Category Archives: drugs

Dime Bag Day 2016

dime bags day Humboldt county

Lemonade Day is coming up this Saturday June 4th. Have you heard of Lemonade Day? Lemonade Day was designed to teach kids about capitalism and running their own business by encouraging them open a lemonade stand. They’ve had Lemonade Day in the northern part of the county for a few years now, but our 2nd District County Supervisor Estelle Fennell introduced me to a woman named Lynette who told me that they received a $3,000 grant to help get Lemonade Day off the ground in Southern Humboldt.

lemonade day_humboldt

How about that! I never made anything like $3,000 from all of my childhood lemonade stands put together. Maybe we should have Grant Writing Day instead. Certainly more people around here make their living by working for non-profits than do by selling lemonade.

lemons to lemonade

 

Then Brian Elie told me a story of an inspiring young entrepreneur. I don’t know his name, and I’m sure I wouldn’t use it if I did, but Brian showed me a picture of a rather pissed-off looking young man, about 20 years old, with a shaved head wearing a white, wife-beater T-shirt. I didn’t recognize the kid in the picture.

shaved head wbt

 

“He hit me!” Brian exclaimed, and proceeded to tell me about this young go-getter. One day recently, as Brian approached his office, behind the bagel shop in Garberville, he noticed this young man involved in what appeared to be a drug transaction, behind his office. Brian said he yelled at the kid: “Hey, don’t do that around here!” to which the kid replied “Fuck You Asshole!” Then, Brian said he saw a cell phone laying on the ground. He picked it up. That’s when the kid attacked Brian physically, and slugged him. I guess it was the kid’s phone.

cell phone on ground

The cops eventually caught the kid, and sent Brian the photo, to see if Brian recognized his assailant. He did. Brian said that all of the text messages on the phone were notes like “I ned n 8th.” Can you believe it? That kid was hustling nickle bags of weed in Garberville! That’s like selling bottled water to a drowning man. “What a spunky young businessman.” I thought.

bottled water

Then I thought to myself, “Where would this community be without thousands of energetic, self-motivated young men, just like the one Brian told me about, who work so tirelessly, all across this country, to sell the product for which Humboldt County is so well known?

need-some-bud

I’ll bet a good percentage of Humboldt County’s successful businessmen began their career as one of those young men. It must take an enormous army of resourceful, motivated young street dealers to insure that every Jr. High and High School student in America has access to Humboldt County’s most famous export. Yes, this community owes its prosperity to the hard work, determination and can-do spirit of young entrepreneurs just like the kid who punched Brian Elie in the face, outside of his office.

hey man wanna buy some weed

All over this country, every day, nice people like Brian get cursed at, punched and worse, by the wonderful people who work so hard to make this community prosperous. Talk about aggressive marketing! As the price of cannabis continues to fall, marketing will only become more important. That’s why, here in Southern Humboldt, we need to rethink Lemonade Day.

rethink your drink

The Lemonade Stand is cliche and passe. Nobody around here makes money on lemonade, but more than 500 families in SoHum have made more than a million dollars each, thanks to an army of drug-dealing street thugs just like that enterprising young man who slugged Brian Elie. You can find them operating in every single town in America.

drug thug

Besides destroying communities and terrorizing neighborhoods, every year, an alarming number of this tremendously successful marketing team die violent deaths well before their time. More still find themselves incarcerated, serving long, work-related, prison sentences. I cannot stress how important it is to the economy of Humboldt County that children growing up today learn the skills they need to fill those empty shoes. That’s why I encourage all of you to join me in making this Saturday June 4, the first official Dime Bag Day in Southern Humboldt.

dime bags of pot

Here’s how it works: If you grow weed, you can sponsor a child on Dime Bag Day by fronting them an ounce of pot. The child then takes the marijuana home, splits it up into quarter, and eighth-of-an-ounce bags, and decides how much to charge for them. By doing this, children learn about math and fractions, weights and measures, materials costs and profit margins. Then on Saturday, June 4th, all of the kids come to town and try to sell their weed. Anyone can participate, and we encourage everyone to come out and support the kids.

support dealers of tomorrow

This Saturday, on Dime Bag Day, if a kid comes up to you and offers to sell you some weed, say “Yes, Please.” Even if you have plenty of weed, or don’t smoke weed at all, buy some weed from a kid on the street on Dime Bag Day. We want these kids to have a positive experience, and for this early success to bolster their confidence. Just give them your money, and try not to haggle too much about the price. Don’t make them bust a cap on your ass.

bust a cap1

This is a great opportunity to teach kids about business and how the economy really works, so get the whole family involved in SoHum’s first Dime Bag Day. Your kids will learn the value of a dollar, gain valuable business experience, and get a taste of the exciting fast-paced life of a street dealer. They’ll also give those Lemonade Day sucka’s something to spend their hard-earned money on.

sucka


Seed ’em for Freedom

seedy bud

The other day, I found myself stuck behind two, empty, 25 yd dump trucks, returning to Redway, waiting for two more 25 yd dump trucks, full of soil, to clear the one-lane bottleneck in the middle of the redwood grove between Lower Redway and Ruby Valley on Briceland Rd. Between the four of them they completely engulfed that remarkable fragment of ancient forest in a thick cloud of diesel exhaust. Ah, the smell of a Spring day in the forests of Humboldt County.

on a clear day

I must have passed two dozen trucks, of various sizes, loaded with soil, or components thereof, in my sixteen mile trek into town. It reminded me of fire season, with soil trucks instead of firetrucks. You can literally watch our roads crumble beneath their weight. Meanwhile, the forests echo with the crass flatulence of chainsaws, bulldozers and ATVs all day, and the endless roar of generators, that fuel the UFO-like glow of brightly lit greenhouses, all night.

ufo like glow

This is crazy! I love marijuana as much as the next guy, but it’s not worth destroying the planet over, and it’s not worth destroying Humboldt County over, either. It’s just pot, for God’s sake. If it weren’t for prohibition, you could hardly give the stuff away. If our pot had seeds in it, weed would be sprouting up everywhere by now, and everyplace in the country would have its own variety, adapted to the local environment and local tastes.

cannabis sprouts

Pot doesn’t need special soil. I once found a fully mature sinsemilla plant growing in the expansion groove of a sidewalk in downtown Akron, OH. Thousands of people must have trampled on that plant over the course of the Summer. No one watered it, fertilized it, or mulched it. No one brewed tea for it, dusted it’s roots or sprayed it with neem oil, and no one strung lights over it, turned a fan on it or put a heater near it. It grew there, all on it’s own. Why? Because pot used to have seeds.

pot seeds hand heart

Weed should be as common as blackberries, and as full of seeds. No one should ever get shot over it, go to jail for it, or fork over a days wages just to enjoy a taste of it. By the same token, no one in their right mind would bulldoze a forest, trash a truckload of plastic film and sink a lot of money into soil and amendments, thinking they were going to get rich off of it, either. Our entire cannabis industry is built on the lunacy of prohibition. It was born crazy, and it’s only gotten crazier.

crazy twice

We shouldn’t build on prohibition. We should end prohibition. We shouldn’t white-wash the black market. We should end the injustice of it and let nature take its course. We can replace the trucks and the soil and the generators and the lights and the pollution and the growers and the dealers and the cops and the lawyers and the prison guards and the laws and the prisons and the money with the gentle motion of the breeze and a card on an album cover. Pot for the people, period. Anything less is a graceless scam that needlessly destroys habitat, generates pollution and creates poverty.

