Category Archives: Humboldt Co. CA

My Doctor Got Busted



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.


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.


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.”


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?


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.


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

The Humboldt Brand

humbolodt brand

At the Supes’ meeting recently, a witness put it like this: “When you tell someone that you are from Humboldt, the first question they ask you is, ‘ Do you have any cannabis.’” I can attest that this is at least partially true, but I think it belies our poverty, more than it speaks to our strength. Often as not, when I tell someone I live in Humboldt, they say something like: “Oh yeah, I’ve been there. Ain’t nothin’ but pot farmers up there. What do you do for culture?”

culture is your brand

Sure, we’re famous for our weed, but mostly because the black-market marijuana industry has choked-off and snuffed-out everything else around here. That said, why should people care more about their pot coming from Humboldt County, than they do about their corn coming from Iowa? Drug dealers always want to tell me where the pot they’re selling me comes from, but as a cannabis consumer, I’ve never really trusted street dealers, so I’ve never put much stock in their stories. Really, as long as it looks like weed, smells like weed, and get’s you high like weed, who gives a fuck where it comes from?

who gives a fuck seriously

Ask yourself, “What is it about the name ‘Humboldt’ that cannabis consumers will pay a little more for?” Pot smokers sure won’t pay extra to help kill off the last wild salmon or poison the last Pacific fisher. We won’t kick down our hard-earned cash to help put sub-literate rednecks in brand new trucks, or send dope yuppies to Phuket for the Winter, at least not if we have a choice, and can pick up a sack of Willie Nelson Weed, or Marley’s Marijuana for less. Those things could just as easily convince people to boycott the Humboldt brand, rather than patronize it, but we’ve got one thing that makes the name “Humboldt” a goldmine for marketing cannabis. Can you guess what it is?

guess gandalf


I’ll give you a hint: Like the salmon, they come back, year after year, despite the abuse we heap on them. I refer of course to the bipedal primates colloquially known as “Hippies.” Hippies. Marijuana created hippies, and hippies made marijuana famous. Marijuana turned people into hippies back in the ’60s, and it continues to turn people into hippies today.


All you need to do to become a hippie is smoke weed and not cut your hair. That’s it, and millions of Americans do it every year. Some of them stick with it for quite a while, until eventually, they crumple, under unbearable economic pressure, and settle for the grim life of a dead-eyed cubicle rat. Still, they keep their hippie identity with them, in a box on the dresser, where they also keep their marijuana.

hippie box

Hippies have a long history in Humboldt County, and considering how shameful the rest of the history of this county is, we really should promote it. In the ’60s, hippies from San Francisco came to Humboldt to escape “The Man” and corporate exploitation, by getting “back to the land.” Those hippies learned to grow their own marijuana, and they grew better marijuana. With this better marijuana, Humboldt’s hippies took over the domestic marijuana industry.

hippies grow pot

Growing marijuana is a proud hippie tradition, like organic gardening, long hair and promiscuous sex. Along with the burgeoning marijuana industry, hippie culture flourished here in Humboldt County, and Humboldt’s hippies came to define hippie culture, especially in the areas of owner built homes, alternative energy and restoration ecology. That’s why so many hippies come to Humboldt, and that’s why “The Hippie” holds the key to Humboldt’s future.`

shut up hippie

I know you don’t want to hear this. The county already paid big bucks for this information, not that long ago, but nobody wanted to hear it then. The county hired a PR consultant to help define the county’s image. Those consultants introduced their presentation to the Supes with the old hippie anthem, White Rabbit by the San Francisco psychedelic rock band The Jefferson Airplane. You could actually hear the floor drop out from under them with each note. No one wanted to hear it. I don’t know what people wanted to hear, or expected to hear, but like it or not, those consultants earned their money, and we ignore their advice at our own economic peril. Really, if you don’t like hippies, you should get out of the marijuana industry, because without hippies, there is no marijuana industry, at least not in Humboldt County.

hippies smoke weed in a circle

It’s time to face facts. Hippies created this industry. Hippies drive this industry, and hippies hold the key to the future of this industry. As an enduring popular American archetype, The Hippie comes in second only to the cowboy. Think about that. Even though cowboys themselves have mostly disappeared from the American West (which is a good thing, because cowboys smell even worse, and cause a lot more problems than hippies) the archetype of “The Cowboy” still sells billions of dollars worth of cowboy hats, cowboy boots, belt buckles, tobacco and firearms, just for starters, every year.

cowboy stuff-vert

Next to The Cowboy, The Hippie is the biggest marketing goldmine in America, and the single most essential component of the hippie lifestyle is marijuana. Every hippie carries marijuana, just like every cowboy carries a gun. If you live in Humboldt County, you better learn to love the smell of hippies, because that is the smell of money, and Humboldt County will only remain synonymous with marijuana, so long as it remains synonymous with hippies.

