could tame the dragon. Hillary wants to ride the dragon, and Trump wants to be the dragon. It’s still the same evil empire, and the people serve the empire, not vice versa. That’s how empires work, including this one, regardless of what they taught you in school.


For Hillary, it’s like this: Do you want to vote for the Wall St. candidate?  Do you want to vote for the banker’s candidate? Do you want to vote for the medical industry and health insurance industry candidate? Do you want to vote for the candidate supported by the people who have been dissecting you and eating you alive for the last few decades? Fuck no!


Think about it. Sure, Hillary Clinton is, far and away, the most qualified candidate for the job, but the job is bending humanity to the will of our Wall St. overlords.


Maybe we don’t want the best, most qualified person in that position. Maybe we want an incompetent buffoon in the White House, just to give humanity a fighting chance. Maybe we can use Trump’s ego to our advantage. Since all he cares about is his own popularity, he may actually respond to public pressure, Then again, we may not like how he responds.


Trump really took the Republican Party by storm, and it shows. The GOP looks like New Orleans after Katrina. They’re up to their eyeballs in filth. Everything they’ve worked for for the last 160 years, is now smothered in raw sewage, putrefied garbage, and toxic pollution. The fact that he’s surging in the polls is like that hot Louisiana sun, cooking it all up into some scary-ass gumbo. The Republican leadership is afraid to touch it, let alone taste it, but now they’re stranded in it, sitting on the roof of what’s left of their house, trying to decide whether they can get along with those pretentious New York liberals, or get behind that wacko outsider who doesn’t know what “Aleppo” is, rather than hold their nose and dive in to swim with the slime.


On the bright side, for Republicans, I think a Trump presidency could do a lot for the image of previous Republican administrations. For instance: Donald Trump makes George W Bush sound intelligent.


Donald Trump makes Dick Cheney appear reasonable and compassionate.


Next to Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan comes across as deep, and not at all vain,  and Richard M Nixon seems like a nice guy.


Proud Republicans everywhere can thank Trump for that.



So, it seems like a toss-up to me. We can have more of the same,


…or we can have cheeze-doodles in Cool Whip.


I think we should take it as an indication of how fed-up people are with what they are being fed, that cheeze-doodles in Cool Whip looks good to them.



Sizzla, Community Values, and the Mateel

sizzla reggae on the river

I do not enjoy criticizing local nonprofits, but the recent controversy around the the Mateel Community Center’s choice to book “Murder Music” superstar, Sizzla, to headline this year’s Reggae on the River deserves a bit more attention, because it points out some of the pitfalls of importing someone else’ culture rather than developing our own.

we develop culture

I’ve never understood the local fascination with Reggae Music. I love Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. I’ve heard some other reggae music that I liked a lot, but I’ve heard more insipid, preachy, banal and just plain lame reggae music since I’ve moved to Humboldt County than I’ve ever heard before. Listening to the radio around here often reminds me that the global reggae music machine produces plenty of pap that’s every bit as vapid as the American Top 40, as well as religiously themed pop music that rivals Christian Rock, for subtlety and depth.

christain rock

I have deep respect for Rastafarian culture. It’s not my culture, but I respect Rastafarian history, tradition, beliefs, and religion. I know that a lot of people find their strength in Rastafarianism, and I think that’s a beautiful thing, for them. I am not the son of the son of an African slave. I do not live in poverty in a violent ghetto on the outskirts of a tropical resort city built to serve rich white tourists, and I do not know whether Emperor Haile Salassie is the messiah or not, but he doesn’t mean a lot to me personally.

haile salassie

Like Christianity, like Islam, like Judaism, many people take Rastafarianism seriously, and receive a lot of personal strength from it. Like Christianity, Islam and Judaism, Rastafarianism has apparently spawned some embarrassingly popular, if not seriously threatening, fundamentalists. It happens to every religion, it seems. I mean, what’s the point of finding your personal strength, if you can’t use it to whip some non-believer’s ass once in a while?

church malden

Dance hall music star, Sizzla, obviously enjoys tremendous popularity among reggae music fans, in spite of, or perhaps because of, his strong belief that homosexuality is evil. According to Sizzla, homosexuality is so evil that it is OK to kill homosexuals. In fact, he thinks it’s a good idea to kill homosexuals, and he wants to kill homosexuals. We know that he feels this way because he’s written these sentiments into the lyrics of his songs and stated as much on stage.

sizzla attacks gays

A lot of religions have issues with homosexuality, if not sexuality in general. I don’t understand why religions focus so much time and energy on telling people what not to eat and who not to have sex with, but I think it at least partially explains why most of us are not particularly religious, and why the people who cling to religion the most are often people who don’t get enough to eat, and/or don’t have enough sex.

