- Theme music by Randy Clark and John Hardin
While pot industry shills like Hezekiah Allen warn of mass unemployment and economic hardship without continued taxpayer subsidized price supports for marijuana, we should realize by now that drug dealers will say anything to keep the cash rolling in. In truth, government price support programs for marijuana don’t support our local economy, here in Humboldt County, so much as they suppress it.
The War on Drugs created a windfall of profits for anyone who produces marijuana. This windfall buried our real economic potential, which we never really developed because pot paid so much better. We’ve become a marijuana mono-culture dependent on corrupt politicians, violent cops and greedy drug dealers all working together to exploit and oppress the American people. That’s not an economy; that’s a crime. Besides, most of the so-called “jobs” in the marijuana industry, aren’t even considered part of the economy.
Most people who make a living from marijuana, don’t pay into Social Security, and aren’t covered by Workman’s Comp, so they don’t count as being “employed.” Since they aren’t looking for work or collecting unemployment, they don’t count as “unemployed” either. Thanks to the War on Drugs, the marijuana industry has become a black hole that sucks people and money out of the economy and leaves a trail of poverty, addiction and death in it’s wake.
We don’t have prosperity here. We have organized crime. What’s the difference? In prosperity: people have jobs and homes and their kids get enough to eat and learn how to succeed in the world. In organized crime, people go missing and turn up dead, honest work is for suckers, and kids become addicted to drugs, and commit suicide. The difference is pretty stark really. The only way to avoid seeing the difference is to measure the cash flow exclusively. Even from that perspective, organized crime doesn’t really look like prosperity; organized crime just looks as attractive as prosperity to people who don’t care about anything but money.
Here, you could always make more money growing weed than you could make doing anything else, so growing marijuana became a “no brainer” for people around here. Consequently, we have a lot of “no brainer” type people who feel entitled to middle-class incomes and lifestyles, but have no education or skills outside of herb gardening. We’ve been overrun by dull, greedy people who believe that cannabis is the only thing of value. They don’t mind being one-trick-ponies, even if it is a kind of a dirty trick, but most of us have more potential than that.
It’s been about 10 years since Anna Hamilton first asked the question: “What’s After Pot?” The unanimous response from the community has been “More Pot!” Instead of beginning a movement to diversify our economy, people treated Anna’s wake-up call as the shot from a starting pistol that signaled the beginning of the greenrush. Everyone doubled-down on dope, but now the pressure is on.
Small growers get squeezed, and everyone’s profit margins shrink, as big players with deep pockets gamble for control of the legal cannabis market. As more states legalize cannabis, and bring industrial scale production online, the price of raw cannabis continues to drop. Downward pressure on the price of cannabis opens up more economic potential by multiplying the opportunities for value added cannabis products. The new openness of the legal market means that there’s a whole world of cannabis lifestyle products and service tie-ins to explore. However, lower prices for raw cannabis means that Humboldt County’s marijuana windfall will evaporate.
There’s plenty of economic potential here in SoHum for anyone with the imagination, ingenuity and drive to realize it. Unfortunately, 40 years of cannabis windfall has pretty much bred the imagination, ingenuity and drive out of us. Instead of facing reality and working together as a community to diversify and humanize our economy, we’re all busy milking the War on Drugs right to the last drop. The question is: What is the last drop for you? Is it $800 a pound? $500? $300? How low can you go, and still make money from weed in Humboldt County?
You can get more for your weed if you sell it retail, and work it into our tourism appeal, but then you have to be prepared for a whole bunch of unruly young people coming here to get high. We have that now, and it’s the thing people complain most about. If we want this area to remain famous for herb, and you still want to make a living from it, we’ll need to be more accommodating to pot smokers of all stripes, especially the young and unkempt.
To sell herb retail, in a legal market, Humboldt County needs to be as accommodating to unkempt hippies as fast food retailers are to obese people, or bartenders are to alcoholics. It comes with the territory. If the idea of graciously serving hippies with dogs and backpacks and making them feel at home seems repugnant to you, maybe you weren’t cut out for the marijuana industry after all. Around here, we don’t recognize our economic potential. Instead, we call the cops on it, beat it senseless on the town square, and convene town meetings on how to get rid of it.
