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Today, more than six months after the deadline to apply, the Humboldt County Planning Department has issued fewer than 200 cannabis cultivation permits in the entire county. That means that more than 2,000 permit applications remain far from complete. The Planning Department has started sending notices to those applicants to let them know that their cannabis cultivation permit application will be suspended unless they complete the process and bring their operation into compliance. Of course, another 6,000-8,000 Humboldt County growers never even bothered to file applications to begin with, but that hasn’t stopped them from blowing up enormous new grows all over the county, doing an enormous amount of new damage to the environment.
Clearly, Humboldt County’s plan to rehabilitate thousands of black market drug dealers through the cannabis cultivation permit program, has failed. The permit program has failed to protect watersheds from the explosion of black market grows and failed to bring Humboldt County’s “legacy growers” into compliance. Not only that, the permit program has failed to protect consumers, and ruined Humboldt County’s reputation for clean, organic high-quality marijuana as upwards of 80% of the product from around here now tests positive for pesticides.
Instead of protecting the environment, consumers and “legacy growers,” the Humboldt County medical marijuana permit system has sparked the biggest explosion of gigantic new illegal grows in Humboldt County since the dawn of prohibition. Instead of lining county coffers with the funds necessary to mitigate the damage the black market industry has caused in our community, the permit process has multiplied the damage to the environment and the costs to the community, while creating an unmanageable burden on county bureaucracies. I’ve rarely seen a failure so complete.
We should have expected as much. That’s what we get for trusting career drug dealers and politicians. The Board of Supervisors bent over backwards to give Humboldt County’s black market growers amnesty, and to encourage them to come out of the closet. Growers testified for months about what they wanted in a permit structure, and got most of it. I couldn’t believe how many of our local enviros rolled over, and then set up shop as consultants to the industry. The strongest opposition came from “legacy growers” like HuMMAP.
The county gave the industry the deal it wanted, but the truth is, the black market marijuana industry is more about cheating the government and society than it is about producing marijuana, and old habits die hard. Humboldt’s dope yuppies never wanted legalization to begin with. They hate government paperwork. Most of them won’t even fill out a census form, let alone apply for a permit. The growers who apply, treat the permit process as their first venture into white collar crime. They’ll push limits and test every opportunity to cheat. With thousands of them working together to confound an understaffed county bureaucracy, they figure, rightly, I expect, that most of them will pull off another bumper crop of unregulated, untaxed, black market marijuana this year. It’s the same game it always was, just not as risky, and on a scale that is orders of magnitude beyond anything we’ve ever seen around here before.
Meanwhile, the problems associated with a flourishing illegal industry also increase by orders of magnitude. Our drug addiction rate has hit an all time high, and we die from drug use at ten times the state average. Last year, we set a new record for murders, and violence against the poor and homeless intensified. The county’s housing crisis has only gotten worse, and despite two new laws to criminalize poverty, and the adoption of the “Housing First” strategy, honest working people in our community go without the basic necessities of life on a regular basis because black market drug dealers have squeezed them out of the available housing.
Far from elevating Humboldt County cannabis to the status of Napa County wine, this new permit process has dragged down Humboldt County’s reputation to a new low. Thanks to our Board of Supervisors’ eagerness to partner with black market growers, Humboldt County has become the place where the black market will make it’s last stand. What Appalachia is to alcohol, Humboldt County is to herb, with our pesticide tainted, rot-lung, black market hooch, a lasting legacy of poverty and addiction that testifies to the cruelty and inhumanity of prohibition for generations to come. It isn’t pretty, but it’s profitable, for some, for now, and for our Board of Supervisors, that appears to be enough.
Last week I wrote about how our failure to address the housing crisis will ultimately force the emerging legal cannabis industry to move elsewhere in search of a reliable workforce, and about why smart growers are getting out of the business now, while the getting is good. One commenter at LoCO, who has since deleted his comment, said he was getting out of the marijuana business, and lamented that after 20 years in the cannabis industry, he had little to show for his efforts. Another commenter expressed shock and wonder that someone could work in the black market marijuana industry for so long without making more money. This commenter obviously had no experience in the marijuana industry.
The truth is, most people who try to make a career of growing marijuana, fare poorly. Growing pot is more like gambling in a casino than working a job. Legal businesses rely heavily on a stable legal system that supports their activity. From criminal penalties for shoplifting to a court system that upholds and enforces contracts, legal businesses only remain reliably profitable, because the threat of government enforcement keeps everyone honest. The black market marijuana industry enjoys no such support, and is made, largely, of people who specialize in evading law enforcement. No one plays by the rules, treachery, deceit and thievery are common, and violence is trump.