sexual frustration

We all know gay people, if we’re not gay ourselves, and hopefully, all of us know that it’s NOT OK to kill gay people. I’d like to think that’s a community value we all share around here, but you never know what kinds of ideas people nurture in the privacy of their own minds. For instance, if Sizzla were notorious for his calls for violence against bankers, or real estate tycoons, or drug dealers, I wouldn’t be writing this column. Instead, I’d be writing about this great show I just saw, and about an inspiring artist who tells it like it is.

music isnt just sound


Apparently, that’s how reggae fans see Sizzla. His message resonates with people. I don’t get it, but Sizzla’s music means something to a lot of people. He is highly revered in Jamaica not only as a prolific artist, but also as a community leader, and a strong voice in the Rastafarian movement. Many people here in the US want to hear his message too. I don’t understand Sizzla’s appeal any more than I understand his hatred of gay people, but that’s OK.

sizzla ethiopia

There are lot’s of things about lots of cultures that I don’t understand, but I do understand why you might not want to invite Sizzla to play at your community event, especially if you value the gay people in your community. I’m not worried about other cultures; I’m worried about the culture of this community. Here, in Humboldt County, we value gay people. We appreciate the contribution they make to our society, the diversity they bring to our community, and we love them as friends and family. I would think that this would make Sizzla a very poor choice to headline our biggest community event of the year.

Sizzla-ROTR 2016

The Mateel Community Center was well aware of Sizzla’s anti-gay rhetoric. A similar controversy erupted several years ago when a private promoter booked Buju Banton to play at the Mateel Hall. A protest erupted and the show was canceled. At that time Sizzla was already recognized as one of eight reggae artists labeled “Murder Music” for their blatant endorsement of violence against gay people. The Mateel also knew that booking Sizzla would sell a lot of tickets.

reggae on the river poster 2016

As it turned out, Sizzla’s infamous hatred of the LGBTQ community made him an irresistible bargain for any promoter willing to invite him into the US. The Mateel Community Center, working with the few promoters who were willing to weather the inevitable shit-storm of criticism, made it possible for Sizzla to tour the US for the first time in seven years, and he kicked off that tour at Reggae on the River.

homophobia boycott

We smoke as much weed as Rastas, and we have as much hair as Rastas, but we’re not Rastas. We’re Hippies. Remember? We were once a persecuted minority united by a spiritual ideal too, but we believe in free love. We had some other ideals too, but we’re all still pretty much on board with the idea that any kind of sex is cool, so long as everyone involved in it is an adult, and wants it. Our “local culture” remains fairly amorphous, but I feel safe in saying that we’re a fairly sex-positive community. Come to think of it, we might have a more distinct cultural identity if we didn’t try so hard to drown it in imported Jamaican music.

rastafari has no place for hippies

Near as I can tell, weed is the only real connection between Jamaica’s Rastafarian culture and the community of Southern Humboldt. When I talk to people around here about Reggae on the River, they talk about the history of this community, and they talk about the money. They get big dollar signs in their eyes and talk about how much money it brings into the community, how all the schools and fire departments make their budget there, and they talk about how much weed they sell at it. I’ve never heard anyone around here describe it as a religious revival.

get high reggae on river

I’ve been to Reggae on the River, twice, once as a volunteer and once as a vendor. It’s been a while, but I remember that I had fun. I like getting high as much as anyone, and Reggae on the River is all about getting high, or Irie as the Rastas say. I saw a lot of white, middle-class lushes at Reggae, the kind of people you would expect to see at a hippie drug festival, but I also saw a lot of Rastas in the audience, clearly Reggae on the River means something to them too. In fact, Reggae on the River may mean more to them than it means to us, at this point.


Still, this is our community, and we have facilities like the Mateel Community Center, to promote culture, and to promote culture that supports our community values. The Mateel chose Sizzla to headline Reggae on the River because the “Murder Music” stigma made him a bargain, and that bargain made Reggae on the River profitable this year. Apparently greed is our only true community value.

money talks

Maybe values are just more trouble than they are worth. I mean, if wealthy communities like ours can’t afford them any more, and poor communities sharpen them into offensive weapons designed to kill, maybe we’re better off without them. How much different would it be, really? We’d still have plenty of vapid pop music, and tons of drugs. I’ll bet most people would hardly notice the difference.

top concerts long

The Cannabis Casino

weed casino

Last week I wrote about how our failure to address the housing crisis will ultimately force the emerging legal cannabis industry to move elsewhere in search of a reliable workforce, and about why smart growers are getting out of the business now, while the getting is good. One commenter at LoCO, who has since deleted his comment, said he was getting out of the marijuana business, and lamented that after 20 years in the cannabis industry, he had little to show for his efforts. Another commenter expressed shock and wonder that someone could work in the black market marijuana industry for so long without making more money. This commenter obviously had no experience in the marijuana industry.


