New Laws, New Hopes, New Worries For Cannabis Farmers

An article earlier this week in the Sacramento Bee grapples with the new issues facing cannabis farmers now that state laws have finally been passed to regulate the marijuana market. While the current laws only deal with medical cannabis, it is no secret they are intended to be in place to help California transition out of the medical marijuana only model. (2016 is widely expected to be the year the Golden State legalizes recreational cannabis.)

Farmers in the article argue that the new laws will have to walk a fine line between regulations that protect the consumer and the environment and rules that are so onerous for the growers that most will opt to stay in the black market.  Stephen Dillon, executive manager of the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild is quoted in the article as saying, “If they set up too rigorous of a program then they will not get buy-in, and if they don’t get buy-in nothing has changed…We will continue to have one of the largest black market industries in the country.”

Of course, one of the number one concerns mentioned by the local farmers is that big corporations will grab the market and starve the mom and pop farmers. The article points out that regulations which help maintain quality might be the key to small growers thriving. Another hope that farmers such as the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild have is that branding and defining themselves as producers of the finest buds might help them stay ahead of the big cannabusinesses. A passage in the Bee article talks about a new group of cannabis farmers based in Humboldt. It states,

CaptureThen there’s the matter of marketing. The Humboldt Sun Growers Guild already has a product name, True Humboldt, with a slogan (”Since the beginning”) and a sleek website trumpeting its virtues.

“We believe the Humboldt name and history is a big brand,” Dillon said.

The hope is that highlighting the origins, akin to Napa County wines or microbrews, will boost the value of the product and help smaller farmers compete with larger operations.

The Bee article goes on to discuss some of the other “consequences to legitimization” including tax breaks, farm labor laws, and changes to distribution laws. Growers and those concerned with the changes to the local economy should read the piece here.



  • Big money can suffer the pains of fines and costs that little money cannot. Big money looks long term investment, little money goes hand-to-mouth. Big money attracts market capital. Little money is on its own. Yup, this whole thing’s going sideways with legalization, creating new government agencies to deal with it (or expanding existing ones) and treating little money like criminals if they dare to take any of the profits away from big money. Rules and laws will be written by lobbyists to protect big money. Black markets should do fine, but attracting attention with high quality and specialty products, without Government (read: big money) authorization will undoubtedly result in some pretty harsh penalties. It’s happening already in other States where dispensaries constantly push to limit or eliminate caregiver’s and patient’s latitude. Look at Canada.

    • Trin is spot on.
      I’ve followed various advocacy groups & they all fight one common foe. The monopoly. The smear campaigns geared to force regulations are absurd, in every case.

    • Nicely put trin you worded it perfectly

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      WTF? Has everybody gone nuts? Say What? How is it going “sideways.” It’s not going to be perfect to start off, but what is? If you’re going to justify the current legal situation, then please make coherent points for public analysis.

  • yep-alcohol still has a thriving black market.and mass grows can’t produce ultra fine quality.this may open it up to small grows that are quality just not the black market prices that we enjoy now

  • I was reading about Colorado’s black market and how many dispensary owners gave up because of permit costs, endless paperwork and fees and reporting and taxes. They gladly returned to the black market. Also, legalization has not curtailed trespass cartel grows in national forests there. A lot of the legally grown pot there is being sold on the black market to other states. My take is that Colorado can’t be held up as a model of successful legalization, the black market still thrives there and didn’t stop cartel grows.

  • What an intelligent exchange! While reading the above article, I was thinking: There cannot be more than one Number One priority…. And yes, it’s money.
    Quality over Quantity will win out in the end however, and the Black Market will return to small, high class operations tended by families, the young ‘uns will be educated, and life will go on.
    It seems to me that the only folks freaked out over this issue are the Big-White-Truck populations, to whom I say “Goodbye.” af

  • The “Humboldt” brand is a complete joke. Comparing Humboldt weed to Napa wine is not a valid thought. Last time I checked people aren’t growing grapes indoors. When your product is grown in a controlled environment it doesn’t matter where it’s from. Beyond that, most weed consumers just want a potent product. You get the highest THC yields from indoor cultivation. This again reinforces the fact that humboldt is obsolete. Anyone that tries to claim our outdoor would trump an Central Valley full sun outdoor plant is kidding themselves and everyone else. Time to get a real job, or find a new angle.