pollution and poverty

A lot of people around here have no appreciation for this place at all. They measure everything in dollars, so they know the price of everything, and the value of nothing. They know that the price of marijuana is high, all over the country, right now, and the risk of going to jail for growing a lot of it here in Humboldt County, is low, and that was all they needed to know about Humboldt County.

greenrush1

Salmon streams and old-growth forests don’t interest them one bit. Deer, bear, raccoon, skunks, gophers, rats and mice all fall under the category of: “pests,” and the rest of the community of life is just “roadkill,” dead stuff that got in the way. For them, regulations serve no purpose. To them, regulations are nothing more than bureaucratic “red tape” to be avoided, resisted, and opposed politically, rather than complied with, and because of them, regulations will not protect wildlife, preserve habitat or even insure our rural quality of life. Regulations won’t stop this madness. Regulation created this insanity in the first place, and new, more or better regulations will only make things worse. This is a concocted problem with a natural solution.

natural solution

If you love living in the forest, and you’re sick of the green-rush, grow some seedy pot this year. Let a patch of your favorite seed-stock go feral on your land. Seed ’em for Freedom! Seed ’em for Freedom, because it’s the only way we’ll ever really put prohibition behind us. Seed ’em for Freedom to put cannabis in the hands of the people who need it the most, and wrench it from those who would rather destroy the world first, and Seed ’em for Freedom because seeds are life, and life knows what it’s doing.

life knows surrender

 


My Impressions of 2nd District Candidates Debate in Garberville

bud rogers v estelle fennell t

What planet is Estelle Fennell from? She sure isn’t from anywhere near Southern Humboldt, that much was apparent at last Wednesday’s 2nd District Candidates Debate. Bonny Blackberry’s Rights Monitoring Project hosted the debate, and Bonny Blackberry herself moderated the event. She still calls her organization the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project, but if you’ve listened to her radio show on KMUD lately, you know that Bonny Blackberry doesn’t really care much about people’s rights anymore.

screw your bill of rights

Back during the War on Drugs, I used to think the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project was one of KMUD’s best shows, a unique shining example of what community radio should be. Bonny challenged the police and held them to account. She stood up against profiling, invasive surveillance, illegal searches, and code enforcement inspections. She taught people how to invoke their rights, preserve their rights and demand their rights. She helped this community hold the police state at bay, and her work made a huge difference in how the cops around here treated people.

clmp

Not any more. Lately, Bonny just whines about the Supervisors and the Sheriff not doing enough to protect the income of so called “Mom and Pop” growers. It’s about time she changed the name of the show, or better yet, took it off the air to make room for something else. We need a good show about civil rights around here, that’s for sure, but it’s a shame to see the CLMP show go so lame, and I’m afraid it’s time to put it out of its misery.

Let's Put This Out of its Misery

That said, I do appreciate that Bonny put together this forum so we could hear the two candidates competing to represent us on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. Side by side, in a room full of SoHum people, the contrast was remarkable. We have a unique culture here in Southern Humboldt. We look at the world differently, and we think differently. We look at the world differently, and we think differently, because we smoke the best weed in the world, all day long, every day, or at least we did, for long enough. For all of our many differences, cannabis unites us, enlightens us, and makes us who we are.

goodbuds

Which leads me to wonder: Where is Estelle from? Even during her long tenure as the voice of KMUD’s Local News, Estelle sounded so unlike anyone else I’ve met in SoHum that I could scarcely believe the News was really local. I knew that the stuff she reported happened around here, but I didn’t know anyone around here who talked like her. Listening to Estelle at Wednesday night’s debate reminded me of her days as KMUD’s news anchor.

estellefennell kmud news

On the News, Estelle spoke in complete sentences built for efficiency. There were no flowery hippie colloquialisms, no Rastafarian religious references, no expletives or imitation ghetto slang in her reports. She asked relevant questions and sometimes even follow-up questions. No one around here does that, and no matter how many strange occurrences she reported, Estelle never suggested that the freemasons, Jewish bankers, the Catholic Church, Skull and Bones, the CIA, FBI, aliens, or even an alignment of celestial bodies was responsible. Who was she protecting?

protecting

More importantly: Who was she working for? Estelle lost her job at KMUD because of her blatantly slanted coverage of the Reggae Wars. Estelle went to the mat for crooked concert promoter Carol Bruno, in an embarrassing, unsuccessful attempt to quell public outrage over the fact that Bruno had just swindled the Mateel Community Center out of a quarter of a million dollars. Estelle’s hidden agenda only became too obvious to ignore when she dove deep into the muck in that last ditch effort to save Momma Moneybags.

carol bruno

I told you last week what I thought of Journalism. Well, the only people who lie more than journalists, are lawyers and politicians. Estelle decided to skip law school. Instead she found a new puppet master in a cadre of greedy developers who used their money and her slick low-key delivery to take over the Board of Supervisors.

hum cpr lee estelle

Once there, she helped them secure gigantic subsidies for their McMansion developments, and raised taxes on the poorest people in the county to pay for it. Then she screwed over the back-to-the-landers, who put her in office in the first place, and sold out to greedy mega-grow greenrushers, giving them a green light to destroy the environment and ruin our quality of life with the recently passed medical marijuana ordinance.

med mj ordinance

That’s her record. She’s a liar for hire, and just like when she worked at KMUD, she draws a paycheck from us all, but she only really works for the ones who pull the strings. She’s been playing the rest of us for rubes for decades. Why would she stop now?

why stop now

Bud Rogers, on the other hand, revealed himself as a true man-of-the-people at last Wednesday’s debate. His sentences may run on for weeks without reaching conclusion, but you can tell by listening to him that Bud Rogers smokes a lot of really good weed. We need someone who smokes a lot of good weed on the Board of Supervisors. The Supervisor from the Second District should have a bong on his desk (I know I would). We should insist that our Supervisor use it, religiously, before every meeting.

jesus bong

It’s hard to lie convincingly when you are stoned. Most stoners are too lazy to even try. That’s the beauty of cannabis. Cannabis reminds you that telling the truth is easier than lying. We should insist that the 2nd District Supervisor get absolutely wrecked on some of SoHum’s best cannabis before every Supervisors meeting, just to keep them honest. Bud Rogers could handle it. You know he could.

bud rogers crop

 

We need more Bud on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. We need an honest stoner to represent Southern Humboldt. If you don’t smoke weed every day, all day, you have no business representing this community. You just don’t get it. You’re not one of us. Bud Rogers is one of us.

one of us

Like you, Bud Rogers smokes a lot of really good weed. Like you, Bud Rogers loves living in the woods. He doesn’t want to go to the courthouse in Eureka any more than you or I do, but unlike you and me, Bud Rogers is willing to drive to that goddamned courthouse every fucking week, and listen to everybody’s complaints, and do his level best to make the best sausage possible for the people of Southern Humboldt, because he cares about us, and he cares about this place.

della reese quote

Bud has graciously made this sacrifice for the people of Southern Humboldt because no one else would step up to the plate. You can tell by listening to him how much Bud loves this community, and he doesn’t like what’s been happening around here with Estelle in the driver’s seat. None of us do. We’re sick of the mega-grows and the generators and don’t like the new ordinance that encourages them. We’re sick of the war against the poor, and endless hand-wringing about our lack of housing, and we’re sick of greedy land developers pulling the strings of our elected representative in Eureka.