Classic Humboldt Honey Poster.

Classic Humboldt Honey Poster.

Hippies have driven the economy of Humboldt County for decades. It’s about time we showed some appreciation. We absolutely must associate the Humboldt brand with hippies, and we need to make Humboldt county, especially Southern Humboldt County, as hippie-friendly as possible. Not only should we cater to the hippies who visit here, we should encourage everyone who visits to become a hippie for the day. We’ll sell tie-dye T-shirts, granny glasses and peace sign medallions galore.


To attract hippies, and earn their patronage, we’ll want to cultivate a vibe around town that feels about half-way between a Rainbow Gathering and the Oregon Country Fair. We’ll need hippie-friendly campgrounds, clothing optional swimming holes, and vegan eateries because we don’t just want hippies all over America to demand Humboldt Grown weed; we also want them to come here to see it grown, and buy it fresh from hippie farmers. We want hippies to come here because hippies will still pay retail price, even after the big wholesalers have beaten the living profit-margin out of you.

beaten up

People around here like to say that the “back to the landers” had “hippie values” although nobody seems to remember what those were. Well, we better Google them, because we need to preserve, celebrate and venerate our hippie traditions and heritage here in Humboldt County if we want to remain economically viable. I know you don’t want to hear it, but we need those dirty hippies, and we need them now, more than ever.

dirty hippies

Marketing Cannabis

market cannabis

I love marijuana, and I smoke a lot of it, but by itself, it’s pretty boring. Marijuana enhances a lot of things, like music, sex, food, conversation, art, and even work, and it often inspires fascinating, funny and frightening ideas, all of which I find much more interesting than marijuana itself. In my nearly 40 year history with the herb, I’ve smoked a great variety of weed, some very potent, some not very potent at all, but as I look back, I remember the music. I remember the sex. I remember the conversations, and if I wrote them down, I even remember the ideas, but generally, I don’t remember the weed.

so high cant remember


I remember being high, so I must have had some weed, but as long I had weed, weed was just one of those things I took for granted, like a cup of hot coffee in the morning, or a cold beer at night. Those things don’t make the day exceptional, they make the day bearable. We all have our preferences about these things, but most of us don’t make them the central focus of our lives.

central focus

I bring this up because so many people around here seem really eager to tell me about how good their weed is. If someone offers to share a joint with me, I’m always grateful, and I usually try to say something nice about it, and in fact, around here, the pot is usually pretty damn good, so the compliments are heartfelt.

good weed

On the other hand, too often around here, by the time we get to the end of the joint, all we have talked about is the weed in the joint. I do appreciate high quality cannabis, but if I can’t find something, anything, else interesting about you, no matter how good your pot is, it’s probably not good enough to make your company tolerable for long.

boring stoners1

I understand that pot growers, like most other successful entrepreneurs, focus a lot of attention on producing a high quality product. I know that it takes a significant amount of knowledge and skill to grow top notch sinsemilla, but personally, the only thing I find more boring than gardening itself, is listening to people talk about gardening. I think I have this in common with most cannabis consumers. This will certainly become increasingly true of cannabis consumers as we move towards legalization, because cannabis consumers who enjoy gardening will quickly become producers, rather than consumers of cannabis.

obamas garden

From a marketing perspective, I think it much more important to understand how the consumer interacts with the product, than to focus on the product itself. You can only show so many trichome close-ups, and award-winning strain names only mean so much. To successfully market a brand of cannabis in a competitive, legal, free market, it becomes critical to understand the customer, and to focus on how your product enhances their lives.

