Marijuana Farmers Slide off the Mantle of Secrecy: A Grower’s Guild is Born

Placards invite like-minded individuals to sit together at Tuesday night’s meeting known as What’s After Pot.

Last night, the Redway Mateel  Center in the southern heart of Humboldt County held a precariously balanced collection of  about 200 people–each of them worried in their own way about how marijuana legalization would change their area. Gathered around long tables with placards defining various aspects of the community–business owners,  215 patients, government officials, non-profit representatives, growers etc.–knocked elbows and shared ideas in the crowed room. Anyone who felt troubled by the possible passage of some form of legalization was invited and many showed up. In an area known for its fear of government intervention and undercover cops, one seat was even designated humorously for the FBI.

In the beginning, the one table labeled Growers was sparsely populated as people carefully choose less controversial areas to sit in.  The scorn of two brave souls however at that table, soon drew  a small collection which swelled to make that section so crowded that those choosing that designation had to convene outside before the meeting was half over.

Many other tables rapidly shrugged off what they felt was the necessary facade of using the labels on the placards in front of them to define who they were and began speaking as growers to fellow growers no matter what word the placard in front of them carried.

Within minutes the “stakeholder” groups, as the various constituencies were called, began passionately talking amongst themselves about what they had been concerned with for awhile–how the probable legalization of marijuana was going to squeeze financially both the growers and the area they love.  Some argued that with the removal of  anti-cannabis legislation would come opportunity for growth and an influx of money and people eager to be part of the expanding social order.  However, most were concerned that removing the criminal status from growing would also remove the lucrative black market.  And, underlying nearly every conversation was the fear that with legalization would come the corporatization of  a business that is, in Humboldt, mainly small Mom and Pop growers. What would happen if R. J. Reynolds began selling acres of weed? What would happen to their income, of course, but also what would happen to their county and to their cannabis?  Would an inferior product be mass marketed?

Like farmers every where, the growers worried that if prices drop precipitously, they won’t be able to make payments on their property and, especially in the current economic climate, they will loose their business and they will lose their piece of property– their piece of  Paradise. In spite of this concern, the mood at the meeting was upbeat– almost festive.

The consensus seemed to be that Humboldt and the Emerald Triangle needed to create an Appellation, a branded name, based on the terrior of this remote and beautiful countryside. Terrior is a French concept understood most readily when it is used to describe how the term Champagne can now only be used on sparkling wine made from grapes grown in the Champagne region.  It denotes the unique characteristics that are derived from an area’s climate, soil, and local knowledge. Many present called for a organic, outdoor marijuana to be known as Humboldt Homegrown or some reasonable facsimile.  A larger group though urged that the appellation be more inclusive ie the Emerald Triangle  which would include Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity Counties all of which share similar climate and social conditions as well as are neighboring areas.

Whether or not legalization is imminent is a question many at the meeting would like to know.  Mark Lovelace, a Supervisor for the Northern part of the County and the co-chair for the California State Association of Counties Medical Marijuana Working Group, explained that in his view that  “there was no way the legislature can get out ahead of the people on this. If it is going to be legalized it is going to be by initiative.” He feels that Ammiano’s bill, AB2254, will most likely provide the framework for legalization if the Tax Cannabis Initiative passes this fall though the politicians will be unlikely to pass it without a significant more powerful pro movement.  He seemed to feel that passage of some form though would come within the next few years. Before the meeting, two representatives from the Criminal Justice Dept.  at College of the Redwoods who are following the marijuana situation explained to a small group that they feel it is likely to happen this year.  Most people at the meeting agreed that marijuana will be legalized soon though the larger Humboldt community is more skeptical.

Ellen Komp, Deputy Director of California NORML, drew a huge round of applause when she passionately declared, “I’m not dying til there is a [marijuana] tasting room in Humboldt County…We’re pushing this behemoth that is the Federal Government.”  Plans were made to meet again on 4/20, a date significant to cannabis consumers everywhere.

—————————————————————

Note: the mantle of secrecy is only drawn aside coyly.  The blushing growers didn’t want photographs of this historical moment.  But in order to effect change, some are going to have to be as bold as the group’s founder, Anna Hamilton and step into the media spotlight.  Not only were many of the local media spots well represented but an Associated Press reporter was there covering the event also.

UPDATE: The Times Standard posted a review of the surveys filled out by the meeting participants.

