In My Humboldt Opinion
Q: Many fear the legalization of marijuana for a number of reasons.
What are our elected representatives doing to ensure that growing
marijuana will be feasible in Humboldt County once legalization occurs?
A: There was a recent meeting of the minds at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) hosted by our Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom in regards to the pending legalization of marijuana in the state of California. Based on polling data it is likely that in 2016 some kind of legislation will be passed by voter’s to legalize and regulate the marijuana industry as a whole. How our local representatives in Humboldt handle that will determine our place at the table when it occurs. I think every reasonable minded person wants to see regulation in regards to growers here in our back yard, and that includes growers themselves. Many farmers shell out in excess of $250,000 a year on expenses and would like to do that with out the fear of getting CAMPed or their private property invaded and seized by the local Drug Task Force.
My only concern is that our Humboldt representatives may drop the ball and fail to take a pro-active approach. Legalization is a gift wrapped opportunity for this economy and I’m going to outline a few things that can be done so that once legalization occurs, Humboldt growers can do what they do best – produce the world’s best herb and keep our local economy rolling.
An obvious move to be made is to trademark goods from Humboldt County. It is important to establish and protect the brand from a legal stand point. Humboldt growers have worked diligently to establish a brand of high grade marijuana the world over. Only marijuana grown in Humboldt should be allowed to invoke the Humboldt name on their label.
Water, a critical issue for years to come was also mentioned during the forum in Los Angeles. Where will this water intensive cannabis crop be grown, and does it mean California grows less vegetable produce for it to happen? The valley grows over 8% of the U.S.’s produce in terms of agricultural value. It remains to be known if the State will approve fields used for food production to be used for marijuana production, especially when so many lay fallow due to the drought. Since the closure of two pulp mills, Humboldt only uses only 12 million gallons of the 75 million gallon per day of water right it currently possesses on the mad river water shed (Times-Standard). While some may see coincidence, I see provenance. Humboldt County Officials could easily repurpose this water for marijuana production. The only issue in the short term is that because Humboldt is not using the full extent of its water right the state could allocate the leftover 63 million gallons to a different district at any time. With the current state of the drought this is not an unlikely action the state might take against Humboldt County. In my opinion, it’s imperative that county officials find a way of retaining its rights.
My final point to make is that the Planning and Zoning commission should invest time in preparing for legalization. For instance, establishing a basic criteria for what will be ideal locations for marijuana related businesses. This will speed up the investment process for entrepreneurs as they can evaluate real estate based on such criteria and know whether it would be approved for marijuana related activity or not. The same goes for out door grow spaces. Which watersheds will likely be approved or disapproved for agricultural activity? What will be adequate water storage for growers?
By taking a pro-active approach and working on behalf of the local growers and entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry, the county will have every chance to make certain that this vital cash crop is able to flourish in our local economy after legalization. Thus ensuring that when the ball gets rolling, it’s mostly Humboldt weed that get’s rolled up.
– Connor Callahan
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