Some people hit the jackpot in casinos, but most end up losing money, or at best, breaking even. The same is true of the marijuana industry. It may seem counter-intuitive, but the same marijuana industry that brings so much money into Humboldt County, also produces unbearable poverty for far too many of the people who work in that industry. There are no stable, good paying jobs in the marijuana industry. Instead, people gamble with their lives.
Here’s something that happens every day, all day, all over the country. It happened recently to a couple of young friends of mine. They got invited to come out here to work on a pot farm, and to trim the weed at harvest time. They both put in a lot of hard work in the hot sun all Summer, weeks and weeks of 16 hour workdays spent trimming weed, and many cold November nights sleeping in soggy dome tents in the rain. By the end of last year, they had saved a good chunk of money, but they knew they could make even more, if they used the money they earned here, to buy marijuana at Humboldt County prices, take it home with them, and sell it at the prevailing price there.
Unfortunately, they got pulled-over by a cop in a state with less progressive marijuana laws. The cop arrested them, confiscated their weed, and took their money. They spent a week in jail, had to have their parents bail them out, and hired a lawyer. Not only did they lose a year of their lives and everything they earned, they still have to pay hefty fines, legal fees, and spend a year or more on probation, at least.
For a while last winter, in their scissor delirium, they thought they were doing pretty well. They went out to dinner once or twice at the Benbow Inn, bought some expensive scotch at the Redway liquor store, and donated money to KMUD. Now they’re broke, in debt, and have a criminal record. This year they’re back to try again, but they are worse off than when they started.
Something like that story has happened to almost a million people every year, for almost 50 years now, including about 800,000 last year alone. Just because the marijuana industry brings a lot of money here, that doesn’t mean that most of the people in this industry do well at it. Some do, but a whole lot more have the perception that they are doing well, for a short period of time, just like gamblers in a casino, and that feeling makes gambling, and the marijuana industry, addictive.
CAMP raids ruined a lot of people’s lives, for decades, even if they never got arrested. If you managed to put together a good year or two, and used the money to put a down-payment on a piece of property, build a house and put in a grow, you probably thought you were doing pretty well. Then, just as your plants approached maturity, helicopters showed up and CAMP smashed your whole operation. As a result of the raid, you lost a whole year’s income. Because you didn’t have the income, you missed your land payment, so you lost your land, the big down-payment you made, all of the annual balloon payments you made before they busted you, and the house you just built. This has happened to hundreds of people here in Humboldt County. Some people have sold the same piece of land, four or five times, to four or five different ambitious young growers, and gotten higher prices each time they sold it because of improvements made by each successive alleged “new owner” before foreclosure.
Cops aren’t the only hazard in this business. Mold, woodrats, mites, deer, elk, gophers and ripoffs can all ruin a crop almost as fast as CAMP. Then there’s fire. Lots of people lose their crop in wildland fires. If the plants themselves don’t burn, they might die because no one could get into the evacuation zone to water them.
One friend of mine was doing pretty well. He had acquired land and was building a house. At harvest time, he used the unfinished house as a drying shed for his crop. While drying, some of the weed fell onto a portable propane heater which started a fire that consumed the crop and burned the house to the ground. It devastated him.
Nobody has insurance in this business, and setbacks like this can take years to recover from, if they don’t crush your spirit completely. Some people never recover from setbacks like these. Instead, they fall into alcoholism and/or hard-drug addiction, which become setbacks themselves, which lead to more setbacks. After a few such setbacks, most people are pretty well screwed.
Damn near everyone in Humboldt, it seems, is on probation, parole, or has a felony conviction in their past, and our drug addiction rates are through the roof. Far from making us more prosperous as a community, the marijuana industry has become a trap that produces gross income inequity, devastates the natural environment, and unleashes an epidemic of economic refugees while it makes us feel ever more dependent upon it.
Yes, the black market marijuana industry accounts for a lot of the money that comes into Humboldt County but it also accounts for a lot of the homelessness, poverty and drug addiction we find here too. Like a casino, the War on Drugs makes a few lucky people rich, while it swindles the rest of us with games of chance where the odds are stacked against us, and like a casino, it doesn’t really produce anything, except poverty, social problems, and money. Would you care to place a bet on the future of Humboldt County?
Last year, Humboldt County instituted a a new regressive sales tax, Measure Z, that unduly burdens the poor in Humboldt County. This year, the county intends to pass a new ordinance that will infringe on our civil rights. Apparently it wasn’t enough to just send more cops out to harass the poor, which Measure Z funded, they now find it necessary to invent a new crime, for which the poor can be prosecuted. Still, no one wants to pay taxes, and no one wants to give up their rights, so how do our County Supervisors generate public support for these measures? That’s easy. They lie.