Update: The Times Standard has Donna Tam’s take on last night’s meeting

Note: The North Coast Journal this week carries a story by me about ways Humboldt can prepare for legalization.

High Times has Hotlinked this post so that it appears on the online HighTimes page under blogs.

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29 comments

  • I think it is pretty telling that the number one story at the Ukiah Daily Journal is the What’s After Pot story. http://www.ukiahdailyjournal.com/ci_14746050

  • Great meeting last night. I have never been prouder of my community. So many intelligent, creative and hard working people putting their heads together and looking for solutions to our future. I for one am very optimistic after last nights meeting. I agree that an appellation is going to be needed to protect the Humboldt name and makes the most sense but it is also going to be up to each individual farm to produce something unique and of high quality or they will not be able to prosper on a growing level. Many more industries will spring from this, but as far as growers survival, marketing ,organic standards and unique high quality medicine is what has always put Humboldt on the map and will continue to do so for a long time. I am looking forward to the next meeting and many more discussions. Thanks for the coverage Kym.

  • Great meeting last night. I have never been prouder of my community. So many intelligent, creative and hard working people putting their heads together and looking for solutions to our future. I for one am very optimistic after last nights meeting. I agree that an appellation is going to be needed to protect the Humboldt name and makes the most sense but it is also going to be up to each individual farm to produce something unique and of high quality or they will not be able to prosper on a growing level. Many more industries will spring from this, but as far as growers survival, marketing ,organic standards and unique high quality medicine is what has always put Humboldt on the map and will continue to do so for a long time. I am looking forward to the next meeting and many more discussions. Thanks for the coverage Kym.

  • It was fascinating. Identifying the fear and what might be done was long overdue. Kudos to Anna for having the guts to start the conversation. People were ready and anxious for it to begin.

    For all the talk of branding Humboldt, as Ellen Komp pointed out, the biggest branding is happening in Oaksterdam and their emphasis is on indoor.

    That said, Oaksterdam is about access, openness, and normalizing cannabis. Humboldt has been caught up in secrecy for far too long. Mendocino has taken a far more pragmatic attitude and is moving ahead.

    Several folks, Anna included, seem to hope for some form of price stabilization. I don’t think that’s possible. CAMP was the price support program. 215 has dropped it. Given the trends of the last ten years, it is going to continue to drop, with or without legalization.

    $500 a pound is still a remarkable price for an ag product, compared to what you can get for organic brandywines or butternut squash at the farmer’s market. It will no longer easy to make big money, but people can still earn a living. It’s going to be different, more intensive, and, yes, it’s going to be a hard adjustment.

    Humboldt will make it up as we plunge ahead. As Charlotte at the business community table said, one of the assets we have is chutzpah.

    I’m most worried about the economic survival of community non-profits that have long depended on tithing. There are still no ideas on the table to address that. These organizations provide the community with crucial infrastructure that would otherwise not exist–KMUD, Hospice, Redwoods Rural.

    I worry about property values dropping and the eroding tax base further harming our schools. I worry about younger people being able to afford the homes they’ve bought.

    I also see an opportunity for changes to the quality of life here, a return to tighter community, a chance to effectively address environmental issues, a chance to break away from the toxic effects of a culture of secrecy.

    It was good to see county people come down for the meeting. It’s important to remember that while Mark Lovelace and the County want to help, Lovelace was pretty clear that aren’t going to lead. They will take the initiative as we direct them. The creative work, the organizing, the planning of a path is up to the people who genuinely want to daylight the industry.

    Where was Clif?

    I was very happy to meet business owners from Arcata who came for the meeting. There is a lot of interest on trade associations, grower’s guilds and protected geographical status and I’m looking forward to the next meeting.

    After work today I’m going to have a closer look at the stakeholder’s notes that we gathered and will share them with this blog, Eric’s, and KMUD.

    Thursday at 8 pm on KMUD Charley Custer and Kim Nelson will recap the meeting and discuss what’s next.

  • It was fascinating. Identifying the fear and what might be done was long overdue. Kudos to Anna for having the guts to start the conversation. People were ready and anxious for it to begin.

    For all the talk of branding Humboldt, as Ellen Komp pointed out, the biggest branding is happening in Oaksterdam and their emphasis is on indoor.

    That said, Oaksterdam is about access, openness, and normalizing cannabis. Humboldt has been caught up in secrecy for far too long. Mendocino has taken a far more pragmatic attitude and is moving ahead.

