In Humboldt an ideological shift must take place. After decades of criminalizing cannabis farmers, we have a chance to take a holistic approach to medical cannabis regulation. Humboldt County’s Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance can mark this shift if our Planning Department and Board of Supervisors utilize contemporary ideologies regarding the plant. We’re beginning to find out that cannabinoids promote homeostasis within our bodies, for Humboldt County – providing that a holistic cannabis policy is implemented – we can promote homeostasis within our community. Wedges have been driven for too long. As Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic and a member of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime calls on all governments to Stop the Harm (also the title of his drug policy reform campaign), so does the Humboldt Underground!
Branson leaked a UN report calling on all governments to end punitive drug policy. In his article – Finally – a Change in Course on Drug Policy – he writes:
As the UN General Assembly gears up for the first drug debate in 18 years next April, I hope this groundbreaking news will empower and embolden governments everywhere … to do the right thing and consider a different course on drug policy. In the face of overwhelming evidence, UN expert opinion, and international human rights law, it’s not decriminalization that “sends the wrong message” – it’s the continued refusal to engage, review or discuss reform.
With this being the last day the Humboldt Planning Dept and Board of Supervisors will engage community comment on the Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance. The Humboldt Underground has some ideological commentary:
- Growing cannabis should not be viewed as a crime… Harming the environment or providing cannabis to our children is a crime. The act of growing cannabis should never have been a crime. We all know the story of Anslinger tying fear mongering and prohibition together for personal gain. We know that cannabis has been used as a tool against poor and minority communities (The New Jim Crow). We know cannabis has been used in a cultural war against liberal ideologues.
- Freedom from arrest and prosecution is not an incentive to comply. The cannabis community is fundamentally built upon the idea that cannabis cultivation, use, and sale should not be a criminal act – withstanding it’s not harmful to children, environment, etc. Freedom from arrest and prosecution is seen as a right.
- Our county is economically dependent upon the plant. Conservative estimation demonstrates cannabis sales making up 25% of our local economy (Budwig). Therefore all decisions regarding cannabis must be vetted through economic factors. Humboldt County needs jobs and we are competing with the rest of the state, country, and world. We must look at legalizing cannabis as an economic opportunity.
- Medical cannabis infrastructure and talent must be folded in. Gaining compliance from a well-entrenched medical cannabis industry is not going to be as easy as granting licenses. Local government has largely shunned California’s medical cannabis industry. Incentives would help gain compliance from existing collectives and cooperatives. If cannabis farmers can demonstrate they have formed state legal collectives and/or cooperatives, a fast track to land use compliance should be established.
- The cannabis community is just as frustrated with ‘bad apples’ as police and politicians. Cannabis farmers have had to protect and vet violent elements without help from local law enforcement. Cannabis farmers are not inherently tied to violence. Negative media attention has unfairly portrayed cannabis farmers as violent and criminal. The lack of regulation and presence of large amounts of cash (due to lack of banking) has attracted ‘bad apples.’ Jewelry stores would attract crime if they weren’t allowed access to banks or local police protection.
Here in Humboldt we are survivors. We’ve seen the plight of vulture capitalism (Charles Hurwitz) and the failed War on Drugs. We are not alone in our dilemma. These are two global issues that are inherently connected via economic and social variables. Humboldt County has an opportunity to show the world a way forward – to turn a negative into a positive. The Humboldt Underground, itself growing out of our cannabis community, would like to urge our representatives to take these comments into consideration. Thank you for your time…
Per the request for action by California Cannabis Voice Humboldt and Emerald Growers Association these comments were sent via email to the Planning Department and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors.