Category Archives: Finance

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


What’s a Picture Worth

trash strewn field

photo credit: Thadeus Greenson

I noticed this image most recently in the North Coast Journal, but I’ve seen it, in one variation or another, in most of our local media outlets. Pretty much anytime the cops evict people from an “illegal” encampment, the press report appears beneath, or at least includes, a picture of a trash strewn field. We treat human beings like garbage. We force them into impossible conditions, harass them, abuse them, and then forcibly evict them. Then we show the picture of the trash strewn field, as though the purpose of the whole cruel, violent, unconscionable operation were to clean-up litter.

cleaning up streets

That picture is enough to incapacitate most liberals, who’s feeble minds freeze at the sight of it, caught in the cognitive dissonance between wanting to help the poor, and wanting to protect the environment. Liberals like to think that they are smarter than gun-toting, bible-thumping, immigrant-bashing red-neck conservatives, but they’re not, not by a long shot, and liberals fall for this stupidity every time.

stupid-liberals-yoda

Liberals watch well-fed, well-equipped and well-armed police officers forcibly evict the most wretched of the wretched from the most squalid of squalid, and treat them as though their condition amounted to criminal behavior, and the cops say “See, it’s not about the violent oppression of local citizens; it’s about cleaning up the environment.”

cops pick up litter

Liberals hear that and think, “Look at all that litter. That’s a real problem. I hate litterbugs.”

i hate litterbugs

Fascists 1, People 0.

straight talk straight fascism trump

In truth, it’s worse than that. It’s about economic pressures forcing all of us into impossible situations. It’s about watching our neighbors crumble under the stress, and then stepping around them, and avoiding their gaze. It’s about looking around, and wondering “How did it come to this?”

how did it come to this

 

“I know! You can tell. Look at that.” the guy would say, flipping to another picture, and then showing it to the person, adding, “Have you ever seen that much of anything come out of a dog.”

i love you poo

“Ewww” the person would say.

ewwww

He mounted some of the pictures on poster-board and brought them to town meetings, and he regularly called our community radio station to tell us, angrily, always angrily, that those people living down on the river bar were ruining our community.

ruining our community

To be fair, the guy did clean-up a hell of a lot of garbage, and he did pay a some of the people living in these encampments to fill bags with garbage and clean-up the area. I know he cleaned-up a lot of trash, because he would leave impressively large piles of it along Redwood Dr. between Redway and Garberville. He used these massive pyramids of garbage as fund-raising tools, to solicit donations from passing motorists. A lot of people supported this man’s efforts with cash donations, even though he offered no accounting of how much money he raised, or how he spent it.

mountain-of-trash

I cheered when he moved out of the area. He rubbed me the wrong way for three reasons: 1. He was always angry. 2. He blamed poor people. 3. His wife sold real estate, and he had a contract to clean-up foreclosed-on houses after the housing bubble burst. In other words, he and his wife, made money by making people homeless. Still, I felt sorry for him, in a way.

feel sorry for him

I could see that the guy was genuinely upset. He wasn’t happy. He looked like his head was about to explode. You could tell that it was more than he could take. He could not fathom the depth of the problem, and it all came out as displaced aggression. I can relate. It’s fucking brutal out there, and we’re all in over our heads. We’re all looking for someone to blame.

blame-someone-else-1

 

Democrats blame Republicans. Republicans blame immigrants, Muslims, women, liberals, the media, “welfare queens,” the poor, and anyone else they find, and all of those people blame the government. We all know it isn’t working, but we all blame different people for it. Our problems are much bigger than these petty quarrels. Much, much bigger.

bigger than martin

For instance,when it comes to housing, we have two choices:

two-choices apples

1. Standard Housing, which costs an astronomical amount of money, requires ridiculous amounts of maintenance, and practically demands a high-consumption lifestyle.
2. Homelessness, which is ridiculously cruel.