puppet-master-

We need Bud Rogers now more than ever. It’s time we put one of our own in the 2nd District Supervisors seat, instead of some slick-talking alien with a hidden agenda. With Bud Rogers in the Supervisors seat, SoHum will never again be taken unawares by Annunaki lizard people bent on enslaving humanity. Bud Rogers is hip to their M.O. He knows who’s seeding the clouds and he recognizes the secret handshake of the New World Order. Don’t let anyone tell you that these are not concerns for the County Board of Supervisors. The Illuminauti work at every level, and Bud Rogers is the only candidate willing to face their looming menace.

illuminati

I don’t know why, but I just feel the spirits calling Bud to shake off the old paradigm and lead our consciousness to a whole new spiritual level. Like the Lion of Judah, Bud Rogers will smite the lies of Babylon with righteous herb and bring peace, justice and freedom to Jah people of SoHum. Shit man, you gotta vote for Bud bro, he’s your homeboy. However you say it, Bud Rogers is the best choice we have for 2nd District Supervisor, and it’s up to us to give him the job.

outside the box

You still have time to register for the June 7 election.

register to vote


Did You Celebrate Earth Day?

Celebrate Earth-Day

Did you celebrate Earth Day last Friday? Me neither, and I don’t blame you a bit for letting it slip by. Earth Day has quickly become our most depressing holiday. A lot of people find Christmas depressing, especially if they spend it alone. Memorial Day is a real bummer, if you lost friends or loved ones in a war, but compared to Earth Day, these quaint celebrations seem naively joyous.

memorial day sad

Even if you think of Christmas as the mythical origin of the Christian tradition of clerical sex abuse, and Memorial Day as a glorification of technological warfare, which I do, the blackness of Earth Day overshadows them all. Earth Day is more like Good Friday, except that there’s no Easter to follow it up. For people who believe in science and technology, democracy and civilization, Earth Day is a day to observe the crucifixion of their savior, in real time. Nobody wants to see that.

Crucifixion-9841-2203

Earth Day didn’t start out as a depressing holiday. When we first established Earth Day, we thought that a day to celebrate the environment would help us re-prioritize our values and change our culture to meet the challenges of the looming crisis. Those were hope-filled times. We were all really high on LSD, and we thought we could do anything if we just celebrated it enough.

hippy on lsd woodstock

Forty years later, we can’t say “We didn’t know.” Today, the truth stares us in the face. We know we’re killing the planet. We know that we’re destabilizing the future, and we know that it’s killing us, but we don’t know how to stop. Forty years ago we had some ideas about how we could apply the brakes, and turn things around, perhaps even before it was too late. Today, we’re out of ideas. Nothing we’ve tried works. We’ve won a few battles, but we’re still losing the war, and losing it faster than ever. A recent survey estimates that we’ve lost half of the Earth’s biodiversity since the first Earth Day.

threats to biodiversity

 

Not only have we failed to stop the environmental destruction, we’ve failed to slow its acceleration. We have failed, as a culture, to meet our most pressing existential threat. Knowing is not enough. Understanding does not help, and the more we know, the more we realize that it’s worse that we feared, and harder to change than we ever imagined. Against the hard truth of the environmental crisis, the myths of our culture unravel like a cheap sweater.

sweater unravels stars

Today, we can look back on the whole history of civilization since the agricultural revolution, and project forward our global environmental impacts. From this perspective, we can see, pretty clearly, I’m afraid, that the costs of civilization far outweigh the benefits. What’s worse, the benefits of civilization lie mostly in the past, while the costs of civilization loom large over our future. After centuries of secular skeptical scientific inquiry and bold technological innovation, the only thing we know for sure is that everything we know about how to live on planet Earth is wrong.

everything you know is wrong

How do you turn that into a holiday? …that doesn’t make you want to kill yourself? Some people still do the Earth Day festivals, but, you know, any excuse for a party. So go ahead, enjoy the music,

earth-day-on-the-national-mall

eat the organic veggie hippie food,

watermellon

shop for fair-trade, creatively recycled handicrafts…

recycled handicraft

…and try not to think about it too much, because, believe me, you don’t want to know.

'Do not look within. Trust me, you don't want to know what's in there.'

We don’t need another depressing holiday to remind us of how we’ve failed as a culture. We need to pick a day to take back our lives from the economic machine that consumes us all, and the environment around us. We need a global Day Off, just to remember what life is all about, and if people like having a Day Off, just to enjoy life, maybe we can stretch it to a week.

take a week off tree


An Open Letter to Willie Nelson

Dear Willie,

willie nelson norml

I write to you today on behalf of marijuana smokers across the US, of which I am one, and on behalf of my community here in Humboldt County, California. I write to you because I read recently that you intend to market, or at least license your name to, a brand of cannabis products. I’m glad to hear it. I wish you enormous success on your new endeavor, and look forward to trying your weed.

WilliesReserve-

I know that you’ve been working for legalization since at least the Carter administration.

willie nelson jimmy carter

I’ve been working for it for a long time too.

me

Now that it looks like we have finally done it, here in California, the people who profited so much from marijuana prohibition, politicians and black market drug dealers, are working together to keep marijuana expensive through excessive regulation and taxation.

babylon bucks

This policy of high taxes and anti-competitive regulation insures that the black market for cannabis remains strong because cannabis in the legal market stills costs more than it does on the street. The black market for cannabis is destroying my community, not to mention some of the last great forests in the lower 48. We have grown pot for a long time here in Humboldt County. However, the recent dramatic expansion in cannabis cultivation here, has had serious impacts on spotted owl habitat, endangered Coho salmon and the Pacific fisher, not to mention the quality of life for the people who live here.

endangered in Humboldt County

The black market economy has had a corrosive effect on my community. The black market for marijuana has the effect of devaluing all other forms of work. Kids here expect to grow up to become drug dealers, like their parents, and they start young. This creates special challenges for our public school systems. Violent crimes, like home invasion robbery, murder, and violent assault have become commonplace in our small rural community, and we have some of the highest suicide and drug overdose rates in the state. Despite the supposed “economic benefit”of the black market marijuana industry, it produces a very deep kind of poverty in this community.

get the fuck out

Sure, there’s more money around town, thanks to the black market, but that money mostly goes into the pockets of the very worst people, and the promise of black market money brings more of these greedy bottom-feeders to Humboldt County every day, where they chop down trees, poison wildlife and convert local housing into grow operations in order to coldly exploit marijuana prohibition in the rest of the country. Believe me, the money that the War on Drugs has brought to Humboldt County has done more harm than good, and the harm the black market marijuana industry does to this community is expanding at an astronomical rate.

pot farms destroys forest

 

Humboldt County became a popular place to grow marijuana because of its remoteness, and because of the cover the forest provided. Today, drug dealers from all over the country come here to grow weed, but thanks to our work to legalize cannabis, they no longer need to hide under the forest canopy. They know that here, the county government loves their money, the Sheriff will ignore them, and that we have the infrastructure to supply them with all of the soil, fertilizer and grow supplies they need. However, the land here is steep, heavily forested and very poorly suited to agriculture. Marijuana farmers use incredibly wasteful production methods, and our remote location makes everything here more expensive. There’s no reason you couldn’t grow pot that was every bit as good as we grow here, for a hell of a lot less money, somewhere else.