    Several folks, Anna included, seem to hope for some form of price stabilization. I don’t think that’s possible. CAMP was the price support program. 215 has dropped it. Given the trends of the last ten years, it is going to continue to drop, with or without legalization.

    $500 a pound is still a remarkable price for an ag product, compared to what you can get for organic brandywines or butternut squash at the farmer’s market. It will no longer easy to make big money, but people can still earn a living. It’s going to be different, more intensive, and, yes, it’s going to be a hard adjustment.

    Humboldt will make it up as we plunge ahead. As Charlotte at the business community table said, one of the assets we have is chutzpah.

    I’m most worried about the economic survival of community non-profits that have long depended on tithing. There are still no ideas on the table to address that. These organizations provide the community with crucial infrastructure that would otherwise not exist–KMUD, Hospice, Redwoods Rural.

    I worry about property values dropping and the eroding tax base further harming our schools. I worry about younger people being able to afford the homes they’ve bought.

    I also see an opportunity for changes to the quality of life here, a return to tighter community, a chance to effectively address environmental issues, a chance to break away from the toxic effects of a culture of secrecy.

    It was good to see county people come down for the meeting. It’s important to remember that while Mark Lovelace and the County want to help, Lovelace was pretty clear that aren’t going to lead. They will take the initiative as we direct them. The creative work, the organizing, the planning of a path is up to the people who genuinely want to daylight the industry.

    Where was Clif?

    I was very happy to meet business owners from Arcata who came for the meeting. There is a lot of interest on trade associations, grower’s guilds and protected geographical status and I’m looking forward to the next meeting.

    After work today I’m going to have a closer look at the stakeholder’s notes that we gathered and will share them with this blog, Eric’s, and KMUD.

    Thursday at 8 pm on KMUD Charley Custer and Kim Nelson will recap the meeting and discuss what’s next.

  • Thank you for this coverage Kym.
    I sure wish I could have made it to the meeting. Maybe I’ll be able to show up for the next one on 4/20

  • Thank you for this coverage Kym.
    I sure wish I could have made it to the meeting. Maybe I’ll be able to show up for the next one on 4/20

  • I think that individual strains like individual wines will definitely be an area that growers will need to focus on. Seed stock is going to be very important and people who understand those areas will be in great demand. Let’s hope CR starts offering classes for growers including business classes and marketing classes.

  • I think that individual strains like individual wines will definitely be an area that growers will need to focus on. Seed stock is going to be very important and people who understand those areas will be in great demand. Let’s hope CR starts offering classes for growers including business classes and marketing classes.

  • Hi Kym,

    My name is Haylee, I was born & raised in Humboldt County, and I am currently working is Assemblymember Ammiano’s office. I am very sad to have missed the meeting last night, I really wish I could have been there to answer anyone’s questions regarding the legislation- AB 2254, our support, opposition, etc. I have been following the issue of marijuana legalization since AB 390 was introduced, but I am just starting to learn about the network of Humboldt citizens that are concerned of the issue and want to do something about it. I want to help in any way that I can!! I discovered your blog a couple weeks ago – I have Ammiano’s name on Google Alert and it led me here- and your blog has really served as an information source for me, I have been reading it regularly. So, given that, I just wanted to make myself known, thank you for this wonderful information hub, and am willing to do anything I can to protect Humboldt county in its entirety!

    Next meeting on 4/20?

  • Hi Kym,

    My name is Haylee, I was born & raised in Humboldt County, and I am currently working is Assemblymember Ammiano’s office. I am very sad to have missed the meeting last night, I really wish I could have been there to answer anyone’s questions regarding the legislation- AB 2254, our support, opposition, etc. I have been following the issue of marijuana legalization since AB 390 was introduced, but I am just starting to learn about the network of Humboldt citizens that are concerned of the issue and want to do something about it. I want to help in any way that I can!! I discovered your blog a couple weeks ago – I have Ammiano’s name on Google Alert and it led me here- and your blog has really served as an information source for me, I have been reading it regularly. So, given that, I just wanted to make myself known, thank you for this wonderful information hub, and am willing to do anything I can to protect Humboldt county in its entirety!

    Next meeting on 4/20?