homeless change

Between those two ridiculous options, we have nothing. We know from statistics, that most people who live in Humboldt County cannot afford a home here. Either they spend more than they can afford on housing, skimping on necessities like food, medicine and utilities, while they work themselves to death, or they find themselves without housing and learn to survive that way.

homeless neighbor

They’re both shitty options, and I wouldn’t even call it a choice. More like, you try Option 1. You give it your best shot. If things don’t go well, you discover Option 2. Meanwhile, if you listen to the County Supes, the Eureka City Council, and their special consultant on homelessness for long, you realize that government will never solve this problem. In fact, the government exists specifically to create this problem, which is why there are cops out there evicting people from their squalid makeshift camps in the first place.

homeless scream

It’s not working. Government doesn’t work. Democracy doesn’t work. If you think the 2016 presidential election will change anything, you’re an idiot. Were you born yesterday? Don’t you remember all of that “Hope and Change” bullshit. Democracy doesn’t work. It never has. Stop believing in it. Stop teaching it to your children. In fact, stop having children, because you have nothing to teach them, and no future to offer them.

no future

Capitalism doesn’t work. Capitalism gave us Global Warming, endless war, and poverty. Civilization doesn’t work. Civilization gave us overpopulation, deforestation and the extinction crisis. Technology won’t save us either.

robot crushes man

 

A hundred years ago, we built innovative new technologies that allowed us to exploit the Earth’s resources more efficiently. We built new mining equipment culminating in the giant drag-lines used in mountaintop removal coal mine operations. We developed new oil technologies, leading to innovations like the Deep Water Horizon deep sea oil drilling platform, and the latest craze sweeping the nation, “Fracking.” Inventions like the chainsaw literally changed the face of the Earth. Today, we see the disastrous consequences of the enormous success of these technologies all around us.

dragline

Right now, technology revolves around exploiting you, the user. How are they doing on that? Do you think there’s still room for improvement? Is there anything left of you? I wonder. No, technology won’t save you. There’s no “app” for that. We inhabit a culture that has run out of options. No one, sees any realistic hope that things will get better, and it only goes downhill from here. That’s the story.

thats the story tigger

When you see cops intimidating, harassing and evicting people who have nothing, and nowhere to go, you are looking at the end of civilization. You are watching the interests of capital, crush your neighbors last refuge, and pitch it into a dumpster. That picture shows the brutality of the system, and that’s the picture that tells the story.

observers gasp

When you see that debris strewn field, it means they missed the story completely. It’s like they went to cover the Superbowl, but the only picture we see is the empty stadium, strewn with beer cups and fast-food wrappers. Unless they wanted to remind us that sports fans are a bunch of drunken slobs, which is true of most of us, by the way, they missed the story.

...after the tailgate party

…after the tailgate party


My Doctor Got Busted

doctor-handcuffs

 

I’ve never understood people’s fascination with pharmaceutical drugs. I’ve been prescribed narcotic pain meds, and found their effects nearly as unpleasant as the pain they were meant to relieve. The only pharmaceutical drug I ever remember enjoying was something called a “pink lemon stat.” At the time, roughly 30 years ago, I played bass in a hard working rock band.

bass bass bass

We played two or three gigs a week, and I waited tables at a restaurant to pay the bills. Our guitar player had an overweight girlfriend who had a prescription for 90 of these beans every month, to help her lose weight. She shared them with her boyfriend, and he shared them with the band. Half of one of those pills would keep me energized all night.

pink pills

One weekend, however, after playing gigs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, plus an after hours jam after the gig on Saturday, and then working the Sunday Brunch shift at the restaurant, I remember walking home after work. The whole world seemed impossibly gray, bleak and depressing. I knew I couldn’t bear to feel that way for long, and I never, ever want to feel that way again. I never took any more of those little pink pills after that.