cannabis-farm

That’s why I’m writing to you today, Willie. We have turned the tide in the War on Drugs, and we have forced the politicians to change the laws, but politicians and drug dealers remain as greedy as ever. We can’t let them continue to rip-off pot smokers. Pot smokers deserve deserve a break after all of these years, and it’s time for the legal business community to serve cannabis consumers with safe, reliable cannabis products at prices that put black market dealers out-of-business.

drug-prohibition

Pot is not difficult to grow. I’ll bet you could grow a hell of a lot of it in Texas, and I’ll bet you could grow it cheaper there, than we can here, even if you have to haul your water all the way from Louisiana. This nation needs weed, Willie, and Americans need reliable cannabis that they can afford. Thus far, the licensed legal growers in Washington, Colorado and Oregon have not begun to quench this nations’ thirst for cannabis. As cannabis becomes more reliable and accepted, the demand will likely rise as well. Also, as the price of cannabis falls, the demand will increase as people devise imaginative new ways to use cannabis. What that means, Mr. Nelson, is that this nation needs an enormous amount of weed, and we are counting on you and your company to produce it for us.

willie_nelson_better america

I know that you might feel tempted to smoke another joint and think about this for a while, but my community needs relief today. We need to stop this disease now, before it wipes out the last wild salmon, before it drives the spotted owl to extinction and before the last Pacific fisher dies of rodenticide poison. What’s more, we need to drive this insatiable greed out of our midst before we lose any more of our community to the War on Drugs.

no drug causes the fundamental ills of society

You have the opportunity to make a LOT of money for you and your investors, create jobs for American workers, and make marijuana affordable for the people who need it most. At the same time, you would save our environment, my community, and put violent drug cartels and greedy criminal gangs out of business. We should have done this back when Carter was president, but we absolutely need this ASAP, PDQ and NOW!

asap pdq now

It shouldn’t cost as much to sit on the front porch and smoke a doobie while you strum your old guitar, as it does to go out to a bar and have a couple of beers. American workers should not have to work an extra day each week, just to pay for the pot it takes for them to enjoy a joint at the end of a long day at work. Americans need the stress relief that cannabis provides, and they don’t need the extra stress of ridiculously high, prohibition-era prices, when they can barely keep a roof over their head and food on their plate as it is.

american workers struggle

When we started fighting for the legalization of marijuana, it wasn’t because we wanted drug dealers to be able to legitimize their illegal profits. We worked to legalize marijuana because we love marijuana and we don’t think that anyone should go to jail for it. The American people deserve marijuana, and after all that marijuana smokers have been through because of prohibition, we deserve safe, reliable, high-quality marijuana at a price we can afford. I hope you can make that happen, Willie, before it’s too late for my community.

Make-it-happen-

Sincerely, John Hardin

jh at bfr crop

 


Robert “Woods” Sutherland, of HumMAP, Talks About the Lawsuit Against Humboldt County

hummap

The Greenrush is on in Humboldt County. The forests echo with the rude belches of chainsaws, bulldozers and generators that terrorize wild animals, ruin our quality of life and decimate delicate forest ecosystems. While local environmental groups appease the greedy greenrushers with compliance workshops, water tank loans and “best practices” handbooks, one group of local growers, the Humboldt Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project, or HumMAP has said “Enough is enough!” Instead of jumping on the greed-wagon, HumMAP is suing Humboldt County over their newly adopted, broadly permissive, commercial marijuana ordinance.

new strain

HumMAP is suing the county to protect our community, preserve our wild forest habitat, and secure our economic future. More than just an organization of growers, HumMAP represents a broad cross-section of the Southern Humboldt community, and is made of people who have chosen to live here and build this community, rather than pursue money for its own sake. To them, this place, and this community are worth more than money, and through this lawsuit, they hope to protect the environment they live in, and the community they’ve worked so hard to build. I talked with HumMAP spokesperson, Robert Sutherland, aka Man who Walks in the Woods, or “Woods” for short, about HumMAP, and the lawsuit they filed against the county:

thoreau quote

Hardin: When did you first come to Humboldt County?

Woods: I first came to Humboldt County in 1968, but I didn’t mover here full-time until 1973.

Hardin: So you’ve been here for a while.

Woods: Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. I’m pleased. I’m not pleased by a lot of the things that have happened here more recently.

Hardin: …but you still like living here.

Woods: Yeah.

Hardin: How did HumMAP get started.

Woods: Well a woman by the name of Anna Hamilton organized it, and it was well attended in it’s first couple of meetings. I would say there were a couple of hundred people maybe, but the group included everyone interested in marijuana, including big growers and little growers. So, there was a lot of internal warfare that developed within the organization and finally it came down to the small organic growers, the Mom and Pops of our history. In the end, it was the people who had passed up many opportunities to be “razzle dazzle money people.”

Hardin: What do you mean, “razzle dazzle money people?”

Woods: Well, even way back when, there were individuals who were among us, but were not of us. They were here to max out on making money off of marijuana, and did it in a ruthless way. Those are the people who became models for a different element in our community, that I for one, have very little respect for. It wasn’t just newcomers, it is also to a large extent, children of the original growers who never had a chance to learn the kind of values that brought people here. They didn’t have the (role) models that the original back-to-the-landers did.

Hardin: Pot is one of those things that helps people find those values. How do people grow so much marijuana without ever discovering them?

Woods: Well that’s a complicated question. There’s more than one aspect to that. First of all, (smoking) marijuana is a way of saying that the values that society has tried to force down people’s throats, are not the values that people find coming from their hearts. So marijuana is kind of an adamant way of saying “No, those traditional values are not my values!” So that’s a positive side to it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go deep enough, because what they should really see is that it’s the door to their heart, and to get into your heart doesn’t require marijuana, that’s for sure. Using marijuana is not a problem if you don’t get stuck on it. You do have to go beyond whatever marijuana shows you to be a real person in your own right.

Hardin: So, the county just went through a long involved process to adopt a new medical marijuana ordinance. You were pretty much involved with that whole process. What was it like, and how did it go?

Woods: That process reaches back a lot further than most people realize. For example, the longest serving member of the Board of Supervisors is Mark Lovelace. However, before he was ever on the board, I was making presentations to the Board of Supervisors about what direction the marijuana industry should go in. HumMAP, and others, before the existence of HumMAP, tried to present a sane, healthy, vision of an economic future for our county. We drafted an ordinance. You never hear about it. It was a fine ordinance, I think, however the only ordinance you’ve probably heard about is the one CCVH, California, Cannabis Voice Humboldt drafted and gave to them.

The differences primarily had to do with fact that the group had enormous amounts of money available, and used it to pay lobbyists. People who had close ties to the Supervisors were hired to lobby for how they thought the legislation should go, and the way they thought the legislation should go, featured great big grows and was oriented towards greedy profits, and they were able to prove their intent by the amount of money they were able to shell out. So, we were talking about an interesting contrast. Nobody even heard about our, carefully put together, proposal for an ordinance, which was actually thrashed out over a long period of time, by a lot of people, arguing hour after hour, and defining down what concepts were healthy what weren’t. It was a fine ordinance, yet, because these people were not greed growers, they couldn’t put money forth to the Board of Supervisors like the other group that got great publicity did. So that’s an early start on the whole process. That maybe fills in a little bit of stuff that maybe you haven’t been aware of.