County Supervisors used the same lie for both Measure Z and this new proposed “aggressive solicitation ordinance.” That is the lie called “public safety.” Remember “public safety?” That was the lie the Federal Government used to justify marijuana prohibition too. “Public safety” is one of those big lies that fascists have used repeatedly throughout history to restrict civil rights, suppress dissent and control the public, and that’s exactly how the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors use it today. Don’t believe for one second that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors gives a rat’s ass about public safety. All you have to do is watch Estelle Fennell drive to know that public safety is the very last thing on her mind.
“Public safety” sounds like a good thing. Who doesn’t support public safety? We outlawed fireworks, so we wouldn’t have so many forest fires. We outlawed driving while intoxicated so we could cut down on the number of traffic fatalities and we mandate seat-belt use for the same reason. Those are some ways that legislators have addressed public safety concerns through legislation. We can argue whether or not these laws work, but “public safety” becomes a big lie when politicians use it, not to save lives, but to steal our money and take away our rights.
I readily admit that Humboldt County is a dangerous place to live. We face many threats to public safety here in Humboldt County, some natural, some man-made. We’re prone to earthquakes, fires, floods, tsunamis and mudslides, all of which have a long, devastating history in Humboldt County, and we can rest assured that overwhelming natural disasters will remain a predictable part of our future. We could probably save a lot of lives by spending some money now to prepare for the inevitable. In a real disaster, it would really help to have plenty of bed space in emergency shelters, and it would help even more to have people with experience running an emergency shelter, who know what to expect when disaster strikes.
Just think of the lives that could be saved in a natural disaster, if we had a full-time emergency shelter in Southern Humboldt. Think of how many people need help in times of personal emergency, and how much good it would do for the whole community to have an emergency shelter serving people in crisis as a way of preparing for the major natural disasters that will inevitably impact all of us in the future. That’s what a policy designed for “public safety” might look like. You won’t see much of that in Humboldt County.
Now ask yourself: When was the last time an “aggressive panhandler” killed anyone in Humboldt County, by panhandling too aggressively? I don’t think it has happened yet. I’m sure we would have heard about it on the news. Not one single death by “aggressive panhandling” in Humboldt County in as long as I can remember. I don’t ever recall hearing about a single injury, not even a bruise, caused by “aggressive panhandling” anywhere in Humboldt County, have you? The “public safety threat” posed by aggressive panhandling is entirely imaginary. We can only imagine how an aggressive panhandler might possibly threaten public safety, because we’ve never had a single aggressive panhandling related injury in Humboldt County in as long as anyone can remember.
On the other side of the coin, reckless drivers, like Estelle Fennell, kill and injure dozens of Humboldt County residents every year. Out-of -control drivers on the Briceland-Thorne Road constitute a serious threat to the public safety of the citizens of Southern Humboldt, but none of the money from Measure Z goes towards traffic enforcement West of Redway. Instead, the cops cruise around Redway and Garberville harassing poor people all day, poor people who do not own cars or drive cars, have not committed any crimes and do not pose any threat to public safety.
The cops themselves pose a serious threat to public safety. We have some of the most violent cops in the state. The Eureka Police Dept leads the state in police shootings, and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Dept is famous for torturing locked-down non-violent protesters by swabbing pepper-spray in their eyes. This we know for sure. Complaints and allegations of police abuse have only multiplied since then, and the EPD still refuses to turn over dash-cam video from an 2012 incident reported by Thadeus Greenson in the NCJ. Cops around here remain largely above the law which makes this threat to public safety even more insidious and dangerous.
But wait, there’s more.
Dead bodies turn-up every month or so around here, and most of these deaths appear to be connected to the black-market marijuana industry. Hash labs explode every week or so, maiming and killing residents and destroying homes all over Humboldt County, and at least a dozen people, probably more, mostly young people, die in black-market drug deals every year in Humboldt County. Hundreds more die violent premature deaths in the black-market marijuana industry across the country every year in the process of selling Humboldt County marijuana. Not only does Humboldt County’s black-market marijuana industry dramatically impact public safety here in Humboldt County, we have become a public safety menace to the rest of the country.
Speaking of black-market drug deals, we have some of the highest drug addiction and drug overdose rates in the state. We consume the equivalent of 14 Vicodin tablets every day, on average for every man, woman and child in Humboldt County, and that doesn’t include all of the heroin, meth and cocaine we consume. Drugs kill hundreds of people in Humboldt County every year. The deadly combination of an entrenched black-market coupled with our culture of addiction, poses, by far, our most serious threat to public safety here in Humboldt County, and the bright red cherry at the top of this public safety crises sundae is Hepatitis C.
Humboldt County has been recognized as the most prolific breeding-grounds for Hepatitis C in the entire USA. The Hep-C epidemic threatens to overwhelm our public health system even without a natural disaster. Despite new treatments, complications of Hepatitis C claim tens of thousands of lives across the country every year.