bleak

At the other end of the spectrum, I discovered cannabis and psychedelics as a teenager, and my relationship with these mostly plant and fungus based compounds has been entirely positive. Although I am not a doctor, I recommend them to everyone, despite the fact that you cannot get any of them from a pharmacist, and your insurance will not cover the cost.

psychedelics holy shit

This is how I see the world of drugs in America: All of the good drugs are listed under “Schedule 1” and prohibited to everyone, including doctors and scientists. You can buy all of the bad drugs you want, at the pharmacy, so long as you have a note from your doctor, and the worst drugs, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and sugar are heavily advertised, ubiquitous, and all but crammed down our throats. As cruel and perverse as it seems, the logic behind our nation’s drug policy is impeccable, in that it maximizes the potential for harm, and the profitability of all drugs.

DrugWarWorks

Other people might see it differently, and apparently, I’m in the minority here in Humboldt County. It seems that here in Humboldt, our enthusiasm for prescription drugs nearly eclipses our passion for cannabis. We don’t have big colorful festivals to celebrate our love for prescription drugs, but according to a great piece by Ryan Burns at LoCO, we consume the equivalent of 14 Vicodin tablets per day, for every man woman and child in Humboldt County, “including babies and people in comas.”

heroin_party_

At that level of consumption, it’s a wonder we’re not all in comas. I also read recently that we have more active prescriptions for pain meds in Humboldt County that we have people, by about 20%! I guess Oxycontin alone doesn’t cut it anymore. Does it really hurt that much to live here? Or, do local doctors nurture our enthusiasm for narcotics by prescribing them as freely as I recommend weed?

why_does_it_hurt_so_bad__

Recently, my doctor, at least the last real doctor I saw at Redwoods Rural Health Clinic here in Redway, made the news because of her enthusiasm for prescription drugs. Dr. Wendi Joiner pleaded “no contest” to DUI and drugs charges, and had her license to practice medicine suspended. A state medical board disciplinary investigation determined that Dr. Joiner had written 33 prescriptions, for a wide range of drugs, to a fictitious patient.

dr wendi joiner

A few years ago Dr Wendi Joiner left Redwoods Rural to take a job in Marin County, but in December of 2014, a State Trooper pulled her car over in Sonoma County, and that’s when things began to fall apart for Dr. Joiner. When the cops pulled her over, she appeared intoxicated and failed a sobriety test. In her car, they found two full, and one mostly empty bottles of booze, a whipped cream dispenser, charged with nitrous oxide, along with NINE CASES of nitrous oxide cartridges, or “whip-its,” AND over 100 prescription pills, ranging from Norco and Xanax, to Ritalin. Apparently, perhaps ironically, she had no weed on her.

traffic stiop

The article I read, suggested our good doctor was using the nitrous oxide to inhale the other drugs. I still cannot imagine how that would work, but maybe she knows something I don’t. She is, or at least was, a doctor, after all. Either way, she had enough drugs to get a lot of people really fucked-up, even without the novel delivery system.

you like drugs

The Whip-its surprised me. First, because, being a doctor, you’d think she could get her hands on one of those nice refillable nitrous tanks, rather than waste all of those stupid disposable metal cartridges. Second, I remember seeing lots of those spent whip-it cartridges on the side of the road, all over SoHum, back when she worked here, and not so many since. I would have never guessed that she dumped them.

whippits

I remember noticing a Burning Man sticker on the back of her Subaru in the parking lot, which told me a little about her, but for all of her, now famous, enthusiasm for prescription drugs, she did not seem particularly interested in practicing medicine. I recall she spent most of our time together in the exam room looking at her cell phone. I also recall that she did not look well.

dr stares at cell phone

She was relatively young and slender, without any major deformities. She should have been attractive, but her hair looked particularly dull, and her skin had no glow. I attributed it to overwork, because I assume all doctors work too much, but everyone else I know who looks that way, has health problems. I hope she gets the help she needs, but unfortunately, doctors seem to be much better at creating these kinds of problems than solving them.