If we suffer massive unemployment or economic hardship because of falling cannabis prices, it is only because the windfall from the War on Drugs blinded us to our true economic potential and robbed us of our moxie. If we succeed in this new legal environment, it will be because enough of us realized that we have other skills and talents that we never called on, because we always had marijuana. We may find that those skills and talents lead us in new directions and towards more satisfying lives. In that respect, falling marijuana prices just might be the best thing that ever happened to us.
With almost no compliance from growers on our current cannabis cultivation ordinance, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors is looking into crafting a new ordinance which would undo the few environmental protections that made it into the current ordinance. For instance, the proposed new ordinance allows for more new grows in forest habitat. The last thing we need in Humboldt County is more new grows in forest habitat. Destroying forest habitat to grow pot is like killing whales to make Greenpeace stickers. There’s something wrong with this picture, folks.
I don’t like the sound of it either. The new proposal would allow growers to use generators to power lights in rural greenhouses, so long as they get 80% of their power from renewable sources. This cuts no mustard with me. If I can hear your generator, you’re an asshole who should be run out of town on a rail. I don’t give a damn how many solar panels you have, you are still an asshole, and the County damn well better do something about it because otherwise I’m going to blow your motherfucking head off with a shotgun, and we don’t need any more of that kind of violence around here.
You don’t need electricity to grow weed. If you do need electricity to grow weed, there are plenty of places with flat land and convenient grid power, and you should move there, because the people who grow pot on flat, fertile land, convenient to public utilities, will put you out of business if you don’t. Most growers, who want to stay in the game, post-legalization, probably should think about moving somewhere flat and sunny, with grid electricity, on a major highway.
Now is the time to decide whether you want to be a rich pot farmer, or a poor forest gnome. If you want to be a rich pot farmer, find some land that’s suitable for agriculture, preferably in some other county, and go big. If you want to live here in the forest, then make that your priority, and realize that you’ll probably need to find some other way to make a living. Unless you’ve been spoiled rotten by your drug dealing parents and have grossly unrealistic expectations, that shouldn’t be too hard.
On the other hand, I like some aspects of this proposed new ordinance. I especially like the idea to license businesses for on-site cannabis consumption. I think it’s about time that Humboldt County growers start catering to cannabis consumers instead of drug dealers. Growing and dealing cannabis is all about money, which is boring and banal, like most growers and dealers, but cannabis culture really flourishes when cannabis consumers come together, express themselves, and interact with each other in public places. I think we need on-site consumption in Humboldt County, and I think we would do it well.
Humboldt County culture has been largely shaped by cannabis consumption. Our heritage of alternative energy and building technologies, raising money by throwing wild parties instead of with taxes, and our hedonistic history of free love and running naked through the woods testify to the kind of free-thinking creative ingenuity that cannabis use inspires. Who better than us would know how to design the kind of environment that enhances the cannabis experience?
On-site consumption opens up the whole world of cannabis culture and lifestyle. On-site consumption brings food, decor, art, music, entertainment and fashion into the cannabis industry, creating a lot more economic diversity in our community than a simple agricultural commodity ever could. This kind of direct connection makes the Humboldt brand tangible to consumers. We need on-site consumption for cannabis tourism too. We have a lot to offer cannabis tourists, and I think cannabis consumer tourism will look a lot different from the drug dealer business trips that we see today.
Drug dealers don’t like adjoining rooms in hotels, but don’t complain about the quality of overpriced food. Cannabis users care more about the quality and price of the food, and would rather camp than stay in a hotel. Drug dealers keep a low profile and spend liberally, while cannabis consumers don’t mind looking a little freaky, or complaining about being overcharged. We get plenty of both here, but we should make sure to remember that cannabis consumers, not drug dealers, drive the cannabis market. The less time we spend catering to drug dealers, and the more time we spend with people who work real jobs and buy cannabis with their hard-earned cash, the better we will understand what customers want in a cannabis product, and the more opportunity we have to connect with customers in a way that builds brand loyalty.
Of course, to earn that kind of loyalty, cannabis consumers have to like us. To make them like us, we need to make sure that cannabis consumers have a good time while they are here, whether they show up for Reggae on the River, or blow into town around harvest season. If we want cannabis consumers to patronize our product for the rest of their lives, we had better treat them right while they are here.
That’s an important lesson we need to learn as we step out of prohibition and into the free market. We’ve gotten used to the black market, where government policy props-up prices and limits competition, but in the free market, consumer choice, not government policy makes the difference between success and failure.