Welcome to the heart of the Hep-C generation, and you are welcome for that brief rundown of genuine public safety concerns that the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors could be working on at this very moment, were they not so busy lying to you, stealing your money and shutting you up. So, the next time your County Supervisor or your local newspaper tries to convince you that we need this new, unconstitutional, free-speech stifling, fascist police-state style “aggressive solicitation ordinance” in Humboldt County for “public safety” you will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lying to you.
I have no faith in government, but I still vote. I don’t blame you if you don’t, but I don’t want anyone to say: “American democracy would have worked, if only you had done your part.” I’ve voted every election since Reagan defeated Carter. The country went down the toilet anyway. I know that democracy is a sham, but I still play along and hope for the best, mainly, because voting is so easy. It’s like filling out the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes form. You know you haven’t already won, but you were bored enough to open the envelope, so now you might as well mail at least part of it back, before you throw the rest away.
This year, we have an open senate seat in California as Senator Barbara Boxer resigns. A whole slew of candidates have declared their intentions to fill that seat. Thirty-five names will appear on the ballot, but even if you don’t follow politics, you have enough information to make a pretty good choice just based on the candidate statements in the voter guide.
First, of the 35 listed candidates, only 21 submitted, and paid for, candidate statements. That’s 14 candidates you can eliminate right off the bat. If you don’t have it together enough to prepare a statement, or don’t have enough cash to buy the single most important campaign ad, you lose. Whoever you are, better luck next time.
I also eliminated the candidates who paid the fee to have a statement in the voter guide, but then couldn’t be bothered to write one. I couldn’t believe how many candidates did this. Pamela Elizondo, Jerry Laws and Don Grundman manage to distinguish themselves with their ineptness, by wasting money that the fourteen mentioned above, saved. Btw, for all of you candidates: A URL is not a statement. You are not running for senator from cyberspace. If you can’t be bothered to write a statement for the voter guide, there’s no way in hell I’m going to look at your web site.
We’ve already eliminated half of the field, but we can winnow it down still further by eliminating the candidates with exceedingly short, cryptic statements. Inscrutability is not a characteristic I look for in a candidate, but if you do, you might like Jason Hanania, who has distilled his position on all of the important issues facing the US today, down to a single binary byte: 01100101. Does that mean anything to anyone?
Perhaps you prefer Karen Roseberry, with her inscrutable message: “S.A.V.E. The future.” What does S.A.V.E. Stand for? Some Atheists Value Ethics? Still Against Virtually Everything? Sexually Active Vagina Energy? Well, at the very least, S.A.V.E. must stand for something, and so far, that’s more than we can say for most of the candidates in this race.
Then we have the ESL candidates. I want my senator to understand what is being said to them, and I want to understand what my senator says to me. Some candidates clearly have difficulty relating to people in Americanized English, and reading their statements gives the strong impression that a great deal of their message has gotten lost in translation.
Akinyemi Olabode Agbede, for instance, urges us to: “Rescue America, Rescue America, Rescue America. Let us together rescue America from turning into a third world country. Enough is enough of American deep suffering. People in Washington has collapsed this country. Therefore electing Dr. Akinyemi Agbede as your next United States Senator representing the golden state of California 2016 is the answer in order for our country to be reclaimed back.”
That reads like a Nigerian email scam, doesn’t it? I’m afraid that if I vote for Dr.Akinyemi Agbede, he’ll drain my bank account and encrypt all of the pictures on my computer. I can’t risk it. I’m much more tempted to vote for another ESL candidate: Ling Ling Shi.
The giant panda? There’s no picture accompanying this candidate’s statement, so I can’t say for sure. I didn’t know a giant panda could run for senate, and I thought Ling Ling was on loan to the Washington DC Zoo from China, but perhaps in the ensuing years she’s become a naturalized US citizen, now based, apparently, in Rancho Cucamonga.
I find Ling Ling’s message quite endearing: “Run for God’s heart and America’s Freedom, challenge 10 giant chaos in economy and economy related sectors.” That’s damn good English, for a panda bear, if you ask me, but not quite what I expect from a US senator. Ling Ling the Panda vs 10 Giant Chaos sounds like the title of a Manga comic book. I can imagine this sweet big-eyed panda bear facing the unbelievably evil forces of 10 Giant Chaos, bravely, resolutely and against all odds, but I can’t imagine Ling Ling the Panda as my senator.
Nor can I imagine voting for President Christina Grappo: “My education & expertise merits this prolific occupation to represent California, as United Senator.” Clearly your education and expertise do not extend to the use of the English language. “I hold a Democratic Party platform with key issues of gun control, human trafficking, balancing the national deficit and foreign policy initiatives.” That’s not a degree, you know. “I am mainstream Facebook in social media!” How about that? Me too! “My core values drive America!” Drive us where, exactly? For President Christina Grappo, I fear that not only is English a second language, but also that reality is a second home.