girls smoke joints

Remember “Miller Time?” “At the end of a hard day’s work, it’s time to head for the best tasting beer you can find. That’s Miller Time.” They don’t say “Miller beer will get you drunk faster than any other beer.” They don’t even say their beer tastes good. They just say it’s “the best tasting beer you can find.” That’s all they say about their beer. They spend the whole commercial telling you that you’re a noble, hard-working man, the kind of man that makes this country great, and at the end of a long day at work, you deserve a beer. Of course any beer tastes good at the end of a long day of work, but wouldn’t you rather drink the beer that appreciates you?

miller time

Budweiser on the other hand, wants you to associate their product with good times and good friends. That’s why Budweiser sponsors so many concerts, parties and sporting events. They want you to remember that Budweiser makes the party happen, and that wherever you had a great time, Budweiser was right there with you. Do they tell us anything about the product? If they do, you can bet it’s the most boring part of the commercial.

budweiser party

Now think about how this applies to branding cannabis, especially with regard to the name “Humboldt,” and some of the other brands it will likely compete with. I know that Bob Marley’s heirs inked a deal to market cannabis products bearing the brand name “Marley,” and Willie Nelson recently announced plans to market a line of cannabis products bearing his own name. What does the name Bob Marley mean to cannabis consumers? Bob Marley stands for freedom, the triumph of oppressed people, and cultural revolution. What about Willie Nelson? Willie appeals to red-blooded Americans, stout working people of modest means and conventional beliefs.

willie nelsons weed brand

Now ask yourself, “What does the name ‘Humboldt’ conjure up in the minds of America’s bongloaders?” I mean, besides pot snobs, dope yuppies, and shadowy drug dealers who destroy natural habitat to exploit marijuana prohibition for profit. Do you think pot smokers identify with Indian killers, forest rapers or red-neck dirt farmers? Honestly, what else have you got?

island of tears-vert

Which brand of weed do I want to smoke? Find out next week when I tell you what we have to do to make the name “Humboldt” a marketing goldmine. You’re not going to like it.

youre not going to like it return

I Watch the Supes Make Sausage


cher-make28-  -  Cher-Make Sausage employee Eve Rutherford works on processing brats in the Manitowoc plant on Wednesday, February 24, 2010. Cher-Make has revamped its product labels with photos of real people on its products. Photo by Mike De Sisti/MDESISTI@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

cher-make28- – Cher-Make Sausage employee Eve Rutherford works on processing brats in the Manitowoc plant on Wednesday, February 24, 2010. Cher-Make has revamped its product labels with photos of real people on its products. Photo by Mike De Sisti/MDESISTI@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM

I went to the Supes Meeting last Monday to watch them make sausage. It wasn’t pretty. I applaud Steve Lazar and staff at the Planning Department for coming up with a draft medical marijuana land use ordinance that offered significant environmental protections. I especially liked one provision that limited the location of new licensed grows to within one mile of a paved county road. That provision would have done a lot to protect wildlife and prevent further habitat fragmentation.



Fragmentation threatens endangered fishers, and other creatures who depend on deep forest habitat. Sediment from the hundreds of miles of poorly maintained dirt roads that criss-cross Southern Humboldt severely impact watercourses and threaten endangered salmon. Black market growers generally prefer to be as far from the pavement as possible, and many of our largest grows have ten miles or more of shoddy, poorly maintained, dirt road between them and the nearest county road. Unfortunately, the one mile limitation got struck from the ordinance almost immediately.

rat poison dead fisher

An important provision about water forbearance made it to the final ordinance, so licensed growers will have to collect and store enough water for the entire growing season before May 15, and they will not be permitted to use generators or artificial lights. I know I’m sick of the generators and the lights, and I sure won’t miss them. Also language made it into the ordinance that prohibits new grows on timber land, so at least there’s that.

diesel generator exhaust

The industry turned out to lobby for larger grow sizes, and largely got them. Robert “Woods” Sutherland of HUMMAPS advocated for a 2,000 sq ft limit for the basic permit, arguing that 2,000 sq ft was as much as a couple working together could handle, but other, mostly younger growers insisted they could handle much larger grows.

big grow humboldt county

On one hand, it cheered me to see so many ambitious young people eager to invest their futures in this fledgling industry. On the other hand, not many of them looked like farmers to me. Woods looks like a pot farmer, and so does Kristin Nevidal. I saw a couple of other guys in feed-caps who looked like they could handle a shovel, but who were all of those women with the hairdos and the makeup and the fingernails? They don’t work on no farm.

