Tag Archives: ganja

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


Call it Marijuana

call it marijuana

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.

priceofweed.1

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.

complaint dept

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.

Clansmen for tolerance

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?

Rebel Pride

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.

end the drug war.jpg

 

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.

play-with-words

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.

eskimo igloo

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.

lets-get-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.

drug war casualty rachel hoffman

 

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.

pot sounds whack

Marijuana. It just sounds so good. I think I’ll have some right now.

lets go smoke some weed


The Humboldt Brand

humbolodt brand

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

culture is your brand

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

who gives a fuck seriously

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

guess gandalf

 

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

HIPPIES 12

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

hippie box

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

hippies grow pot

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

shut up hippie

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

hippies smoke weed in a circle

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

cowboy stuff-vert

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

Classic Humboldt Honey Poster.

Classic Humboldt Honey Poster.

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

buy-hippie-clothes

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

beaten up

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

dirty hippies


Marketing Cannabis

market cannabis

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

so high cant remember

 

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

central focus

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

good weed

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

boring stoners1

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

obamas garden

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

girls smoke joints

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

miller time

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

budweiser party

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

willie nelsons weed brand

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

island of tears-vert

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

youre not going to like it return


‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in Humboldt

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.

i say happy holidays

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in Humboldt

santa smokes joint

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through Humboldt County
Not a creature was stirring, not even Sheriff Mike Downey

sheriff downey santa
The herb was all trimmed up and packed into bags
For smokers of taste, who will not smoke swag

bags of weed
Me in bed naked, my wife in her panties
It’s that time of month, so it’s the ones that are ratty

santa pinup
When out at the gate there arose such a racket
I got out of bed and threw on my jacket

christmas fuck this
Put on some pants and picked up my rifle
So they’d know I was serious and not to trifle

santa rifle
I stepped out of the door and into the rain
“To be out in this shit, this guy must be insane”

Flooded_Santa
I thought to myself as I trudged up the path,
“This better be good or he’ll feel my wrath”

santa boxing
What did my dumb struck eyes then behold,
But a bearded old man in a late model Olds

santas oldsmobile
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?

athiest battle scene
My friends all need weed, and I’ve plenty of cash,
At $3,000 a pound, I’ll take your whole stash”

your whole stash
I thought to myself, “Well that’s quite a laugh,
These days I’d a probably sold it for half.”

santa died laughing
He showed me a bag that was packed full of bills
So, I opened the gate and we drove down the hill

santas cash
I made up some coffee, and rolled up a jay
And showed him a few of the buds on the tray

buds on the tray
He said, “This is the stuff that my friends all love.
They say that your stuff is a cut above.

weed is better
They’ll pay what I ask for all I can get.
Did you have a good year? Is it all trimmed up yet?”

santa trimming
“This year I grew more than ever before,
It’s weighed up in bags just behind that door.

piles of pounds
You can inspect it while I count this cash,
Hand me that ashtray, and I’ll knock this ash.”

joint ashtray
We packed all the weed in the trunk of his car.
I said, “You found me out here, you must know where you are.”

you-are-not-lost
“Oh yes, he said, “I know my way around here,
And I’ve many more stops to make, far and near.”

salmon creek dope map
He started the car, and then turned on the lights,
And I heard him say, as he drove out of sight,

rainy night road
“Marijuana to all, and to all a good night.”

free weed for everyone oprah
The End


This Kind, Wonderful Community Called SoHum

sohum community

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

homeless in sohum

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

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

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

park-boat-in-boat

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

workers transplant cannabis

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

thankful for cannabis

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

big grow humboldt county

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

pile_of_marijuana

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

take advantage

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

hippie couple

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

carlin quote ass kissers

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

start from scratch

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

brown noser jlo

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

nobody cares

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

ron machado in the rain crop


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