The truth is, most people who try to make a career of growing marijuana, fare poorly. Growing pot is more like gambling in a casino than working a job. Legal businesses rely heavily on a stable legal system that supports their activity. From criminal penalties for shoplifting to a court system that upholds and enforces contracts, legal businesses only remain reliably profitable, because the threat of government enforcement keeps everyone honest. The black market marijuana industry enjoys no such support, and is made, largely, of people who specialize in evading law enforcement. No one plays by the rules, treachery, deceit and thievery are common, and violence is trump.

trump points up

Some people hit the jackpot in casinos, but most end up losing money, or at best, breaking even. The same is true of the marijuana industry. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the same marijuana industry that brings so much money into Humboldt County, also produces unbearable poverty for far too many of the people who work in that industry. There are no stable, good paying jobs in the marijuana industry. Instead, people gamble with their lives.

marijuana gamble

Here’s something that happens every day, all day, all over the country. It happened recently to a couple of young friends of mine. They got invited to come out here to work on a pot farm, and to trim the weed at harvest time. They both put in a lot of hard work in the hot sun all Summer, weeks and weeks of 16 hour workdays spent trimming weed, and many cold November nights sleeping in soggy dome tents in the rain. By the end of last year, they had saved a good chunk of money, but they knew they could make even more, if they used the money they earned here, to buy marijuana at Humboldt County prices, take it home with them, and sell it at the prevailing price there.

selling weed why the fuck

Unfortunately, they got pulled-over by a cop in a state with less progressive marijuana laws. The cop arrested them, confiscated their weed, and took their money. They spent a week in jail, had to have their parents bail them out, and hired a lawyer. Not only did they lose a year of their lives and everything they earned, they still have to pay hefty fines, legal fees, and spend a year or more on probation, at least.

chain gang

For a while last winter, in their scissor delirium, they thought they were doing pretty well. They went out to dinner once or twice at the Benbow Inn, bought some expensive scotch at the Redway liquor store, and donated money to KMUD. Now they’re broke, in debt, and have a criminal record. This year they’re back to try again, but they are worse off than when they started.

worse off

Something like that story has happened to almost a million people every year, for almost 50 years now, including about 800,000 last year alone. Just because the marijuana industry brings a lot of money here, that doesn’t mean that most of the people in this industry do well at it. Some do, but a whole lot more have the perception that they are doing well, for a short period of time, just like gamblers in a casino, and that feeling makes gambling, and the marijuana industry, addictive.

high steaks gambling

CAMP raids ruined a lot of people’s lives, for decades, even if they never got arrested. If you managed to put together a good year or two, and used the money to put a down-payment on a piece of property, build a house and put in a grow, you probably thought you were doing pretty well. Then, just as your plants approached maturity, helicopters showed up and CAMP smashed your whole operation. As a result of the raid, you lost a whole year’s income. Because you didn’t have the income, you missed your land payment, so you lost your land, the big down-payment you made, all of the annual balloon payments you made before they busted you, and the house you just built. This has happened to hundreds of people here in Humboldt County. Some people have sold the same piece of land, four or five times, to four or five different ambitious young growers, and gotten higher prices each time they sold it because of improvements made by each successive alleged “new owner” before foreclosure.

marijuana helicopter

Cops aren’t the only hazard in this business. Mold, woodrats, mites, deer, elk, gophers and ripoffs can all ruin a crop almost as fast as CAMP. Then there’s fire. Lots of people lose their crop in wildland fires. If the plants themselves don’t burn, they might die because no one could get into the evacuation zone to water them.

fire victim

One friend of mine was doing pretty well. He had acquired land and was building a house. At harvest time, he used the unfinished house as a drying shed for his crop. While drying, some of the weed fell onto a portable propane heater which started a fire that consumed the crop and burned the house to the ground. It devastated him.

destroyed house


Nobody has insurance in this business, and setbacks like this can take years to recover from, if they don’t crush your spirit completely. Some people never recover from setbacks like these. Instead, they fall into alcoholism and/or hard-drug addiction, which become setbacks themselves, which lead to more setbacks. After a few such setbacks, most people are pretty well screwed.