fingernails and makeup

Don’t get me wrong, I want the legal cannabis industry to thrive, and I even want it to thrive here, to the degree that it doesn’t negatively impact natural habitat. I don’t fault growers for advocating for larger grow sizes. No one knows what the market for legal cannabis will look like in five years, let alone ten, so it’s hard to know what it will take to remain competitive in this business in the future. Those folks are setting out on treacherous uncharted waters, and I hope they succeed. I think the Supes want them to succeed too, because they approved grows up to 5,000 sq ft with a basic permit.

pot grower

OK, like it or not, we’ve got an ordinance, that goes into effect in 2018, that, so far, only about 300, of an estimated 8,400 growers have even expressed interest in. Try as we might, I don’t think we can regulate our way out of this mess, and ultimately, I doubt this ordinance will have much impact.

low impact

Contrary to Luke Bruner’s declaration that “The Drug War is over,” over 800,000 people were arrested for marijuana across the country last year and at least five times that many people had their pot confiscated by police, customs, airport security etc. The insane policy of prohibition that gave rise to our vigorous black market marijuana industry remains in effect at the federal level, and in 45 other states. I expect black market growers to continue to serve those markets so long as they remain profitable, and so I expect the unregulated environmental destruction associated with the black market marijuana industry to continue, and even worsen, despite this new ordinance.

unpermitted grow

Ultimately, the things that made Humboldt County attractive to black market growers, should make this place noncompetitive in the legal market. Like I said before, most of our big grows are located a long way down a dirt road, that’s a long way down a winding county road, that’s at least 100 miles from the nearest interstate. The soil there sucks, so you have to truck in all of your topsoil. Most of the land is way too steep to use, covered with trees, and prone to fire and earthquake. Also, your cell phone won’t work there. How long does pot have to be legal before people realize how crazy this is?

crazy pills

Sure, the Humboldt name might mean something to cannabis consumers, probably not as much as the name “Marley,” “Willie Nelson” or even “Indo,” but something. Because of the black market marijuana industry, we have a lot of the talent and infrastructure necessary to support the legal cannabis industry, but talent and technology are mobile. What remains here is the remote location, bad roads, expensive gas and poor soil. I can see how that makes the pot we grow here more expensive, but I don’t see how it makes it better.

expensive shoes

I Know Where the Bodies are Buried

'And then there's Jeffries... He's been with the company longer than anyone. You know where all the bodies are buried, eh, Jeffries? Ha Ha! Keep up the great work!'

It seems that I have become a lightning-rod for for a whole lot of negative truth about about the marijuana industry in Southern Humboldt. This negativity has accumulated over years, and gone unnoticed, probably because it got buried in piles and piles of groundless positivity. People really value positivity here in SoHum. We preach positivity. We expect positivity, and we want positive vibrations all around.

positive vibrations

I hate to break it to you folks, but as a musician and a radioman, I can tell you this with some authority. There is no such thing as a positive vibration. Every vibration needs a little positivity, and a little negativity, in equal proportions, one right after the other. That’s what makes vibrations vibrate, and all of the positivity in the world won’t do anything if it isn’t grounded.

ungrounded symptoms

When you focus too much on the positive, you let a whole lot of negative stuff slip by without noticing. It doesn’t cease to exist because you didn’t notice, and it doesn’t go away, It builds up, year after year, until, eventually, KABAAM. It hits you, week after week, every Monday morning.


From my perspective, I was just looking for humorous angles on life in Southern Humboldt. This is a funny place; it seems to me, and I wanted to find out what makes SoHum so funny. Then I stumbled upon this yawning chasm of irony we call the marijuana industry. The marijuana industry is the biggest snow job I’ve ever seen in my life. To me, as a humor writer, it looked like fresh powder.

fresh powder

It was fun for a while, to carve that slope, and we had a few laughs at Savage Henry, and in the first few years of Like You’ve Got Something Better To Do, but eventually I realized why the snow is so deep here. The snow is so deep here because this is where the bodies are buried. I knew that I was just skimming the surface of a mountain of bodies, and those bodies are the casualties of the War on Drugs.