  • Pingback: Parody of The Anti Legalization Marijuana Grower « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: Parody of The Anti Legalization Marijuana Grower « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • My name is Tony and I’m the founder of the Marijuana Growers Association of America. This is the link to the MGAA web site. http://www.Marijuana Growers Association of America.com/ At this point in time it’s just a starter page that doesn’t give us the room to put out our full message. Aside from the obvious political stance that an organization like ours will bring to the table we will also give marijuana farmers the same type of benefits that are enjoyed by our “brother and sister” fruit and vegetable farmers. We will be contracting with insurance companies to bring group discounts on health, dental and auto rates. Law firms for trade marking, product branding and business incorporation. We also want to work with farmers to set standards for product testing and grading. We must be ready for relegalization of Marijuana and show the government that we are a serious industry and we’re not to be looked upon as back woods hippies and drug dealers. We need to be able to tell the government how the industry will function as a whole and not the other way around. When the prohibition of alcohol was repealed there were international standards already in place. The Marijuana industry isn’t that lucky. We must take the bull by the horns and do it ourselves. Every state will have their own MGAA chapter that will be closely modeled after the California program. People tell me that we are too soon, to wait until the November ballot results are in. I think this is wrong and the time to start is now. It may be years even decades before we see a true movement on the part of state and federal governments but as I said before we must be ready for it.

    • Dear Tony,
      We at Grow Diary support your efforts to move the Medical Marijuana Community forwards both politically and in terms of getting ourselves prepared for the inevitable relegalization. We would like to introduce you to the Grow Diary Network, a new site aimed at Medical Marijuana Growers. Grow Diary members can track their grows through keeping an online journal, they can also record their choice of nutrients, seed/plant strains, lighting and watering schedules as well as growing mediums. Members can also watch other grows and study their techniques.

      We are not forum based. Our aim is to build a database of Medical Marijuana seeds and plant types, recording growing methods and images will help to enhance the practical knowledge of the Medical Marijuana community. We believe that sharing grow experience information will help to move this Community forwards.

      Please visit growdiary.net for more information and please feel free to pass this link on to interested parties.
      GrowDiary Member

  • My name is Tony and I’m the founder of the Marijuana Growers Association of America. This is the link to the MGAA web site. http://www.Marijuana Growers Association of America.com/ At this point in time it’s just a starter page that doesn’t give us the room to put out our full message. Aside from the obvious political stance that an organization like ours will bring to the table we will also give marijuana farmers the same type of benefits that are enjoyed by our “brother and sister” fruit and vegetable farmers. We will be contracting with insurance companies to bring group discounts on health, dental and auto rates. Law firms for trade marking, product branding and business incorporation. We also want to work with farmers to set standards for product testing and grading. We must be ready for relegalization of Marijuana and show the government that we are a serious industry and we’re not to be looked upon as back woods hippies and drug dealers. We need to be able to tell the government how the industry will function as a whole and not the other way around. When the prohibition of alcohol was repealed there were international standards already in place. The Marijuana industry isn’t that lucky. We must take the bull by the horns and do it ourselves. Every state will have their own MGAA chapter that will be closely modeled after the California program. People tell me that we are too soon, to wait until the November ballot results are in. I think this is wrong and the time to start is now. It may be years even decades before we see a true movement on the part of state and federal governments but as I said before we must be ready for it.

    • Dear Tony,
      We at Grow Diary support your efforts to move the Medical Marijuana Community forwards both politically and in terms of getting ourselves prepared for the inevitable relegalization. We would like to introduce you to the Grow Diary Network, a new site aimed at Medical Marijuana Growers. Grow Diary members can track their grows through keeping an online journal, they can also record their choice of nutrients, seed/plant strains, lighting and watering schedules as well as growing mediums. Members can also watch other grows and study their techniques.

      We are not forum based. Our aim is to build a database of Medical Marijuana seeds and plant types, recording growing methods and images will help to enhance the practical knowledge of the Medical Marijuana community. We believe that sharing grow experience information will help to move this Community forwards.

      Please visit growdiary.net for more information and please feel free to pass this link on to interested parties.
      GrowDiary Member

  • Link does not work.

  • Link does not work.

  • Pingback: Goodbye to the DEA, Hello to the EPA « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: Goodbye to the DEA, Hello to the EPA « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Organize, Organize, Organize

  • Organize, Organize, Organize

  • Pingback: Out in the Open–Growers Converge for a Meeting in Arcata « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

  • Pingback: Out in the Open–Growers Converge for a Meeting in Arcata « REDHEADED BLACKBELT

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