Hardin: That’s great. Could you give us an idea of what was in that draft ordinance that you folks drafted, and how it differed from the one CCVH put forward?

Woods: For one thing, there was a provision, I forget what we called it, but a council. The marijuana industry, obviously, to anyone who thinks about it, is very complex. It’s not only very complex, but it is continuously changing, not just the price of marijuana, but the ways in which it’s grown and many other features, legalities and whatnot. So we were proposing that there be a council set up, kind of like the Board of Forestry, to continually suggest changes that need to be made and details that needed to be threshed out better, and I think that’s still an idea who’s time has come.

I think the state legislation is very flawed. I think that our ordinance is pretty darned good in a lot of ways, and I think that Mendocino’s ordinance is far better than even the one put forward by Humboldt, so I think we’re maturing in (seeing) what needs to be done. I’m sorry to say that I don’t think everything in the Humboldt ordinance was done with wisdom and I suppose that if I speak from my heart, that’s one thing that disturbs me a little about it, but of course, the nature of politics tends to be that way. It’s just that what we are talking about here is the future of our county, and the future of the people in our county, and to me, those are weighty considerations.

Hardin: Maybe you could talk a little about what the marijuana industry was like in the ’80s, and how it changed to what’s going on now.

Woods: Well there was a vast difference, a vast vast difference. One thing, people grew for themselves, and when you grow for yourself, you grow for quality. (chuckles) You want the good stuff. You want stuff that’s healthy for you, and that guides you in the direction that you want to go with it, and so the marijuana industry arose in this way: Let’s say I had a good year, and where I was hoping to get two pounds, I actually got four pounds. Well, my friends in the city really appreciated getting it. That’s where the marijuana industry began.

You have to remember, the County was very hostile to the hippies moving in here. They tried to crush them. They tried by denying them the rights to have permits for their homes and their properties. They were very nasty. There’s some pretty horrendous stories of what the sheriff did in those days, and so people had trouble surviving economically. I think actually, one of the major motivations was to be able to keep your children off of welfare. That is why people started growing a little extra marijuana, so that they would be able to have the income, not to vacation in Bali, not to drive a BMW, but to be able to keep their kids off of welfare. That is a core of the history of our region.

Hardin: How is that different from what’s going on now?

Woods: What’s going on now is greed. What’s going on now is growing money. When you start focusing on profits, you not only want to maximize (profits), you also want to reduce risk, and risk management is the nature of management for money. So, (you have) mites, spray. Arguments with workers, fire ’em. Need more sunlight, cut down trees. Need water, pump it right our of the creek, on and on and on. These are value differences that are very significant. So, we’re talking about a difference between valuing marijuana, vs. valuing money, and we live in a culture which is extremely oriented to greed. Money counts for everything now.

You have to remember that marijuana was made big, in the whole western world, primarily by the hippies, and the hippies made it big because it was a matter of principle. The hippies stood for principle. They stood against racism. They stood against war, and they stood against greed. This marijuana, I well remember, and others do to, was an issue of principle. It’s not an issue for greed. We have to take a stand against this growing greed in America. This is all part of what we have to do as responsible individuals to have a healthy nation and to have a healthy world. We have to take a stand against greed. We have to take a stand against destroying the environment. We have to take a stand in honoring our fellow living creatures in the world.

Hardin: Why did you file the lawsuit?

Woods: There was a lack of care taken in certain aspects of drafting this ordinance that we’re living under. This lawsuit addresses that fact. I will put it to you through an example. The Board of Supervisors contemplated certain of the environmental values concerned with this proposed industry, not in terms of those values, but with regard to whether they were going to get sued over not adequately respecting those values, and so they set up solutions that were not respectful of those values, but were respectful only of cheap political deals, in the hope of not being sued.

That’s important because, for example, let’s talk about generator noise. The Dept of Fish and Wildlife testified to the Planning Commission that 28db is already too much noise for spotted owls and marbled murrelets tolerate. That’s pretty quiet, and so the Board of Supervisors set the limit at 60db, much louder, because 60db is what would, arguably, disturb your neighbor. So, there’s no real recognition that wildlife is more sensitive to sound in the woods than human ears are. This is really important because the spotted owl, for example, hunts by sound. It listens for the tiny noises that a mouse, moving through the grass, makes. Spotted owls are a threatened species. We have a large population of them here in Humboldt County, so this could have a very big impact on the future of the spotted owl.

Now, in the ordinance, they tacked on, at the last minute, and which nobody got to review carefully, they said, “Oh, if there’s spotted owls or marbled murrelets, then we can just adjust the sound levels.” Well, these are ministerial permits, and under a ministerial permit, it’s a permit by right. In other words, when they say: “Well, to have this permit, you have to do A, B, C and D.” If you go in there and you say, “Yeah, I’ve done A, B, C and D,” you get a permit. You have a right to a permit! They don’t have the right to say “Well, did you check for spotted owls? What do you know about spotted owls?” They don’t have the discretion to ask those kinds of questions. They’re obligated under law to issue that permit. So we have 11,000 outdoor grows in Humboldt County. The huge majority of which are entitled, under the new ordinance, to ministerial permits. What does that mean for the spotted owl? It means that the provisions that the Board of supervisors took are meaningless, virtually meaningless. Maybe not entirely meaningless, but so meaningless that there’s going to be major impacts on the owl, and they are not looking at that. They were never concerned about the owl. They were concerned about whether they were going to get sued over the owl. Well, we’re suing them. We’re suing them.

Hardin: I can imagine that if there’s a generator going, and the owl can’t hear the mice, the owls probably won’t stick around very long. It seems like running a generator might be a good way of getting rid of owls.

Woods: (chuckles) Yeah. Those generators of course, that’s a sticky issue because there’s so many aspects to it. Well, I talked about complicated issues, there’s one great big one right there. Generators are a complicated issue because there’s fires, spills, there’s the noise and there are various aspects that are beneficial to the industry, and it doesn’t have to be just grow lights. The idea is that if you need to run a generator to make a commercial crop, you really are in the wrong location. You should be where you can have access to grid power to begin with. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. It’s true that a lot of people back in the woods are growing commercially and depend on generators, or want them at least, but these are changing times, and if we’re going to structure this properly, let’s take a look at what makes a healthy industry. This is not one of those things.

Hardin: OK, generators are one thing. Can you talk about some of the other impacts that the large grows have, that you don’t think the Board of Supervisors has adequately addressed?

Woods: Well, OK, you just said “large grows.” size alone is an issue. because size not only means more trees cut down and more land disturbed, but it also means larger water needs. It means more workers traveling back roads etc etc. It’s a whole train of impacts. Now the Board of Supervisors has had a vision of moving a lot of this stuff down to prime Ag soils, and there’s some argument that that’s a laudable kind of shift in the playing field, so to speak. I have mixed feelings about that.