drug war casualty rachel hoffman

It’s not funny anymore. This is a crime. I don’t care how comfortable you are with it, or how badly you think you need it. Marijuana money is blood money. People all over this country pay for your decadence, greed and smugness, not to mention your land, home, vehicles, vacations and drug habits with their lives, and with their blood. Here’s an example:

heres an example

A friend of mine used to have a pretty good job in the HVAC industry. He worked hard and took pride in his work. One day, on the job, a duct slipped, and a sharp piece of metal sliced his hand and arm open. The wound bled severely and required medical attention. Since this accident happened at work, it became a Workman’s Compensation claim. Workman’s Comp. required him to submit a urine sample which revealed that he had smoked a joint sometime in the previous three weeks or so. As a result of that urine test, Workman’s Compensation denied his claim, and the company he worked for, fired him. This happens to millions of Americans, who never get arrested, but pay a truly inhumane price for cannabis.

casualties demoralizing

Not only did my friend pay too much for the weed he smoked, but he got stuck with a hospital bill that his boss should have paid, lost his job, and had his reputation as a worker smeared. That’s what happens to honest hard-working people who smoke pot, all over the country. It’s that suffering and oppression that keeps the price of pot so high, and it’s that suffering and oppression that puts money into dope yuppies pockets. The price of pot is not determined by how good your weed is; the price of pot is determined by how badly the government treats the people who smoke your weed.


The War on Drugs is a real war, and it’s a real war against the American people, especially American workers. It’s been going on for decades and there’s goddamned mountain of bodies to prove it. I mean it when I say, “We’ve all, already, paid way too much for marijuana.” You don’t want that blood on your hands. Good people should not want to be involved in this kind of business.


If you love marijuana, and want to make a career of it, that’s great. I encourage you to go for it in a big way, but don’t do it in one of the last large contiguous stretches of wild habitat in the lower 48. Find someplace flat, and focus on efficiency. Figure out how to grow the best bud at the lowest price. I wish you only the best of luck, and hope you become fabulously wealthy by disrupting the black market.

colorado pot field

If you love living in Southern Humboldt, on the other hand, it’s going to take a little more imagination than it used to. We have good people in Southern Humboldt, who love living here, and love marijuana. Nobody will take our marijuana away, but then again, if the Drug War ends, nobody will take our marijuana away. We’ll have to find something else to do, and most of us should find something else to do, anyway. Do you really want that much blood on your hands?

bloody hands

It’s time to stop glorifying our outlaw status. Instead, recognize the War on Drugs for what it is, a real war, and a crime against humanity. Recognize the pain and suffering it has caused, and let’s work together, as a community, to become less dependent on it.

war on drugs cartoon

The Myth of Mom and Pop Grower


mom and pop grower

I love living in Southern Humboldt and I feel good about my niche here at LoCO. I realize that not everyone appreciates my work, but I’m happy to offer my perspective, nonetheless. I think some people in SoHum find my opinion so shocking because I say things that have been left unsaid for far too long. Dope yuppies never hear this perspective from the merchants they patronize, the non-profits they support, or the people who work for them, and they certainly don’t say these things to each other. Instead, SoHum remains an enigma, full of sneaky, dishonest, but gullible, people who have been feeding each other bullshit for decades. There’s still a lot of truth buried beneath that bullshit, so I still have a lot of work to do.


I tell the truth about Southern Humboldt because we will never solve our problems as a community, until we understand our problems, as a community. I live here. I care about this community. Back in 1990, when National Guard troops were pointing guns at your kids, I was one of the people who stood up to say that the War on Drugs was wrong, and that no one should go to jail, or lose their home, for growing marijuana. I was on your side then, and I’m on your side now.

on your side

It took an enormous effort to turn the tides in the War on Drugs, pass Prop. 215, and bring us to where we are today. To do that, it became important to convince the public that marijuana growers were decent All-American people. It wasn’t enough to convince them that growing a green plant does not constitute criminal behavior; we also had to convince the public that the people who grow, and use marijuana, were, in fact, likable, otherwise law-abiding, citizens.

law abiding citizen

We found some “poster children,” and we propagated the myth of “Mom and Pop Grower,” the “small family farmers” and the “back to the lander.” Sure, we made broad, overly positive, generalizations about the industry, and the industry was happy to help us propagate them. The industry remained underground, however, so the public had to take our word for it. Of course we overlooked some things back then, and kept our mouths shut about others, while we searched for evidence of this myth we concocted for political purposes.