I love August in Southern Humboldt, triple-digit temperatures, the air hazy and thick with the ever-present smell of smoke and the hellish red tint it lends to the sunlight. Everybody’s nervous, nervous about fire, nervous about water, nervous about fish, nervous about their crop, and nervous about helicopters. Don’t forget the helicopters. Ya gotta love helicopters.
Yes, to see SoHum in all of its glory, come in August. They say sunlight is the best disinfectant, and one August afternoon in Garberville will remind you why. Nothing can survive there. In Garberville, every fiber of your being will tell you that the sun wants to kill you. You will try to accomplish whatever you went there to do, but you will become ever more stressed, fatigued, irritated and confused, by the minute, as the sun steadily beats the shit out of you, until you finally realize you must flee for your life.
For miles around, the forested hills mitigate the harmful effects of solar radiation, but Garberville has the only substantial assemblage of concrete and asphalt in the area, and it concentrates sunlight like a magnifying glass. The locals have cut down damn near every last tree in town to insure maximum solar gain. They really don’t like people hanging around town.
The proliferation of wildfires in our area seems like a wet dream for our local merchants. Every cafe and restaurant in town has a cue of at least six clean cut young men in uniform, just the kind of customer they’ve always wanted. Now they’re everywhere. I had to wait in line for lunch behind a whole platoon of regular Army GIs. I don’t think that ever happened to me in Garberville before.
2015 is shaping up to be an exceptional summer for smoke in SoHum. We love smoke in SoHum. As anyone who lives here will tell you, we have the best smoke in the world here in SoHum. Pot smoke, cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust or good ol’ wood smoke, whatever your favorite flavor, we’ve got plenty of it here in SoHum, and we’ll happily set fire to a car, a homeless person or an RV to spice it up for you.
Personally, I really love the smoke. I know it’s killing me, but for some reason I appreciate the air more when I can see it, and I find warm smoky air particularly comforting. It might remind me of something from my childhood. I vaguely remember that my grandfather smoked a pipe and kept the thermostat too high.
Speaking of too high. I love smoking weed so much that I hollowed out my toothbrush, and attached a bowl to it so I can smoke pot while I brush my teeth. That’s how much we love smoke here in SoHum, and we’ve become connoisseurs of the finest smoke. We’ve developed our appreciation for smoke to a high art. We prefer to call ourselves “smokiers,” rather than “smoke snobs,” but it’s just our way of celebrating the pure joy of breathing contaminated air.
And nothing compliments the light-headedness that comes from breathing contaminated air on a hot summer day like the ominous reverberations from the incessant beating of rotor blades. Few sounds strike more fear into more hearts around the world than the sound of an approaching helicopter. Locally, decades of conditioning by CAMP have effected us deeply. This year, the choppers are all fighting fires, but they remind us of our PTSD. …all day.
So, please, visit SoHum in August and you’ll get a warm welcome. You’ll see us at our best, and taste the air when it’s thickest and creamiest.
SoHum Vacation Guide
I know you are planning your Summer vacation right now. I live in a very tourist dependent community, and we have a lot to offer the smart vacationer here in SoHum. Whether you like to hunt, fish, hike, backpack, camp, cycle, or just sit in a hotel room between a loaded gun and a pile of cash, I want you to enjoy your stay here in SoHum and hope that you return home with many fond memories, and a trunk full of marijuana.
We love tourists here in SoHum. We love the way you take up every last parking space in Garberville. We love waiting behind your enormous RVs at the gas pumps, and we especially enjoy fishing your bloated corpses out of the ocean, because it reminds us to stay out of the water, and keeps our rescue teams well trained in case of a real emergency.
Our local economy also depends on tourist dollars. Besides the fact that none of us stay at the hotels much, none of us eat at Sicilitos Pizza or Cadillac Wok either. Neither of those businesses would survive long without a steady supply of people who don’t already know better.
So, I want to encourage everyone to come to SoHum on vacation this Summer. Enjoy the scenic splendor. Relish in its rugged natural beauty, and experience first-hand, one of the last truly wild places in the lower 48 United States, but before you embark on your SoHum safari, you should know a few things about the native wildlife, and prepare yourself accordingly.