steve martin little shop of horrors


This Kind, Wonderful Community Called SoHum

sohum community

This past week, officers from our local VFW post changed the locks on the doors of the Garberville Vets Hall to prevent the building from being used as an emergency shelter during our recent spate of severe weather. We have no other shelters in Southern Humboldt, and hundreds of people live outside around here, largely due to the lack of housing, economic forces, and the nature of the cannabis industry.

homeless in sohum

A lot of these people currently work regular jobs in town that don’t pay enough to afford a decent place to live. More still, work in the cannabis industry. Of course we also have people who suffer from illness, mental or otherwise, that prevent them from thriving, and people who simply cannot cope with, or have given up on society, and/or life. It’s much too large of a population to make generalizations about, except to say that too many people in SoHum have too few housing options.

People protesting for squatters' rights at the home of the justice minister, Ken Clarke

We have a perverse attitude towards poverty in SoHum, although I don’t think SoHum is unique in this perversion. We try to punish poverty with more poverty. We attempt to drive poor people from our midst by withholding services, and demonstrating our hostility and disdain for them. It never works. Every year we have more poor people, and every year, the hostility increases. Isn’t it about time we faced the fact that not everyone in SoHum can be rich or middle-class?

park-boat-in-boat

Try as we like, we cannot run a town exclusively for the benefit of the rich and the middle-class. In fact, almost no-one in SoHum would be rich or middle-class were it not for a hell of a lot of poor people. The black-market marijuana industry makes a few people rich, but it makes a lot of people poor. Most of the money that comes into SoHum by way of the cannabis industry, comes from poor people. Besides that, poor people do most of the work necessary to produce and distribute black-market cannabis as well, but the secrecy of the industry, and a community in denial, demand that they remain unheard and unrecognized, if not, unseen.

workers transplant cannabis

Here in SoHum, not unlike the rest of the world, we have two kinds of people. A) people who make their living from what they own, and B) people who make their living from what they do. Around here, the thing that people own, that makes money, is land, and the thing that people do, to make money, is grow weed. The people who own land, the “owners” if you will, fall broadly into two categories: A) the dope yuppies, who got here first, and their kids. These people still think they are God’s greatest gift to humanity because they invented marijuana and hold a patent on it. They think that the rest of us are just lucky to get high, at any price, and that we should be nothing but thankful to them for it.

thankful for cannabis

Whenever you hear the word “community” used in Southern Humboldt, it refers exclusively to this group of people. Increasingly though, as the dope yuppies retire, they sell out to: B) large-scale distributors from out of state, who send managers, to aggressively expand production, often at their neighbor’s expense.

big grow humboldt county

Both the dope yuppies, and their successors, the big distributors, need help from the “Doers” in order for their land to make money. They need workers, lots of them, but not the normal 9-5 type workers. They need people who can drop everything and move to a remote piece of land, where they camp-out all summer while they do all of the work necessary to turn piles of soil into piles of cannabis.

pile_of_marijuana

These workers need to work hard in the hot sun, deal with primitive conditions, keep a secret, know the cannabis industry, and appreciate good weed. The pay is negotiable, and often based on a share of the harvest. Usually, the people who want these jobs have exhausted other options. Growers know who they’re looking for. They recognize desperation, and take advantage of it when they can.

take advantage

The people who want these jobs know that if you work hard, volunteer a lot, and suck-up to the right people, you can get off of the streets and into some abandoned trailer or shack with plenty of weed, and maybe even a few bucks in your pocket. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, didn’t finish high-school or have big gaps in your employment record, this might be the best job you can get. As a result, a lot of people come here, smile a lot, and try to find something nice to say about everyone.

hippie couple

“Oh, this is such a kind, wonderful community.” and “We feel so blessed to have found this place and want to contribute to it in any way we can” they say, as they help clean-up after a music festival. This proven strategy has helped many young “doers” find underground work and substandard housing where they produce most of the marijuana grown in SoHum. It has also contributed greatly to the swollen egos of the dope yuppies, who have come to expect lots of free labor and ass-kissings from hapless strangers looking for work.