big lie


Fast forward to today. The industry continues to propagate these myths enthusiastically, while the amount of stuff they expect us to overlook, ignore, and keep our mouths shut about has grown to such gigantic proportion that it is now visible from space. Ignoring the reality of the cannabis industry in SoHum is like trying to ignore a hash lab explosion in the apartment next door. You heard it. It shook the building, but you just don’t want to know how bad it is.

hash lab explosion

We don’t want to see the results of the recent explosion in the cannabis industry. We don’t want to see the clear-cuts. We don’t want to know how much water it uses, or tons of soil, or miles of plastic film, or what all the trucks that haul it do to our roads and environment. We don’t want to know about the pesticides, herbicides and rat poison, and we don’t want to know what happened to Chris Giauque or Ray Maniaci, or half-a-dozen others. Instead, we recite those wholesome old myths about Mom and Pop Grower, the “small, family farmer” and the “back-to-the-lander,” that we concocted thirty years ago to stop the government from throwing us in jail. Those stories weren’t entirely true then, but they’re laughable now.

laughable cats

As long as we continue feeding each other the same old bullshit, we never will address the issues that we can and should tackle as a community. The black-market economy undermines community values, and devalues honest work. It contributes to our high murder rate, suicide rate, and drug abuse rate, not to mention our housing crisis, among other problems. That’s a high price tag for those black market profits, but the dope yuppies don’t pay that bill. The rest of us do.

look good paying bills

The War on Drugs has crippled this community, and left our streets littered with human wreckage. We’ve got to quit treating people like it is OK to make money off the violent oppression, and brutality inflicted on millions of their brothers and sisters in the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is wrong, and a lot of the people in it are cut from the same cloth as other war profiteers, like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. They don’t care about anything but getting more for themselves. Their money will not solve our problems. Their money created our problems, and the more money they make, the more problems we will have.

mo money mo problems

The War on Drugs creates a vortex that sucks greedy opportunists into Southern Humboldt, where they exploit the land, water and the community. It’s time we stopped mythologizing them, and faced facts. I know you don’t want to hear it, but you might as well hear it from me.

'Take it from me, son - those thrilling days yesteryear weren't thrilling for everybody.'

2015 SoHum Year End Recap

2015 female-wrestlers1

As 2015 draws to a close, and I sip my holiday nog, I reflect on what has happened over the past year, in this little corner of the world we call Southern Humboldt County.


2015 started off with a little squeeze on our pocketbooks, as Measure Z went into effect. Measure Z a regressive, countywide sales tax, now forces Humboldt County’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens to pay for county services to dope yuppies, merchants and ranchers. A couple of things that didn’t happen in 2015, despite this windfall of revenue in the county coffers: Another year went by and still, there is no public wifi, anywhere within a 50 mile radius of Garberville. I realize that here in Sierra Leone, where years of bloodshed and political instability make such critical infrastructure difficult to secure and maintain… Oh wait, SoHum is in California, USA, WTF!

sierra leone soldiers

Also in 2015, no public restroom appeared on the streets of SoHum. This much talked about, and much needed, facility remained, for the entirety of 2015, confined to that rarefied space reserved for aspirational visions. At least there, nobody has to clean it. Garberville is the only town of any size between Laytonville and Eureka on 101. Many people in the hills have to drive an hour or more to get to town. However you get there, by the time you get to Garberville, the first thing you need to do is find a restroom. It’s just cruel not to have one.

trump restroom

Speaking of cruel, 2015 marked the rise in prominence of local street artist Ron Machado. Ron’s edgy assemblages of found objects, appeared all over Garberville in 2015, challenging this small town’s image of itself. Ron’s controversial work provoked much public debate, but things turned ugly in February when vigilante thugs attacked Ron, sprayed him with chemicals and set his camp on fire, filling the streets with the acrid stench of burning plastic and cultural intolerance. The attackers remain at large.