you know youre screwed

Damn near everyone in Humboldt, it seems, is on probation, parole, or has a felony conviction in their past, and our drug addiction rates are through the roof. Far from making us more prosperous as a community, the marijuana industry has become a trap that produces gross income inequity, devastates the natural environment, and unleashes an epidemic of economic refugees while it makes us feel ever more dependent upon it.

weed and money trap

Yes, the black market marijuana industry accounts for a lot of the money that comes into Humboldt County but it also accounts for a lot of the homelessness, poverty and drug addiction we find here too. Like a casino, the War on Drugs makes a few lucky people rich, while it swindles the rest of us with games of chance where the odds are stacked against us, and like a casino, it doesn’t really produce anything, except poverty, social problems, and money. Would you care to place a bet on the future of Humboldt County?

last bets

We Sent an Invitation to “Big Pot”

michele alexander quote

I had a nice chat with Linda Stansberry about “the Greenrush,” and it got me thinking about how ridiculous it is for so-called “Mom and Pop” growers to complain about it. First, it is hilarious to watch people, who made their living, for decades, by evading the law, complain to the Sheriff and ask why he isn’t doing more marijuana eradication. They’ve been completely blindsided. Even they had no idea how big the marijuana industry really was.

attention drug dealers


Second, after all of the wrangling about big grows vs small grows, the terms of the new county medical marijuana ordinance don’t seem to matter nearly so much as the fact that we were the first to adopt one. Because Humboldt County passed the first industry-friendly ordinance, we painted a target on ourselves. While they worked so hard to craft an ordinance that would keep prohibition-era farmers in the game in a legal market, they unwittingly wrote an invitation to every major drug syndicate in the world. We constructed our ordinance with an eye towards keeping out “Big Tobacco,” but we completely forgot about “Big Pot.”

big weed inc

For large-scale black market distributors, Humboldt County’s ordinance offers low-risk vertical integration as well as an opportunity to “go public” when the time is right. Who knew there were so many big fish lurking in the murky waters of the marijuana industry, just waiting to devour Humboldt County. Now we face a feeding frenzy that threatens to displace most of our community. As large distributors take over production, marijuana money will increasingly flow out of the area, while long-term locals fall into poverty and homelessness. Property becomes even more unaffordable, housing even more scarce and good paying jobs go extinct because big distributors cycle through temporary help, none of whom want to live here long-term, rather than hire locals.

hemp temps

Since these operators work the, still strong, global black market, they pay no taxes and ignore regulations, while they suck the rivers dry and level the forest with impunity. They don’t care about this place or the community. They got the invitation and now that they’re here, we’re going to have a hell of a time getting rid of them, especially if we’re not willing to say good bye to the marijuana industry too.

say goodbye


We should have said goodbye to the marijuana industry years ago, back when Anna Hamilton asked us to think about “What’s after pot?” People just couldn’t imagine an “afterlife.” If we had worked as hard to build a diverse economy based on cottage industries, arts and crafts, ecotourism, hospitality, and who knows what else, as we did to expand our marijuana production and lobby for price supporting regulation, we wouldn’t be in this mess. What’s our excuse for not investing our pot money in education, skill building or starting legitimate businesses while we had the chance?

your excuse

Instead, we put all of our eggs in one basket and naively told our Supervisors that we wanted to protect the marijuana industry. So, the Supes passed an ordinance that created another real-estate bubble, and with it, one more opportunity for agents, brokers and appraisers to get obscenely rich, while the rest of us lose our homes, the fish die and our forests become an industrial wasteland. Not only have we failed to protect our livelihood, we’ve insured the destruction of our community and the environment, just because we couldn’t see beyond marijuana, and because we wouldn’t change.

cant see beyond beliefs

Change happens. Either we make change, or change happens to us. We became obsessed with marijuana and money and “marijuana money” as a community, and the more obsessed we got, the more our world shrank. Instead of thinking beyond pot, we decided to become the center of the legal marijuana industry. We asked the Board of Supervisors for an industry-friendly ordinance, because we thought we were the industry. We should be more careful about what we ask for.


Now that we have passed the ordinance, the industry doesn’t really need us anymore, it just wants our land. The people who used to send guys to Garberville to sit in the Humboldt House Inn and buy your weed all day, now send people here to buy property all day, and then send more people and equipment and money to level the forest, sack your homestead and blow-up another mega-grow.

mega grow

Whatever reputation Humboldt County growers have earned, that reputation gets transferred, along with the title of the land, to new owners from all over the world, whether they know how to grow weed or not. One or three (or none) of them may even come out on top of the legal cannabis market, when the dust finally settles, proudly bearing the “Made in Humboldt” label. Several more will quietly amass vast personal fortunes in the these chaotic transitional years. The rest of us, on the other hand, will have to find something else to do. We should have done it years ago, but even at this late stage in the game, the sooner we face it, the better.

before this

A Proposed Cease-Fire


While I’ve greatly enjoyed venting my spleen at SoHum’s Bourgeois, I realize that you don’t all fit so neatly into my broad, and broadly negative, characterizations. I know a lot of you personally, and I know that you like to think of yourselves as basically decent people. Hell, I like to think of you as basically decent people. Why else would I waste my time communicating with you, but I also happen to know that the poor in SoHum are basically decent people, as well, as are nearly all of the of seasonal workers who descend on Southern Humboldt every year to harvest and trim your marijuana.