carlin quote ass kissers

As the cannabis industry continues to grow, so grows this workforce. By now, they comprise the majority of the population of SoHum. These people make Humboldt County prosperous, and they pay a lot of taxes. However, they are not protected by workman’s comp; OSHA never inspects their workplace, nor will they receive unemployment benefits if they lose their job, and inevitably, they lose their job, and have to start from scratch.

start from scratch

So, we have a large workforce of people who don’t mind camping for extended periods of time, in an industry with a high turnover rate. In this business, generally, your boss and your landlord are the same person, so when you lose your job, you lose your home too. This happens a lot. The cannabis industry becomes a trap, and the workers in it rarely get ahead, so eventually, they quit, or get fired, but instead of complaining, they keep their mouth shut, and continue singing the praises of “this kind, wonderful community,” while they attempt to brown-nose their way into another job.

brown noser jlo

It shouldn’t surprise us one bit that we have lots of people camping around Garberville, because that’s the nature of the cannabis industry. The cannabis industry needs workers who know how to “rough it” even if local merchants prefer to cater to a different clientele. Most of the people who live here in SoHum have no use for dashboard hula dancers, makeovers or $25 dollar-a-plate entrees. They need a campground, affordable housing, cheap eats, a place to charge their cell phone and wifi, not that anyone cares.

nobody cares

Nor should it surprise us to hear so many praises for “this kind, wonderful community” from people who enjoy so few benefits from their participation in it. How could “this kind, wonderful community” exploit them more? In truth, land owners use the veil of secrecy that surrounds the cannabis industry to sweep displaced workers under the rug, and we see how “kind and wonderful” this community really is, by how it treats the least fortunate among us, on the coldest nights of the year.

ron machado in the rain crop


SoHum, It’s More of a Casino Than a Community

casino

Now that the weather has turned cold and rainy, I worry about my friends here in SoHum who lack adequate housing. I know it looks like we have a bunch of houses and a few trailer courts around here, but most of those structures have been at least partially, if not entirely, converted to indoor cannabis cultivation. Nobody lives there. Because of that, a lot of the people who work at the restaurants, stores and hotels in town, and on the pot farms in the hills, live in their cars, or camp in the woods.

camp in the woods

They really don’t have a choice. There’s just not enough housing available for the number of people who work here, so people make do. The cannabis industry, by nature, does not create a lot of steady, reliable jobs. Instead, it suckers people in with the promise of big profits, which rarely turn out as planned. It’s a gamblers game, and everyone has their ups and downs.

gamblers

Our corrupt Sheriff sees thousands and thousands of illegal, habitat destroying, salmon killing dope farms on “google earth,” but sends his deputies out to harass poor people for talking to their friends on the sidewalk in Garberville. We have dozens of unsolved murders, countless other violent crimes occur here daily, and multiple global organized crime networks operate here with impunity, but Sheriff Downey sends his Deputies down here to act as bouncers for the merchants in the Garberville business district, and to evict people from their makeshift shelters.

sheriff-in-gville

 

A lot of people see no problem with this. They think the sheriff shouldn’t worry so much about crime, and should instead focus on sweeping poor people out of town. Really, we don’t care about crime. We like crime. We are crime. We take pride in our outlaw status, but we prefer to cater to more upscale felons, and we expect the Sheriff’s Department to rid us of the riff-raff, whether they’ve committed any crime or not.

riff raff rocky horror

It’s a strange attitude, considering how much Southern Humboldt relies on, and takes advantage of poor people. Poor working people grow, process and sell almost all of the millions of pounds of cannabis grown in SoHum. Besides doing most of the hard labor and taking most of the risks, they pay most of the hotel bed tax. Poor working people, who can’t find a place to live, often rent hotel rooms to avoid inclement weather, shower, do laundry, charge cell phones etc. Poor local homeless people keep our SoHum’s hotels in business, and clean the rooms every day, besides.