Now we get to the candidates who appear to have been raised here in the US, by people who spoke English, but for some reason, just never took to it, even as a first language. Paul Merrit’s pidgin English and poor spelling took him off of the increasingly short list of candidates with a realistic chance of earning my vote.
“Merritt adheres that President Reagan’s idea on small government is best.” I think I know what that is supposed to mean, but I expect my senator to say it better than that. Then again, “Merritt supports Senator Feinstein’s boarder security fence…” Boarder? You mean like snow-boarder? I’m not worried about snow-boarders. If he meant “border,” but was too stupid to know better or too careless to proofread, then he’s too stupid and careless to vote for. Bonus: Merritt served on four homeowner’s association boards. This should tell you what kind of idiots make up these homeowner’s associations.
Herbert Peters may know a bit about American History, but he never quite got the hang of English grammar and punctuation. He begins with the sentence fragment “Andrew Jackson Democrat.” followed by “Our first 70 years; our county grew and flourished.” He uses a semi-colon as though he couldn’t decide between a period and a comma, and then cleverly found a key that printed both. What “county” is he talking about? He means “country,” but what he means doesn’t matter because he lacks the means to communicate it.
Where Herbert Peters uses too much punctuation, Jason Kraus doesn’t use nearly enough. His first sentence works for him: “Each election Californians are saddled with the same problems, same issues, and same faces.” But watch what happens next: “Politicians beg for our money making promises that will never be kept.” Why would they beg for our money making promises, if they knew we would never keep them? A single comma would have made that sentence make sense. He continues: “Remove all forms of income tax which will increase employment, ignite our economy, and protect our way of life.” Those sound like the good forms of income tax, if that’s what they do. Don’t they? Again, a comma makes all the difference.
We can take out one more candidate on grammar alone. I’m not, not voting for Mike Beitiks because his “platform is narrow,” and I’m not, not voting for Mike Beitiks because he swears “on the graves of future Californians.” No, I’m not voting for Mike Beitiks because of the double negative contained in his unbelievably uninspiring campaign slogan: “I will not do nothing.” I just can’t support such a negative campaign.
So far, we’ve easily eliminated 26 of our 35 potential candidates for US Senator just based on basic literacy. That leaves just 9 remaining candidates, the top 25%, who were able to cobble together a few sentences in English that made sense. How does it make you feel to know that only one in four of your candidates for US Senator can write at a high-school level?
Really, just nine, out of 35, and of those nine, two are just barely high-school level. Both Tom Palzer and Tim Gildersleeve, opted for statements that were only two sentences long. How much can you say in two sentences? Now we’re down to seven. At this point, I don’t care whether I agree with them or not, I’m just glad to read a statement from anyone who seems at least marginally literate.
I like Don Krampe. I’d never vote for him in a million years, and he looks like he’s a million years old, but he seems like a nice guy, and at least he knows how to write a statement. I wouldn’t blame people for voting for Von Hougo. I wouldn’t vote for him myself. I don’t buy his pitch for a new “voter driven platform,” but I’m glad that a youngster like him has the English skills to make his pitch. Duf Sundheim actually seems to have some writing talent. I wouldn’t vote for him for senator, but I could imagine him as a sportswriter. Greg Conlon’s statement reminded me that no amount of English skills can make greed more interesting or attractive.
Speaking of interesting and attractive, check out Massie Monroe. She looks great in that turtleneck, and check out that first sentence: “My candidacy represents the United States Constitution, the only contract between the people of America, and America’s government ‘Of the people, By the people, For the people’ to be restored and strengthened in America and extended to the UN as a contract between all people of our world through US leadership and diplomacy.”
OK, technically, that’s a sentence. It’s a mouthful, but what does it mean? It sounds like Constitutional conservatism at first, but then it turns towards world domination there at the end. She continues, “International bankers, multinational corporate leaders, militaries and police must all 100% obey, comply with the Constitution of the US/UN in the Spirit of Truth, Serving All in Peace.” I wonder how much violence it will take to force “all militaries and police” around the world to “100% comply with the Constitution of the US/UN in the Spirit of Truth?” She’s definitely talking about world domination. I don’t favor world domination myself, and I don’t feel nearly so strongly about the Constitution as she obviously does, but sure babe, you paid your fee, and you can write, so it’s your right.
She gets weirder, promising “the new ‘Energy Technology Era will saturate US job markets for the next 500 years.” That’s a long time. Her “campaign represents ending international bankers rule… ending mind control slavery; ending non-consensual human experimentation… practicing Christ consciousness and implementing constitutional justice under the leadership of the US/UN.” As qualifications, she states “Through my national and international research and political activism, I identified ‘mind control slavery’ by satellite energy technology weapons and social engineering programs that have been in continual development for the past 50 years and facilitated their ‘declassification.” I want to believe, Massie, I really do, but I don’t believe I will vote for you.