I think there’s some reason to say that’s good, but what I look at is something very different, and that is, the future of our industry. Putting in big grows, I think, is a foolish business plan, because we are not going to be able to compete with the grows that spring up in warehouses in Oakland, or in fields in the Central Valley. The market for street quality marijuana is gone, from our midst, and I think a business plan that hopes to compete with that is a foolish business plan. If you are talking about what’s left. You’re talking about the fact that we have THE worldwide reputation. THE worldwide reputation, and why do we have it? We have it because of the quality of the product that we have produced, and the reputation we’ve earned, and let’s honor that. We honor that by focusing on quality.

So, when we talk quality, we have to look beyond a little bit, to mass production. If you look at the genetics of the poor plants that are being produced now, you’ll see that they are a scrambled mess, to a very large degree. I think a lot of this genetics is going to take a while for that kind of product to shake itself out, but what we know now is that genetics that are not scrambled, that comes from more basic sources, genetically speaking, come from plants that don’t naturally grow in prime agricultural soils. The whole mythology about prime agricultural soils comes from the farmers, and the farmers don’t necessarily know what’s good for marijuana.

If you go over to Nepal or Pakistan you’ll see that the growing conditions are not prime agricultural soil, and I think that’s the stabilized genetics we want to work from. I would also throw in here, about prime AG soils some of the mythology that says “Oh well, we bring in all of this artificial soil, what do you mean, our natural soils.” Well, I tell you this: Our natural soils are extremely nutrient poor. “Ha ha ha” you say like that makes your point. Nope. That makes my point, and my point is that if you put, let’s take phosphorus. That’s a real good example. Marijuana plants, all plants, flowering plants, need phosphorus. Marijuana plants, especially, if you want good flowering, need a lot of phosphorus. OK, You’ve put in all of that fertilizer in your hole, and you can throw phosphorus in there. What happens to that phosphorus? Phosphorus is the most desirable nutrient for many organisms in the soil. Every living creature in the soils needs phosphorus, and what’s more, every one of them takes it up better than marijuana plants, or than plants do.

Plants depend on associations with fungus to be able to take up that phosphorus or to take up any other nutrient also. This is particularly germane in regard to the subject of phosphorus, because you need to get the phosphorus to your plant. You NEED to get the phosphorus to your plant. It makes a huge difference. What is the advantage then of a poor soil? A poor soil does not have a lot of those competitors for that phosphorus. That is one of the advantages that our native soils have over prime Ag soils. It is true that you have to add the phosphorus, but just because you add it, you aren’t giving it away to to something else, you have a much better chance for the plant to take up the phosphorus.

Hardin: OK, that’s really interesting. Can you talk about the genetics a little bit. I know a lot of people brought back seed from Afghanistan, and that a lot of old growers have grown continually from that original seed-stock by saving back their own seed, year after year, for thirty years or more. At the same time, you can go down to Wonderland, and pick up all of these new designer strains. Is there a difference?

Woods: I will say that you know I work with a group called HumMAP, the Humboldt, Mendocino Advocacy Project., and one of our fine members, in the ’70s, brought back from Pakistan, North Waziristan, to be more precise, five pounds of prime seed, that were widely distributed, and probably form the genetic basis of much of what is grown in North America and Europe to this day. That was a HumMAP member that did that, and those strains are still being grown.

One detail I remember from some of the genetic research is that in the sampling of a particular popular strain that was being sold on the streets, I think it was something like 40-60% of all the samples of that supposed strain, were not. They were some other strain being called that strain. That’s something about names is: ‘What’s popular this year? Oh, Bubblegum is popular. OK I’ve got Bubblegum.” (chuckles) The market. Yes. Of course that brings us around to another related topic. That is that so much of the marijuana on the street has toxic materials in it, either pesticides or molds, serious molds. I know more than one major grower who will not smoke their own weed. This is growing money, not growing marijuana.

Hardin: That is a problem all over the country. Most people really don’t know what they’re smoking.

Woods: That’s true, and furthermore, of the twelve molds known to inhabit marijuana there’s only a couple that are dangerous, the worst being aspergilis. That’s actually why UCSF, the hospital there announced that they would not accept transplant patients who smoke marijuana, and that’s because aspergilis commonly occurs in marijuana, and aspergilis will cause a $50,000 organ being transplanted, to be rejected. There are many people who desperately need those organs and the doctors there don’t want to waste the money and time and all the rest, just because people weren’t careful about what they smoked. Aspergilis is a very serious problem, and yet a guy with a handful of seeds, as they say, is clueless about that whole end of things. So, the industry, if it’s going to become a serious industry that’s going to be healthy and contribute to our culture in a positive way, is going to have to deal with those kinds of issues, such as aspergilis in what you have to sell.

Hardin: That’s for sure. I met someone with Aspergilosis, and he was in really bad shape. He was carrying around and oxygen canister. He was very pale and he could barely move. He told me to warn people about it, and that it was a very serious, debilitating disease. It’s probably the most dangerous thing about marijuana.

Woods: Yes, and it’s pretty commonly occurring on marijuana. The spores float everywhere and find a home there. I’m not quite sure why they do, but often, if a plant is given too much fertilizer or too much water, it becomes vulnerable to these kinds of infections, and we live in a culture that doesn’t understand about limits about water or fertilizer sometimes.

Hardin: What kind of changes would you like to see made to the county’s medical marijuana ordinance the Board of Supervisors recently adopted?

Woods: Number one, I’d like to see a moratorium on all ministerial permits for grows over 3,000 square feet. That is to say that they would not get a ministerial permit, but they could apply for a more sophisticated permit. So, in other words, I’m not saying they shouldn’t get a permit, I’m just saying they should get a more carefully done permit, at least until such a time as they are properly analyzed in an environmental impact report. Now if the environmental impact report can convincingly explain that such and such kind of grow is actually OK to get a ministerial permit, fine, but we haven’t gotten to that point yet, by a long shot. By a long shot. So, I think there should be a moratorium on these rubber stamp type permits for all larger grows. Not to say that they can’t get a permit, just that they need to have a better quality permit than they are currently allowed under the law. That’s a very big thing.

Number two would be the issue of commercial grows not having generators back in the woods. Not to say they can’t have a generator, just that if they’re going to have a generator, they’re not to be back in the woods. If they have their household generator and it has nothing to do with the commercial production of marijuana, that’s OK too, but I’m just saying we need to curtail the problem with the generators. They’re out of control. They are OUT of control, and the Board of Supervisors is not looking those kinds of problems in the face, and they deserve to get their nose rubbed in something smelly.

Hardin: Well, the supervisors seem to feel that, since we’ve got all of these grows here anyway, and the Sheriff doesn’t have the resources to bust them all, or at least they tell us that, they want to make it as easy as possible for growers to come into compliance with some minimal standard, it will at least be better than the totally unregulated “green rush” that’s going on now. What do you think of that approach?

Woods: I don’t think very highly of that. You’ve raised several issues there. Let’s start back at the Sheriff. The Sheriff has not done his job. Sorry, Mike. (chuckles) He says he doesn’t have the money, but look at how much he has spent on new police cruisers again and again and again. The Board of

Supervisors has control over the Sheriff’s budget. Why don’t they exercise it? This is again, something they should get their face rubbed in. The Board of Supervisors could have made a big difference in the priorities, and in this regard, I’ll just mention. “Big Raid in Mendocino County, Six Arrested” vs “Big Raid in Humboldt County, None Arrested.” For the last thirty years, these have been the headlines. Our Sheriff has not done his job.

