Tag Archives: marijuana

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


I Watch the Supes Make Sausage

 

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

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

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

forest-fragmentation-1949-1991

 

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

rat poison dead fisher

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

diesel generator exhaust

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

big grow humboldt county

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

fingernails and makeup

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

pot grower

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

low impact

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

unpermitted grow

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

crazy pills

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

expensive shoes


I Know Where the Bodies are Buried

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

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

positive vibrations

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

ungrounded symptoms

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

kabaam

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

fresh powder

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

drug war casualty rachel hoffman

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

heres an example

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

casualties demoralizing

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

tommy-chong-mugshot

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

drug-war_victims

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

colorado pot field

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

bloody hands

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

war on drugs cartoon


The Myth of Mom and Pop Grower

 

mom and pop grower

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

bullshit1

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

on your side

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

law abiding citizen

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

big lie

 

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

hash lab explosion

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

laughable cats

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

look good paying bills

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

mo money mo problems

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

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


‘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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