That just leaves: Loretta Sanchez and Kamela Harris, the only two, out of the entire field of 35 who can write, aren’t completely wrong, and aren’t completely crazy.
I really liked the angle Loretta took on her statement. She told us what we needed. Then she told us why she has what it takes to be what we need. She writes strong and clear, and ultimately, she stands on her record. I want my senator to know how to write, because if you can’t write well, you probably don’t think well either. Loretta Sanchez can write, and she said enough of the right things. Outstanding!
Kamala Harris blows it on the first sentence: “My name is Kamala Harris.” We know that. I guess I’m glad she knows that too, but her second sentence doesn’t help much either: “I am running for the United States Senate because…” Again, we already know that. She uses the passive voice in all four of her first four sentences. Is anyone still awake after that?
Then she states: “As a lifelong prosecutor…” like she routinely convicted drug kingpins at recess back when she was in Elementary school. Blah blah blah. Why are people voting for this woman? Is she hot? In her picture, she looks like she might be hot. If she thinks she’s hot, that would explain a lot. That would explain the “My name is Kamala Harris.” Maybe Kamala thinks she can win the election with her picture and name recognition.
Personally, I think Loretta Sanchez looks pretty hot in her picture too, in that cheerleader kind of way,
…and she’s got something that Kamala Harris can’t even buy, apparently, and that is “voice.”
What planet is Estelle Fennell from? She sure isn’t from anywhere near Southern Humboldt, that much was apparent at last Wednesday’s 2nd District Candidates Debate. Bonny Blackberry’s Rights Monitoring Project hosted the debate, and Bonny Blackberry herself moderated the event. She still calls her organization the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project, but if you’ve listened to her radio show on KMUD lately, you know that Bonny Blackberry doesn’t really care much about people’s rights anymore.
Back during the War on Drugs, I used to think the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project was one of KMUD’s best shows, a unique shining example of what community radio should be. Bonny challenged the police and held them to account. She stood up against profiling, invasive surveillance, illegal searches, and code enforcement inspections. She taught people how to invoke their rights, preserve their rights and demand their rights. She helped this community hold the police state at bay, and her work made a huge difference in how the cops around here treated people.
Not any more. Lately, Bonny just whines about the Supervisors and the Sheriff not doing enough to protect the income of so called “Mom and Pop” growers. It’s about time she changed the name of the show, or better yet, took it off the air to make room for something else. We need a good show about civil rights around here, that’s for sure, but it’s a shame to see the CLMP show go so lame, and I’m afraid it’s time to put it out of its misery.
That said, I do appreciate that Bonny put together this forum so we could hear the two candidates competing to represent us on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. Side by side, in a room full of SoHum people, the contrast was remarkable. We have a unique culture here in Southern Humboldt. We look at the world differently, and we think differently. We look at the world differently, and we think differently, because we smoke the best weed in the world, all day long, every day, or at least we did, for long enough. For all of our many differences, cannabis unites us, enlightens us, and makes us who we are.
Which leads me to wonder: Where is Estelle from? Even during her long tenure as the voice of KMUD’s Local News, Estelle sounded so unlike anyone else I’ve met in SoHum that I could scarcely believe the News was really local. I knew that the stuff she reported happened around here, but I didn’t know anyone around here who talked like her. Listening to Estelle at Wednesday night’s debate reminded me of her days as KMUD’s news anchor.
On the News, Estelle spoke in complete sentences built for efficiency. There were no flowery hippie colloquialisms, no Rastafarian religious references, no expletives or imitation ghetto slang in her reports. She asked relevant questions and sometimes even follow-up questions. No one around here does that, and no matter how many strange occurrences she reported, Estelle never suggested that the freemasons, Jewish bankers, the Catholic Church, Skull and Bones, the CIA, FBI, aliens, or even an alignment of celestial bodies was responsible. Who was she protecting?
More importantly: Who was she working for? Estelle lost her job at KMUD because of her blatantly slanted coverage of the Reggae Wars. Estelle went to the mat for crooked concert promoter Carol Bruno, in an embarrassing, unsuccessful attempt to quell public outrage over the fact that Bruno had just swindled the Mateel Community Center out of a quarter of a million dollars. Estelle’s hidden agenda only became too obvious to ignore when she dove deep into the muck in that last ditch effort to save Momma Moneybags.
I told you last week what I thought of Journalism. Well, the only people who lie more than journalists, are lawyers and politicians. Estelle decided to skip law school. Instead she found a new puppet master in a cadre of greedy developers who used their money and her slick low-key delivery to take over the Board of Supervisors.
Once there, she helped them secure gigantic subsidies for their McMansion developments, and raised taxes on the poorest people in the county to pay for it. Then she screwed over the back-to-the-landers, who put her in office in the first place, and sold out to greedy mega-grow greenrushers, giving them a green light to destroy the environment and ruin our quality of life with the recently passed medical marijuana ordinance.