I didn’t start the class war in Southern Humboldt. I just answered it. I got really sick of seeing the way the middle-class treat the poor and homeless around here, and I got sick of the propaganda campaign in the local media. If the poor and homeless of SoHum were black, you’d call it overt, institutional and brutally violent, racism, but it just happens to be aimed at mostly white people. It’s just as ugly as racism, and just as hateful, but it’s something different. It’s a caste system, a community segregated by class.

caste system

Which strikes me as absolutely ridiculous, because nobody around here has any class. We can’t convince doctors to move here. Why? Not because of the climate, not because we don’t have plenty of natural scenic beauty, not because of traffic, noise or air pollution. Doctors don’t want to live here because no one around here has any class. This is the most low-brow community I’ve ever lived in, and this really ugly, scapegoating attitude towards the poor is just one example of our general vulgarity.

vulgarity periodic table

I understand your frustration. This town doesn’t look the way you would like it to look. You spend a lot of money to have a storefront on Redwood Drive and you want people to see your window display, not five hippies smoking a joint, but getting mad and calling the cops will not solve the problem. The people who hang-out in town live here, work here, and pay taxes here. They have a right to dress as they see fit and carry whatever they like. They can also walk their dog, smoke their cigarette and/or stand on the sidewalk talking to their friends, for as long as they like. None of these things constitute a crime. Now we all pay a special sales tax, Measure Z, so that local merchants can use law enforcement officers as bouncers and treat our public spaces like their own private club, and they’ve passed new laws to criminalize poverty. What an ugly waste of waste and money! It’s time to face reality.


Reality isn’t pretty. The illegal marijuana industry isn’t nearly as benign as we’d like to believe. It creates tremendous economic disparity, and we see it on the streets of Garberville. This industry ruins many times more people than succeed at it. For decades, and still today, cops arrest nearly a million people a year for marijuana. They confiscate and destroy millions of pounds of marijuana every year, and every year thousands of people have their lives turned upside-down, lose their assets, spend time in jail, and/or have their good names besmirched with felony convictions, just to keep the price of marijuana high enough to make the dope yuppie lifestyle possible.


For every winner in this game, there are a lot of losers. You’ve got to figure that a lot of people end up on the street because of the marijuana industry, and you ought to accept that a lot of those people are here. It’s sad, but for a lot of people around here, marijuana is the only life they know. They’re like coal miners in West Virginia. This is all they know, so they come back to it again and again, never acquiring education, never paying into social security and never getting out of Humboldt. That’s one problem, but it’s not much better for honest working people.

coal miner and son

Most jobs in town offer $9-12 an hour. You will never find a place to live in Southern Humboldt that you can afford at that wage, and who can blame people for not working their lives away, just to pay the rent on a room to sleep in. It isn’t a matter of choice. A lot of people have no good options. They are all doing the best that they can, and they all deserve a little dignity and respect.

sleeping in public


In addition to our year-round population, we get a massive influx of seasonal workers every Fall who need low-budget accommodations. We’re going to have hippies. They will bring guitars and drums and dogs and sell stuff on the sidewalk. They will take drugs, smoke weed and drink. This is reality. The vast majority of the people who buy marijuana, sell marijuana and make marijuana are poor. These are your customers, your distributors and your manufacturers. Without them, there would be no marijuana industry, and all of that money you’ve come to depend on, comes from them.


We need to make space for people who are not middle-class, and we need services for people who are not middle-class. I do, genuinely, find the middle-class disgusting, revolting, obnoxious and belligerent. I don’t like seeing them on the streets, and I find them intimidating. I can’t stand the way they smell and I despise the air of entitlement they carry, but If I saw one meaningful action, something I, as a member of this community, could take some civic pride in, just one meaningful action that would make life a little easier for the people who are struggling, economically, and dealing with difficult situations, in Southern Humboldt, I could put aside those petty differences, at least for a while, and talk about some of the very positive things going on here in Southern Humboldt. 10 Bonus Points if it happens before the trimmigrants get here.

homeless in garberville