A Guide to Enjoying the Back-Country in SoHum
Skunks we have two kinds of skunks here in SoHum, the stripped skunk, common across most of the US, and a smaller, cuter spotted variety. These smaller cuter spotted skunks have a mellowing effect on the stripped skunks. They now compete with each other for human attention. Yes both stripped and spotted skunks are extremely affectionate on the North Coast and most lack any fear of humans. If you see a skunk with its tail raised, that signals affiliative behavior and means that it wants to be petted.
Mountain Lions While mountain lions remain common in Humboldt County, most people don’t see them until its too late. Still rarer, are sightings of their oh so cuddly and playful cubs. If you happen upon mountain lion cubs in the back country, pet them, scratch their chins, get a few photos and stick close to them until their mother returns.
Black Bear We have quite a few black bears in SoHum. Bears around here have had some bad experiences and shy away from tourists, as a result, but tourists often leave here unnecessarily disappointed that they didn’t see even one bear during their entire stay. While camping in the back-country, if you want to see a bear, just slather your entire body with bacon grease before you go to sleep. If you do that at nightfall, I guarantee that you will see a bear before sunup.
Yellow Jackets Yellow jackets produce the most delicious honey. You won’t find yellow jacket honey in stores because it naturally contains a chemical euphoriant almost identical to cocaine, so trade in yellow jacket honey is banned by federal law. People around here know that yellow jackets are extremely docile, and if you sing to them, you can just stick your hand right into the nest and grab a handful of delicious, euphoria producing honey.
Gray Squirrel- DANGER!!! Gray Squirrels should be avoided AT ALL COSTS!!!– I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come upon the partially decomposed body of a tourist in the back-country where victim’s mouth and eye sockets were stuffed with acorns. Only gray squirrels can do that to a man. Red squirrels just watch, and laugh.
Elk If you’ve never ridden an elk, you owe it to yourself to try. An elk-back ride from Bear Harbor to Jones Beach is the perfect way to see the Sinkyone Wilderness Area.
Snakes most of the snakes on the North Coast are both venomous, and protected under the endangered species act, so don’t mess with them. However the western diamondback rattlesnake is exceptionally docile, and likes to be handled. Distinguished by the presence of a rattle on the end of its tail, which the rattlesnake uses to announce its presence, and attract friends. Many tourists find these snakes so cuddly and affectionate that they take them home where they become cherished household pets. Mothers find that their gentle rattling sound soothes restless babies, school children like to take them to school for show and tell, and teenagers like to show them off at parties. Rattlesnakes rarely grow longer than two to three feet in length, so they create far fewer problems in the long run than larger species commonly kept as pets, like boa constrictors and pythons.
Blue Bellied Lizard, or Fence-Post Lizard –DANGER!!!!- The bright blue hue of of this lizard’s underside tells all of nature to “Back Off!” This diminutive reptile possesses the most deadly bite in the entire Western Hemisphere. Perhaps more frightening, the blue bellied lizard can spit venom accurately, up to 30 yards. One single drop of blue belly venom in a human eye, can cause permanent blindness. If you see a blue bellied lizard in the back-country, immediately drop to the ground, close your eyes, and cover your eyes with your hands. With your hands covering your eyes at all times, crawl, on your elbows and knees, to a safe distance (about 100′).
Ticks Some ticks contain antibodies that impart to their host, and immunity to blue bellied lizard venom. Most of us locals have had so many tick bites that blue bellied lizards no longer concern us much. We all know that the best thing to do when a tick bites you is nothing. Just let it be, don’t disturb the tick, no matter how much it itches, until it bloats up and falls off on its own. That way, you can get the maximum immune boosting benefits from each tick.
Marijuana Forest rangers plant marijuana in remote parts of our National Forests to reward adventurous hikers. If you find marijuana plants while hiking on National Forest land, you’ve found a great place to camp. There’ll be water nearby, usually coming out of a pipe (you may have to cut the pipe to get it, that’s OK). Make yourself comfortable, and enjoy the free herb.
Mexican Hunters Many sportsmen from Mexico spend the entire summer in our National Forests. Most of them know the forest so well, that they know where to find all of the good marijuana patches. While they speak little, if any English, carry no hunting license, and usually hunt with automatic weapons, I’ve always found them friendly. As long as you understand that a barrage of gunfire aimed in your direction is the traditional way of saying “Welcome” in Mexico, you should have no problems with them
If you just keep these simple suggestions in mind while you explore this this natural paradise, you should have a great time on your SoHum vacation.