That’s her record. She’s a liar for hire, and just like when she worked at KMUD, she draws a paycheck from us all, but she only really works for the ones who pull the strings. She’s been playing the rest of us for rubes for decades. Why would she stop now?
Bud Rogers, on the other hand, revealed himself as a true man-of-the-people at last Wednesday’s debate. His sentences may run on for weeks without reaching conclusion, but you can tell by listening to him that Bud Rogers smokes a lot of really good weed. We need someone who smokes a lot of good weed on the Board of Supervisors. The Supervisor from the Second District should have a bong on his desk (I know I would). We should insist that our Supervisor use it, religiously, before every meeting.
It’s hard to lie convincingly when you are stoned. Most stoners are too lazy to even try. That’s the beauty of cannabis. Cannabis reminds you that telling the truth is easier than lying. We should insist that the 2nd District Supervisor get absolutely wrecked on some of SoHum’s best cannabis before every Supervisors meeting, just to keep them honest. Bud Rogers could handle it. You know he could.
We need more Bud on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors. We need an honest stoner to represent Southern Humboldt. If you don’t smoke weed every day, all day, you have no business representing this community. You just don’t get it. You’re not one of us. Bud Rogers is one of us.
Like you, Bud Rogers smokes a lot of really good weed. Like you, Bud Rogers loves living in the woods. He doesn’t want to go to the courthouse in Eureka any more than you or I do, but unlike you and me, Bud Rogers is willing to drive to that goddamned courthouse every fucking week, and listen to everybody’s complaints, and do his level best to make the best sausage possible for the people of Southern Humboldt, because he cares about us, and he cares about this place.
Bud has graciously made this sacrifice for the people of Southern Humboldt because no one else would step up to the plate. You can tell by listening to him how much Bud loves this community, and he doesn’t like what’s been happening around here with Estelle in the driver’s seat. None of us do. We’re sick of the mega-grows and the generators and don’t like the new ordinance that encourages them. We’re sick of the war against the poor, and endless hand-wringing about our lack of housing, and we’re sick of greedy land developers pulling the strings of our elected representative in Eureka.
We need Bud Rogers now more than ever. It’s time we put one of our own in the 2nd District Supervisors seat, instead of some slick-talking alien with a hidden agenda. With Bud Rogers in the Supervisors seat, SoHum will never again be taken unawares by Annunaki lizard people bent on enslaving humanity. Bud Rogers is hip to their M.O. He knows who’s seeding the clouds and he recognizes the secret handshake of the New World Order. Don’t let anyone tell you that these are not concerns for the County Board of Supervisors. The Illuminauti work at every level, and Bud Rogers is the only candidate willing to face their looming menace.
I don’t know why, but I just feel the spirits calling Bud to shake off the old paradigm and lead our consciousness to a whole new spiritual level. Like the Lion of Judah, Bud Rogers will smite the lies of Babylon with righteous herb and bring peace, justice and freedom to Jah people of SoHum. Shit man, you gotta vote for Bud bro, he’s your homeboy. However you say it, Bud Rogers is the best choice we have for 2nd District Supervisor, and it’s up to us to give him the job.
You still have time to register for the June 7 election.
It seems our local dope yuppies have tired of the word “marijuana.” They would prefer us to call their product by the more civilized, Latin name, cannabis. They tell us that marijuana is a derogatory term with racist overtones. They want us to think of them as respectable business-people offering a respectable, up-scale luxury product. More importantly, they want us to forget that the only reason anyone would ever think of cannabis as an upscale luxury, is because the US Government spent billions of the taxpayer’s dollars to arrest and incarcerate millions of American citizens in the War on Drugs, to make this common weed, astronomically expensive.
When Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom came to SoHum last Spring, to launch his plan to keep marijuana expensive, by employing the maximum number of law enforcement officers imaginable to regulate it, many growers complained about his use of the term “marijuana.” Newsom pointed out that all of the laws against it, call it “marijuana,” so it made sense to use the term “marijuana” in legislation designed to replace those laws. I thought it a ridiculous complaint, but grower after grower took issue with him about it.
What a laugh! The people who now proudly admit that they profited, for decades, from the institutional racism known as the War on Drugs, and today, pay lobbyists to concoct a legalization policy that continues to suck money out of urban, low-income communities, and funnel it into the pockets of cops and white, rural land-owners, want the rest of us to stop using the term “marijuana” because they find it culturally insensitive. They sounded like KKK Clansmen, lobbying for the repeal of the 19th Amendment, demanding that lawmakers refer to the people they hoped to openly own, as African Americans, rather than Negroes, because the term made their property sound more valuable.