hotel maid Change-Sheets

Last year, the county passed another tax, specifically targeting the poorest taxpayers in Humboldt County, Measure Z. The new sales tax, targets the poor in more ways than one. First, it taxes the poor when they buy necessities, like clothing and toiletries. Then it gives that money to the sheriff, who uses it to harass them, evict them from their makeshift shelters, and drive them out of town. I know Measure Z is a county-wide tax, but folks in SoHum loved the idea and pushed it hard. I’ve never known people to work harder to screw poor people than they do here in SoHum.

measure z homeless-family

You will hear a lot of rhetorical references to “community” in Southern Humboldt. We have the world famous Mateel “Community” Center, the equally famous Redwood “Community” Radio, and we talk about “this community” a lot, but we use the term euphemistically. What happens here in SoHum is something else entirely.

something else

SoHum has become a “Mecca” for greedy, self-absorbed drug-dealers who make their money by destroying communities all over America. Ordinarily, drug dealers lead secret lives, alienated from the community around them by the clandestine nature of their occupation. They tell lies to avoid arousing suspicion and keep a low profile, while they undermine community values and enrich themselves.

hey-kids-wanna-buy-some-weed_

Drug dealers parasitize communities the way ticks parasitize dogs. Here, however, we have thousands upon thousands of ticks, piled on top of each other, posing as a dog. From a distance, it looks like a dog, but when you get close enough to touch it, you’ll find nothing but a mass of blood-suckers eager to feast on you.

tick bite

Sure, drug dealers feel a camaraderie with each other, here, that they don’t often find elsewhere, and they are always eager to make connections, especially profitable ones, but that doesn’t make them a community. Instead, think of them as card players in a poker game. On the surface, they maintain a “poker face,” and appear friendly and cordial, but beneath the calm exterior, they are all scheming to take advantage of each other.

poker players

That’s not really what you call “community.” Communities work together to take care of each other. That’s not what goes on here in SoHum. People come here to play “the game” and make money. They’re not interested in any “seventh generation” bullshit, and they don’t give a damn about the “common good.”

common good

“The game”, of course, is the cannabis industry. Some people win at this game, but a lot of people lose. Merchants and non-profits create lots of opportunities for “high-rollers” to get drunk and blow their winnings, and, of course, we kick the penniless losers out on the street. Doesn’t that sound like a casino to you? If you ignore all of the hollow talk about “community” and think of SoHum as a gambling casino it becomes easier to understand the dynamics of this place.

understanding-power-dynamics

For instance:

for instance

We don’t do charity here. No one wants to help the less fortunate. Everyone here wants more for themselves, and the people who have the most, want more still. Instead of charity, we have “community non-profits” where the richest people in this community decide what ridiculously expensive luxury they would enjoy most, and then convince everyone else to donate time, money and energy to make it happen.

socialism for the rich

You might have noticed that we have a top-shelf concert hall, a high-powered radio station, a fancy new town square, and a huge new community park with an organic farm and soon an athletic field infested with soccer moms. Imagine those things as crystal chandeliers suspended over the gaming floor of a huge casino. You know how casinos are. Casinos overdo the luxuries, until everything reeks of too much money and not enough taste. Casinos spend money on extravagant luxuries, like crystal chandeliers, in a futile attempt to conceal the general sleaziness of the place. We do the same thing here in SoHum.

chandelier in casino

Those chandeliers do nothing to dignify the activity going on beneath them, but that’s why so many people around here can find money for a new “chandelier,” but have nothing but contempt for the people who do most of the work around here, pay most of the taxes, and still have no place to live.   Clearly, the people who live here, have the resources to solve SoHum’s housing crisis, but in the casino we call “SoHum” people obviously have other priorities.

other priorites cheney


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 134 other followers