That’s the first part of your statement. The second part had to do with inspiring people to come into compliance. To begin with, there’s a lot of people who will never make any attempt to come into compliance, and this is a very significant number of people. Compliance will build over time, in theory, at least, except for one thing that’s not discussed, and that is that the state law is BLEEPED, to use the radio word.

The state law provides that dispensaries can grow huge amounts of their own marijuana. License type 10-A, look it up in the new law. They can grow up to four acres, indoor or outdoors. What do they need your marijuana for? I guess what I’m saying then is: You really need to consider the future. Are you going to be able to find a market for your marijuana? A lot of people are not going to, because of the new law.

So what’s going to happen? You’ll get all of your permits. You’ll get certified. You’ll get stamps, you’ll get everything except a place to sell it, and all of your plants will have little numbers on them, and they’ll come to you and ask: “What did you do with plant A-2468? I wanna know? That’s going to be a tough question to answer, because you will have to show where it went, and you aren’t going to be able to show that it went to a dispensary, because they already have enough of their own.

This raises an interesting question. If you don’t have a really good plan, a good business plan, you’re looking at the wrong thing to be registering in this program, it seems to me. We ought to work to change the law some, here and there.

For example, dispensaries should not be able to grow their own, other than clones from a mother plant, but they should not be able to produce their own marijuana. That is the story of what we have faced in Sacramento for years and years and years. Now, it’s the fact that a bunch of greedy people who have tried to take over and control the industry, and they have succeeded in doing so, and they’ve tried hard to push out all of the small growers because they want to corner the industry, and they’re doing it. You are the people who are gonna get pushed out. Whoever is listening to this (or reading this). So you should think about your future. There may be a way to deal with this. I’m not saying it’s hopeless. I’m just saying there’s some big big pits out there and they have to do with our screwed-up legislators, and I’m talking about OUR legislators, down in Sacramento.

Hardin: I want to go back to the Sheriff. There’s been a lot more of the new big grows in Humboldt County, and not so many in Mendocino County. How much do you think the lax enforcement in Humboldt County has to do with the large influx of new growers in Humboldt County.

Woods: Well I think the issue is complicated. For one thing, the CoMET team in Mendocino County is much more effective than what we see up here, and I won’t speculate why that’s so. I won’t get into that topic, but I will say that they have a very different mindset down there, than we have up here. I will also say, though, that there is the Emerald Triangle. The Emerald Triangle has a reputation for producing valuable marijuana, but in my opinion, Humboldt County, which is part of the Emerald Triangle, but Humboldt County alone, has the greatest reputation. Therefore the people who are out to exploit the industry, and get as much money out of it as they can, have come here because they want the Humboldt cache. “Oh yeah, this is Humboldt!”

I remember a story that occurred a couple of decades ago. A guy that some friends of mine knew, took a bunch of shopping bags from Murrish’s Market (now Shop Smart in Redway) down to Texas, and was able to sell them for $5-$10 a piece, because, if your marijuana came in a Murrish’s shopping bag, you could say “Hey, this is Humboldt County, genuine Humboldt County.” (chuckles)

Hardin: OK so we have an estimated 11,000 grows in Humboldt County now, but the interest in getting these permits seems fairly limited. How much do you think that has to do with the fact that the dispensaries can grow so much of their own?

Woods: I don’t think people have that level of sophistication of understanding of the state law yet. Instead, I think they have more of a gut reaction about Donald Trump.

Hardin: Fair enough. What kind of changes would you like to see the supervisors make?

Woods: We’d like to see a moratorium on rubber-stamp permits for big grows. That’s a big issue. Another one is we feel like they should not allow the use of generators back in the woods. I don’t think that’s too big of a request either. Another issue is: They want to, as you mention earlier, move grows down onto prime Ag soils, but in doing so, they want to be able to reward the person who chooses to, by allowing him to grow four times as many square feet as he or she had before. I think that’s much more incentive than is needed, but it’s not just the incentive, the consequences of turning small grows into larger grows has the complication that there is not a whole lot of prime Ag soil land, and why give it away if you don’t need to.

Hardin: OK, the price of cannabis has been falling. Well, I haven’t bought any cannabis in a while but…

Woods: (chuckles)

Hardin: …but I’ve heard that the price of cannabis has been dropping. How much of the price of marijuana is based on prohibition, and how much is cannabis worth, without all of the prohibition subsidies.

Woods: That’s all interesting speculation. Let’s speculate too, on how high global warming is going to raise the ocean in the next ten years. (chuckles) In other words, I’m not sure anyone’s guess is all that worth while, but an interesting thing that happened was that with the legalization in Washington and Colorado, that because they could grow marijuana in those places, they thought the bottom would drop out of the market. Well the price went up, because the new demand was far greater than anyone expected. So, the economics aren’t always as clear as you might first guess. So, I won’t say. Furthermore, there’s constantly shifting patterns. For example: Dabs are big. Dabs are BIG. (chuckles) …and of course there’s hashish, and there’s you know, whatever else, but it’s a changing industry, changing market, changing techniques of production etc etc, so it’s hard to say, but it’s easy to say that there will be a place for quality, and here is where that place should be.

Hardin: OK, Do you really think that Humboldt County is so much of a better place to grow marijuana than, say the Central Valley, or Sacramento, or any other place in this country for that matter?

Woods: There’s pot, and there’s pot, and one thing that people want when they buy pot is they want to have the assurance that this is carefully done, and here is where we have done it, so they are buying a lifestyle. They are not just buying a product. If you want the highest possible THC in your marijuana, it could be that it will come out of a warehouse in Peoria, and I think there are people who will want that super-high THC, or whatever it is they are after, but I don’t think that’s what quality is about. So, do we produce the prettiest pink buds, or the prettiest blue buds. No. If you look in the marijuana magazines, you’ll see that those are featured desired products. Marijuana can produce a lot of different colored strains of buds, but again, I don’t think that’s what constitutes quality. There may be kids out there that want pink buds, I don’t know. (chuckles)

Hardin: You mention lifestyle. That brings us back to something that is kind of unique about this community. How do you think the marijuana industry has affected this community?

Woods: Well some of those things we touched on earlier. I will just say that we would like to see people continue the values that we have worked to establish for the last several decades. Not everyone will agree to that, or ever understand why we would ask for such a thing. We again, I will remind people. We stand for a quality of life. We stand against racism. We stand against war. We stand against greed, and those are the things that we should honor. That is what we are seeking to honor, by honoring an honorable way of growing and marketing marijuana.

Hardin: OK, we’ve been talking for about an hour. Is there anything else that you think we should get into.

Woods: Marijuana has the possibility of contributing to the spiritual welfare of the individual by opening a person’s mind. There are more powerful drugs that are known to have a role in that kind of process, Yage for example. However, I don’t recommend drugs as a spiritual process, because there’s not a well suited pathway for it, and it’s easy to go the wrong way. I think there are much better spiritual paths available to people, but I will say that I think it’s important for us all to adopt a spiritual recognition of ourselves, so we can grow, and be healthy, and be ourselves, and marijuana can help open that door. So I do think it has a major spiritual role to play. However, it takes reverence for the plant itself, and it takes reverence for all of life that associates with it.

Hardin: Do you have any idea on how we can cultivate those values in our local marijuana culture. I remember when I started smoking weed, that’s what we talked about. Lately, I hear a lot more talk about the game of dealing it, and how much money you can make with it, like the whole gangster aspect of it. What happened, and what can we do to change that?