ron machado in the rain crop

Speaking of large, in March, large boulders fell from the bluffs above, blocking Redwood Drive between Redway and Garberville. Two towns, two miles apart, suddenly became two towns, 15 miles apart. This completely changed the dynamics of Southern Humboldt. For example, when we go to town for groceries, we generally visit Chautauqua in Garberville, and Shop Smart in Redway, but when Redwood Drive is out, to get from Redway to Garberville, or vice versa, you have to get on the highway. Once you get on the highway, then fuck-it! You might as well go to Eureka. Businesses in both Redway and Garberville complained about slumping sales during the road closure, and the closure lasted well into April.

bluffs closed REDWOOD DRIVE

In May, SoHum hosted a very distinguished visitor, thanks to a new organization that made a lot of waves in Humboldt County this year. California Cannabis Voice Humboldt, or CCVH, an association founded by some of some of Humboldt’s greediest dope yuppies, hired a professional lobbyist to help them push their agenda in Sacramento, and in Eureka. On May 29 Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome came to SoHum with dollar signs in his eyes. He toured a pot farm, and spoke to a packed house in Garberville.

newsom-gavin dollar signs

Newsom convened a “Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Legalization” that told the dope yuppies exactly what they wanted to hear. Newsom told us, with a straight face no less, that it was important to keep the price of marijuana high, and that the people who grow it for the black market are the best people to grow it for the legal market too. After being roundly criticized for jumping in bed with drug dealers, Newsom quietly stepped away from his legalization agenda, and took up the mantle of gun control.

Newsom declares war

At the county level, CCVH threatened to impose a new countywide cannabis cultivation ordinance in 2015, by sidestepping the supervisors, and going straight to the voters. They soon realized that the voters were even less likely to give them what they want than the supes. So far, it looks like the county will bend over backwards for CCVH, whether the voters like it or not, and our local environmental non-profits will have to sue the county for not living up to their responsibilities to the public. If that happens, we can watch our tax dollars battle our charitable donations until they both disappear in a useless cloud of legal fees and paperwork, as dope yuppies kill off the last of the wild salmon.

smoke a fish wide

Speaking of legal fees and paperwork, in June, a big posse of law enforcement descended on Island Mtn, to show us what today’s marijuana industry looks like. Just after the Summer Solstice, Deputies seized over 23,000 plants, mostly in full bloom and near harvest. These large scale “light-dep” operations have taken the cannabis industry by storm because they dramatically increase cannabis productivity. These resource intensive operations dramatically magnify the impacts of cannabis farming on the surrounding environment as well.

island mtn-tile

In addition to the many thousands of plants, deputies seized an enormous quantity, even by Humboldt County standards, of processed sinsemilla flowers, ready for market. The raids netted over 4,000 lbs of bud. Who keeps two tons of weed on hand? “Dude, it’s my head-stash.” they must have said. There are two kinds of drug dealers. The kind who use forklifts, and the kind who don’t. I guess we know which kind these were.

picture of forklift moving marijuana in warehouse

Incidentally, a few of the properties raided on Island Mountain belonged to prominent CCVH members, and outspoken cannabis industry apologist, Hezekiah Allen, who claimed he had been trying to get his name off of that property deed. If you ever have that problem again, Hezekiah, give me a call. You can sign a property over to me today, or any day, and I’ll have your name off of that title in a week.

hezekiah allen1

Also in June, Kathy Epling died unexpectedly. In many ways, Kathy Epling, was the heart of SoHum. Being the heart of Southern Humboldt, is kind of like being Dick Cheney’s heart. Like Dick Cheney’s heart, Kathy was overburdened, her needs went largely ignored, and she pumped her life into something bigger than her, over which she had no control, and only a little influence, but she gave it everything she had. She is sorely missed.

kathy epling

Speaking of nice women with difficult jobs. This summer, Cinnamon Paula resigned from her position as director of the Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce. For the last few years, Cinnamon Paula put a kind, sensitive face on the heartless greed, and fascist agenda of the Garberville-Redway Chamber of Commerce. Ultimately, though, her humanity, compassion, and sense of community mattered more to her than money. I wish I could say that about more people in SoHum.

cinnamon paula

As Summer wore on, lightning storms ignited drought stricken, tinder-dry forests all over Northern California. Compared to Lake, Trinity and Sonoma counties, Southern Humboldt emerged from the 2015 fire season relatively unscathed, but Garberville became a major staging area for firefighting efforts. For weeks, every restaurant in town had a line, five deep, of buff young men in uniform, including a large contingent of regular army GIs. As usual in SoHum, Summer dissolved into a haze of heat and intoxicating smoke, echoing to the rhythmic reverberations of helicopter blades.


