Category Archives: wildlife

Did You Celebrate Earth Day?

Celebrate Earth-Day

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

memorial day sad

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

Crucifixion-9841-2203

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

hippy on lsd woodstock

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

threats to biodiversity

 

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

sweater unravels stars

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

everything you know is wrong

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

earth-day-on-the-national-mall

eat the organic veggie hippie food,

watermellon

shop for fair-trade, creatively recycled handicrafts…

recycled handicraft

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

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

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

take a week off tree


An Open Letter to Willie Nelson

Dear Willie,

willie nelson norml

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

WilliesReserve-

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

willie nelson jimmy carter

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

me

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

babylon bucks

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

endangered in Humboldt County

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

get the fuck out

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

pot farms destroys forest

 

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

cannabis-farm

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

drug-prohibition

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

willie_nelson_better america

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

no drug causes the fundamental ills of society

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

asap pdq now

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

american workers struggle

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

Make-it-happen-

Sincerely, John Hardin

jh at bfr crop

 


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

hummap

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

new strain

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

thoreau quote

Hardin: When did you first come to Humboldt County?

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

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

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

Hardin: …but you still like living here.

Woods: Yeah.

Hardin: How did HumMAP get started.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hardin: Why did you file the lawsuit?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woods: (chuckles)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

leaf


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


Thank You Jentri Anders

jentri anders writing

I noticed that Jentri Anders chimed in with a comment a couple of weeks ago. I’m flattered that Dr. Anders took the time to read my column, and write a comment, even if she only did it to promote her book. I’m happy to recommend Beyond Counterculture: the Community of Mateel, by Jentri Anders to everyone, and to every pot farmer hoping to cash in on “the Humboldt Brand,” I can assure you that Beyond Counterculture is worth it’s weight in gold.

beyond counterculture

My column advocated using the archetype of “The Hippie” as a marketing tool, to propel the Humboldt Brand to commercial success in the newly emerging legal market for cannabis products. The Hippie is a marketing goldmine, and Jentri Anders staked our claim to it when she wrote Beyond Counterculture. Someone has got to reprint that book. We should treat Beyond Counterculture like the bible, meaning that we should point to it, thump it, wave it in people’s faces, and even illiterate people should carry it piously wherever they go. If you can read a little of it, and remember a couple of quotes, so much the better. And, finally, when the economic storms ahead have proven me right about this, we should erect a bulletproof statue of Jentri Anders on the Town Square in Garberville.

jentri mountains

Beyond Counterculture describes the hippie phenomena in the formative years of the “back to the land” movement in Southern Humboldt. This book, written as a scholarly work of social science, explains what hippies were, how they got that way, and describes what they were doing here in Southern Humboldt, before the marijuana industry took over. She portrayed hippies positively, because she could see what they aspired to, and understood what they were attempting. In other words, she was one of them. Even if hippie culture has gone extinct here in SoHum, we still have its fossilized DNA in the form of Beyond Counterculture.

dna1

By no means, is Beyond Counterculture about drugs, and it’s been a long time since I read the book, but I’m pretty sure there’s a page, early on, where she acknowledges that many of the subjects in her study reported that they had been influenced by their experiences with psychedelics. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Big Deal! Hippies took acid. Everyone knows that. At the time, however, psychedelics were perceived as a serious threat to national security. People took these drugs, and whatever they experienced, shook their belief in The System, and made them want to try something else.

drop acid

Psychedelics, including, perhaps especially, marijuana, became a threat to political control, which is why Richard Nixon declared war on them. Meanwhile, corporate interests co-opted the psychedelic movement, reducing it bright colors, flashing lights and hypnotic images drained of meaning. Products and price-tags replaced psychedelic values and ideas and what once looked like a social revolution, collapsed into fad and fashion.

psychedelic fad

The hippies were probably doomed from the beginning, for a lot of reasons, but the black-market demand for marijuana changed the dynamics of Southern Humboldt, as people discovered that big piles of cash could influence them even more than psychedelic drugs. Dr. Anders describes some of those changes in her book, including how the War on Drugs, and the emerging black market for California sinsemilla that it fueled, undermined the hippie experiment going on here.

cash and buds

Of course, in the ensuing years, wave after wave of stupid, greedy, ethically challenged social parasites invaded SoHum to exploit the injustice of cannabis prohibition. Still, SoHum remained one of the last strongholds of hippie culture, and you could still find old hippies around here as recently as the turn of the last century. Some say there’s still a few hippies out in those hills, but they say that about Bigfoot too.

bigfoot hippie

The story is all that matters now. Once upon a time, kids got so high they thought they could change the world, and they came here to do it. They tried to live differently. They gave us solar power and micro-hydro, organic gardening and permaculture, straw-bale and cobb buildings, geodesic domes and tree houses. And, they gave us California sinsemilla. Although much of the hippie experiment failed on its own, hippies succeeded in scaring the shit out of the government, who crushed them brutally. That really happened, and it really happened here. Jentri Anders’ book, Beyond Counterculture: The Community of Mateel testifies to it.

hippies garden

Why is that story important? Try to imagine, I know it won’t be easy for a lot of you, but try to imagine what it is like to be someone who likes to get high, but doesn’t want to make a career of it. Around here, when people see cannabis, they see dollar signs. They see profit, because that’s what greed sees. People get so used to equating cannabis with money, that they forget that the people who buy the stuff, value it differently.

hippie values

Cannabis, along with other plant and fungal agents, alter our perception. When we see things differently, we sometimes feel differently about the things we see. When we feel differently about things, we may choose to act differently, based on how we feel about what we see. That’s what made hippies into hippies in the first place. The pot has only gotten stronger since then, and it continues to alter consciousness in the same way.

terrance mckenna quote

Sure, people have gotten dumber in the ensuing years, but the dominant culture has gotten uglier, harder and crueler as well, so even though today’s kids have been brainwashed more thoroughly than their grandparents, they know, even more painfully, how bad the dominant culture sucks. In our hearts, we all know that the dominant culture is killing us, and it’s killing the planet. We’re all still looking for a way out, and “The Hippie” remains a symbol for that quest.

hippie-movement-is-alive-and-well

That’s why “The Hippie” continues to inspire young people in a way that dope yuppies do not, and that’s why “The Hippie” remains a marketing goldmine for cannabis. No matter how stupid, ridiculous and foul smelling you find hippies, they’re a lot more attractive than the marijuana industry, believe me.

hippie girl cute

Industrial agriculture is just too ugly to look at, and too boring to care about. Once we make the transition to a legal market, even the mystique of our outlaw status disappears. Legalization eliminates the last exciting, illegal and subversive aspect of the marijuana industry, while it sheds light on this whole festering disease that hid in the shadows for so long. No matter how you look at the marijuana industry it all boils down to this: the greed, the boring and the ugly. Nobody wants to see it or hear about it.

no-one-wants-to-see-this

So, don’t remind people that it’s all about pounds of weed and piles of cash. Instead, you’re selling a lifestyle, an aesthetic, and an attitude, steeped in history. Beyond Counterculture: The Community of
Mateel, preserves that history, so that Humboldt’s dope yuppies can cash in on it today. Thank you Jentri Anders.

jentri anders today


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.

forest-fragmentation-1949-1991

 

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


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.

bullshit1

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.'


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 134 other followers