Prohibition allowed white rural land-owners to keep marijuana as their slave for decades, and racist Drug War policies brought a tremendous flow of money into Humboldt County, largely from poor, urban communities. Now that we have become economically dependent on it, society has finally risen up to demand an end to the injustice of the War on Drugs. The end of slavery brought economic upheaval to the South. Many fought and died in defense of the indefensible, but who would argue today that we should reinstate slavery for its economic benefit?
Today’s dope yuppies are just like those old southern plantation owners. They don’t care how cruel, violent and wrong prohibition is. All they care about is their money, their property, and their way of life. They’ll fight to protect all three, even if they wouldn’t lift a finger to end prohibition and couldn’t care less about the rights of oppressed people or racial injustice. They’ll fight for their way of life, even if it destroys our community and stifles the kind of economic diversity that would ease our dependence on prohibition, and help us transition to a post-Drug War economy.
I sympathize with the people who would argue that cannabis deserves respect. I took Jack Herer’s advice on nomenclature to heart when, at the height of the War on Drugs, I co-founded Mass. Cann. The Massachusetts Cannabis Reform Coalition. I chose my words carefully when I went door to door, back in 1991, asking people to support a medical cannabis ordinance in Cambridge, MA. I like to play with words, but I take them very seriously.
Today, in the waning years of the War on Drugs, times have changed. It’s time to talk openly and honestly about our relationship with this plant. This plant is a big part of my life, and one word isn’t nearly enough to describe it. Just like the Eskimos, who have something like 50 words for snow, I need many words for weed.
I use the word “marijuana” because it’s the familiar name, the common name, and the name everybody knows. Cannabis could be a shirt, a ream of paper, a bottle of machine oil, a sack of pet food or a million other products, but everyone knows that “marijuana” gets you high.
I like the word “marijuana” precisely because it conjures up the whole ugly history of prohibition. The word “marijuana” reminds us of what we’ve been through. I call it marijuana because I paid prohibition prices for it. I call it marijuana because I’ve been denied jobs because of it, and I call it marijuana because I’ve been to jail because of it.
Call it “marijuana” so the no one ever forgets that millions of American citizens had their lives turned upside-down, and their futures shattered by a cruel, violent and racist war waged against the American people by the US Government. Call it “marijuana” because it is the common name of a common plant, and there’s nothing upscale about it. Call it “marijuana” because it’s a lovely name for a beautiful plant, and the people who love her have called her that for generations.
Marijuana. It just sounds so good. I think I’ll have some right now.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.`
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Introduction: I read today that the average age of the 30 most popular Christmas songs is 61 (Thanks you Harper’s Index). So I figured, “Hey, if people can listen to the same old Christmas songs they’ve heard a million times, every Christmas, they won’t mind rereading this old Christmas classic that first appeared in Savage Henry #7, The Holiday Issue, way back in 2010. It appeared here at lygsbtd a couple of years ago as well, but in the spirit of holiday tradition, and with apologies to my most dedicated readers, here we go again. Happy Holiday of Choice.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in Humboldt
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through Humboldt County
Not a creature was stirring, not even Sheriff Mike Downey
The herb was all trimmed up and packed into bags
For smokers of taste, who will not smoke swag
Me in bed naked, my wife in her panties
It’s that time of month, so it’s the ones that are ratty
When out at the gate there arose such a racket
I got out of bed and threw on my jacket
Put on some pants and picked up my rifle
So they’d know I was serious and not to trifle
I stepped out of the door and into the rain
“To be out in this shit, this guy must be insane”
I thought to myself as I trudged up the path,
“This better be good or he’ll feel my wrath”
What did my dumb struck eyes then behold,
But a bearded old man in a late model Olds
I yelled, “It’s Christmas Eve, are you out of your mind?”
He said, “I’m Jewish, you’re Pagan, why’s this a bad time?
My friends all need weed, and I’ve plenty of cash,
At $3,000 a pound, I’ll take your whole stash”
I thought to myself, “Well that’s quite a laugh,
These days I’d a probably sold it for half.”
He showed me a bag that was packed full of bills
So, I opened the gate and we drove down the hill
I made up some coffee, and rolled up a jay
And showed him a few of the buds on the tray
He said, “This is the stuff that my friends all love.
They say that your stuff is a cut above.
They’ll pay what I ask for all I can get.
Did you have a good year? Is it all trimmed up yet?”
“This year I grew more than ever before,
It’s weighed up in bags just behind that door.
You can inspect it while I count this cash,
Hand me that ashtray, and I’ll knock this ash.”
We packed all the weed in the trunk of his car.
I said, “You found me out here, you must know where you are.”
“Oh yes, he said, “I know my way around here,
And I’ve many more stops to make, far and near.”
He started the car, and then turned on the lights,
And I heard him say, as he drove out of sight,
“Marijuana to all, and to all a good night.”