Speaking of dissolving. In September. The Redway Community Services District drove a stake through the heart of the, proposed, Gyppo Ale Mill. At the height of the worst drought in recent memory, the Redway Community Services District rejected the proposed brewery’s water use application. Local entrepreneurs had hoped to capitalize on this community’s heroic, and seemingly insatiable thirst for alcohol, but it’s damn hard to make beer without water.

gyppo ale mill

No great loss. With a location in an out-of-the-way industrial park, walking distance from nowhere, it makes more sense to think of the Gyppo Ale Mill as a manufacturer of drunk drivers. Who would argue that we need more of those on our roads in SoHum?

drink and drive1

Speaking of things we don’t need more of, in September, at an annual cannabis competition event, called the Golden Tarp Awards, judges disqualified nearly half of the entries because of mold contamination. The Golden Tarp is awarded for the best “light-dep” cannabis flowers. Increasingly growers turn to these “light-dep” methods, which utilize large light-blocking tarps to artificially manipulate the length of day. Using “light-dep” techniques, some growers can produce two or three crops each season. No one seems to know why so many of these buds, hand picked by professional growers, hoping to win a contest, contained mold, but you have to wonder what quality control was like on the other nine-million tons of weed these growers produced.

golden tarp awards

Speaking of contamination. Scientist Maurad Gabriel with the Institute for Integral Ecology announced his latest findings in his study of pacific fishers. He concludes that more pacific fishers have perished due to rodenticide poisoning, and that contamination rates continue to rise. A recent survey finds 85% of pacific fishers test positive for rodenticides, up from 76% in his previous study. These elusive forest dwellers, related to weasels and pine martins, eat rodents, but lately, a significant portion of wild rodents, even in deep forests, contain large doses of rodenticide poison. Marijuana growers operating deep in the woods use rat poison to protect their crop from rodents, and sick rodents wander off to be eaten by unsuspecting fishers.


Speaking of unsuspecting, at least three people were severely beaten this past fall, by people they did not know, who woke them up by pounding the crap out of them. This Fall, like every Fall, SoHum’s population swelled with an influx of trimmigrant labor for the harvest season. The cannabis harvest season brings, far and away, our greatest influx of European tourists and European tourist dollars. Instead of seeing them as an economic blessing, and an opportunity for cultural exchange, locals treat them as an inconvenience, a nuisance and an eyesore. Local media, especially the Redwood Times, help amplify these hostilities, and so these seasonal visitors become targets for harassment and convenient victims for venting pent-up anger. No one was arrested in any of these attacks.

trimming pot

Visitors to SoHum should be aware that this area is a safe haven for dangerous violent criminals who seek out poor and vulnerable people for unspeakable abuse. Some of these dangerous violent criminals wear a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department uniform. Former Sheriff’s Deputy Daniels spent the entire year of 2015 in jail, awaiting trial on two counts of sexual assault. Two Southern Humboldt women came forward and testified that Daniels sexually assaulted them while in uniform, and on duty in Southern Humboldt. The second assault happened months after the first victim took her complaint to the DA, and Daniels remained in active duty for months after the DA took the second woman’s report. How many victims kept the abuse to themselves, rather than risk further humiliation. Why did the Sheriff’s Department fail to take the first report seriously enough to prevent the second? Perhaps we’ll find out in 2016.

daniels sargent

Finally, in December, the Clover Insurance building on Sprowell Creek Rd. was involved in a traffic accident for the second time in two months, leading to much speculation. What was this building doing out on the road so late at night? Had it been drinking? More importantly, do you want to keep your insurance policy, your safety net, if you will, in such a reckless building, especially when Miclette Insurance, right around the corner, hasn’t been involved in a single traffic accident since at least the turn of the century. I guess it’s good that Clover is in the insurance business, because with a traffic record like their building now has, it’s going to be tough for them to find an affordable policy. I for one, won’t be surprised to see the Clover Insurance building peddling a bicycle around town in 2016. I hope I see you around town in 2016 too.

clover wilson insurance bldg


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