Woods: (chuckles) When I was an activist in the Haight- Ashbury movement back in the mid-sixties. I saw drugs, particularly methamphetamine, destroy the Haight-Ashbury scene there. It’s a process we’re facing here. This is a place where we have to take a stand against that kind of process, and that’s a major part of why we have this lawsuit. We are taking a stand against greed. Greed goes along with all of the rest of it, methamphetamine, and needing to destroy ones own life as a response to the evil pressures that our system puts on and individual. We have to stand up against that, and that’s a large part of what we’re doing here in our work. That’s what HumMAP is about.

You can find more information about HumMAP at www.hummap.org

leaf


Let’s Dump “Housing First” and Declare a Housing Crisis

housing is a human right

Everyone knows we have a housing crisis in Humboldt County. Landlords love it, and couldn’t care less. Now that the marijuana industry has taken over much of the residential housing in Humboldt County, landlords can, and do, charge a lot of money for anything with a roof. Most of the rental housing is already sub-standard, especially here in SoHum, because most landlords know that it is easier to find new tenants than fix problems that tenants complain about.

cartoon what do you mean you can't bear to call the landlord?

For tenants, it’s a nightmare. Many people pay half, or more, of their monthly income in rent, just to have a roof over their head. The high rent prices in Humboldt County eat working people alive. Business people complain about how hard it is to find good help around here, but it’s damn near impossible for working people to find a place to live, and greedy landlords use that shortage to drain the workforce. Local landlords wreck the workforce because, by the time you’ve been fucked over by a few Humboldt County slumlords, you’ve learned how to live in the woods without water, electricity, heat, a roof over your head, or money in your pocket, for extended periods of time. Once you’ve gotten used to that, why do you need a job, or a home?

save us from slumlord

The housing crisis is real, working people feel it a lot, and it hurts, to landlords, it just feels like a big sloppy, wet, BJ. Business people complain about not finding good help, but they complain even more about people who prefer not to work, or pay rent, hanging around in public shopping districts. We have a whole complex of social problems, which cause an enormous amount of suffering for the people of Humboldt County, all triggered by an acute shortage of affordable housing. That’s what we mean by the words “housing crisis,” and a “housing crisis” is what we have here in Humboldt County.

we want decent housing

For some reason, the Board of Supervisors seem reluctant to declare it. They know that we have all of these problems, and they know that the shortage of affordable housing causes all of these problems. They’ve talked about it a lot, but so far, all they’ve done is hire the consulting firm: Focus Strategies. Focus Strategies have been selling them on the “Housing First” concept. These consultants have advised the county against declaring a housing crisis, and against spending any money on solving the housing crisis, except through their “Housing First” program.

focus strategies

I know that “Housing First” sounds like a great idea, or slogan, or something. I can imagine it on a bumper-sticker, but what does it mean? “Housing First” got a lot of attention as the strategy that Utah used to find housing for all of their homeless people. Utah is a funny place, and most of what made “Housing First” successful in Utah, does not translate well to Humboldt County.

wont work here

In Utah, it’s hard to overestimate the influence of the Mormon Church. Mormons have a strong tradition of compassion, and for helping the poor. Very few places, other than Utah, have such well funded, and well intended churches, and few churches do as much to help people in need, directly, as the Church of Latter Day Saints. Mormons, however, do not tolerate drugs or alcohol. Because of this, unrepentant drug addicts consistently fell through the cracks in Utah, and ended up on the streets, while others got the help they needed from the church.

mormon-temple

This is the crux of the “Housing First” strategy. Under Utah’s “Housing First” plan, the government hired caseworkers to put homeless drug addicts into subsidized housing, so that at least, they would have a room to abuse drugs in, and other people wouldn’t have to see them abuse drugs in public. “Housing First” created a taxpayer subsidized program to put homeless drug addicts into apartments, that did not require people to quit drugs as a condition of receiving help. Once Utah did that, their homeless population disappeared, but only because everyone else got help from the church.

lds love everyone

I kid you not! That is the whole crux of the “Housing First” biscuit. “Housing First” means “Subsidized Housing for Drug Addicts.” It means that landlords will get reliable monthly checks from taxpayers, for letting drug addicts crash in a hovel on their property. “Housing First” gives landlords the option of taking a guaranteed monthly check from the government, rather than renting to working people who might have their hours cut, get laid-off, or have other financial difficulties before their lease expires.

people need homes

“Housing First” does not create any new housing. “Housing First” does nothing to relieve the housing crisis. In fact, “Housing First” will exacerbate the housing crisis by putting subsidized drug addicts, with caseworkers, in direct competition with working families for the, already scarce, available housing.

Low Income Renters Affordable Units

In Utah, thanks to the Church of Latter Day Saints, they have a compassionate community of organized people who want to help. The challenge, for them, was to get around the church’s objection to helping unrepentant alcoholics and drug addicts. That’s not our problem here. Here in Humboldt County, thanks to the black-market marijuana industry, we’re all unrepentant alcoholics and drug addicts, and we don’t give a fuck about each other. The challenge for us is greedy, well organized, land-owners, who control our local government and consistently use that power to suck ever more blood out of over-taxed and over-burdened, working people.

being-poor-3

In Utah, “Housing First” helped a compassionate community overcome its prejudice against drug addicts, which allowed their well-established, common sense approach to homelessness, to succeed more completely. Here in Humboldt County, “Housing First” helps greedy landlords exploit a drug addicted community more effectively, by smothering compassion and common sense beneath a big fluffy pillow labeled “Housing First,” and then creates an expensive bureaucracy that drains county coffers, drives rent prices through the roof, and makes life harder for poor and working families in Humboldt County.

doonesbury gentrification

Don’t ever forget that the people who control our Board of Supervisors, are the very same developers and land-owners who created this housing crisis to begin with. They make their living by screwing over poor and working people, and all they want is more for themselves. If the Board of Supervisors implements “Housing First” in Humboldt County as they plan, the only way you will ever find an affordable place to live is if you quit your job, stop bathing, and make a chronic nuisance of yourself in a public shopping district. “Housing First” is a cynical scam designed to put the taxpayer’s money in landlord’s pockets and sweep the chronically ugly off of the streets, while it drives rent prices up, makes it harder for working people to find a place to live, and insures that more of the people who live and work in Humboldt county, suffer hardship and poverty.

gentrification cat

It’s time to dump “Housing First” and declare a “Housing Crisis.” The Supes should stop wasting the taxpayer’s money on consultants from out of town, and instead, do everything they can to empower local organizations like AHHA, with compassionate, common sense solutions to Humboldt County’s housing crisis. We need housing solutions that work for our community, because, thankfully, Humboldt County is not dominated by do-gooder Mormon teetotalers , and the solution that worked in Utah will never work here.

mormon shot glass

We need a homegrown, grassroots solution to our housing crisis, not some fatally-flawed, cookie-cutter clone. We need more than just housing; we need to find a better way to live. We have a proud tradition of alternative, owner-built housing here in Humboldt County. We should continue, and expand on that tradition of innovation, by making space for people to build human-scale homes for themselves. Everyone needs a place to live, and everyone needs a place to live that they can afford. If developers won’t provide that for the people who live here, then let the people who live here, do it for themselves.

Everyone Needs a Home


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