So You Wanna Be Legal?

“…only 83 out of an estimated 10,000 growers in Humboldt County have come forward so far.”


While many cities, counties and even the state of California have become increasingly tolerant of cannabis over these past eight years, there is still the elephant in the room — yes, the federal government.

   In 2009, then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, stated that the Feds would only prosecute medical marijuana businesses in violation of both federal and state laws. However, California U.S. Attorneys ignored  this directive, and instead, went after legitimate cannabis businesses under the guise that federal law trumped (no pun intended) state law. It started by targeting landlords who rented to any cannabis based business.

   Now U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag wants to shut down Harborside Health Center, the Costco of cannabis dispensaries based in Oakland, Calif. The City of Oakland even came forward with a legal brief stating that Harborside was an asset to the community (they remit sales taxes to the city). Ms. Haag has even threatened civil (assets) forfeiture against cannabis businesses.

   Even though 23 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws regarding medical marijuana, the feds are still the wildcard. Here in Humboldt County, the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance to regulate commercial cultivation of medical marijuana. Then, the Humboldt County Planning Department began issuing medical marijuana cultivation permits to growers to get them to come out of the dark and into the light of transparency and regulation. Unfortunately, only 83 out of an estimated 10,000 growers in Humboldt County have come forward so far. Most are afraid of sticking their heads up for fear the feds will prosecute. At best you’re looking at tens of thousands in legal fees. At worst, you lose your property, your house, your cars, your cash and any other assets you own.

   Can we just get rid of the word “medical” and make cannabis a controlled substance like cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol? Tax it, regulate it and control it. Yes, I understand that youths should not be allowed to purchase cannabis. How many high school kids drink beer? Now, we have new state laws being proposed to increase the smoking age to 21, just like alcohol. California is supposed to be the progressive state and yet we lag behind the rest of the West Coast with our cannabis laws. Let’s change that this November.



Emerald contributor since April 2019


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