    • Lost Croat Outburst

      You must not garden very much. Outdoor grown weed is directly comparable to grapes. Different plant and drug, but comparisons are many. Indoor weed is far more expensive due to lighting costs (which is not eco-groovy) and has more pests and diseases. Indoor growers spend big money trying to duplicate the sun which they cannot. Clearly and obviously, you have never experienced quality outdoor weed with superior genetics. Too bad for you, but that’s no excuse to spew misinformation. Mountain-grown Triangle outdoor weed is cultivated several thousand feet higher than the Central Valley which provides more intense sunlight. Everyone (but you!) knows that small-batch manufacture, as with craft beer brewing, is the way to highest quality. Thus, we can compete with the big boys and girls on the artisanal level. We know what we are doing. We are the Napa Valley of pot.

      If not, we go broke, much to your joy. What a troll. Read a lot o’ grow books, do ya? If people in the hills can’t make a decent living on one or two summer crops on natural light, then they are out of business. Please get a few years growing behind you so you can make a meaningful contribution next time

      • “…..and has more pests and diseases.”

        Bullshit!!!! How can you say that indoor grows have more pest and diseases?

        “Eco-groovy”….. fail, lets stop lighting the highways at night while we are at it.

        Clean water is the most precious resource on earth and outdoor grow cannabis uses alot of water with no real hopes of greatly reducing that usage. CEA has great potential to dramatically reduce the amount of water used to produce cannabis products. Thus one could argue that outdoor cannabis is not “eco-groovy”.

        • Nothing like an outdoor fungus gnat infestation…oh wait. Never seen one. Indoor grows may be less susceptible to deer, but thats about it.

          • There are olive mites to deal with ( the name is a catch all for a whole spectrum of microscopic bugs ).
            Then there is the family of mites, gall and others, that get inside the plants vessels cutting of water and nutrients. And everyones favorite, P.M.
            I have noticed that seed breed plants seem to be more resilient than the popular clone strains Kush and OG Kush.

        • Indoor herb is slowly getting faded out. Years ago the dispensaries wouldn’t touch it. Now, they love it. Your average cannabis consumer across america could not tell you if what they were smoking was grown in the sun or outside. Frankly, I’m still shocked people grow indoor. The sun doesn’t cost $.25 a kilowatt hour. Sun grown herb is way better. Bag appeal to indoor might be slightly better, but it stops there.

      • About altitude…it does provide more intense solar radiation, which can – with other limiting factors accounted for – produce higher growth rates (thus the 10+ pounders ). But higher solar radiation does not mean higher cannabanoid content, better calyx/leaf ratio, or better overall qualities. That comes down to grower skill and genetics. And I would like write about the positive effects of shade another time…

    • You obviously haven’t paid attention to the studies done by the university in Israel. For 25 years there scientific studies show southern Humboldt continuously produces the best and strongest marijuana in the world. Do your research or get to like the taste of your shoe because it will be in your mouth a lot.

  • Does this mean my lazy ass social services sucking parasite neighbors that make an undeclared fortune growing weed ,go on extended vacations and drive big trucks and hybrid cars(to get discounted electricity for their indoor grow) and claim every free service designed to help the needy might have to get real jobs,my heart bleeds for you.

    • I like how everybody determines a person integrity or social value by their vehicle. I drive a newer, lifted Tacoma. I don’t grow weed or smoke weed. I pay taxes and work. [edit]

  • I wunder how much property tax the county will loose and how many properties will be forclosed on. When the market goes SIDEWAYS. Local elected officials only see the tax $’s they could get their grubby little paws on. Most likely those taxes will be paid by corporations. A old local once told me pot $’s paid a lot of big prop. taxes on old family ranches that otherwise would have been sold or forclosed on because of large property tax bills. When things go SIDEWAYS the banks and the corporations will end up owning a big chunk of Humboldt county. And there won’t be much room for regular folks, unless you want to work for the Corps. most likely at slave wages. Just sumpthi’n to think about.

  • Have property taxes and values gone down in CO or WA? No. Did properties start getting foreclosed on? No. Where do all of the speculations come from? I’m guessing a land value increase. Supply and demand.

  • Its really too bad that average non-growers dont have a voice. Many people would like to grow 1 or 2 plants on their property. Having to own 5 acres or more is an insane requirement.

  • These refs are for commercial production, the new medical law passed by state will still allow each patient a 10×10 so don’t worry about your few ladies.

  • The state doesn’t want any sort of recreation tied to mj.
    It will most likely be medical so that rules, regulations and taxation can be implemented and enforced.
    There would be too little to tax if any sort of recreational laws are implemented….

  • Our supervisors have had 19 years to address these issues. They have steadfastly kept themselves uninformed and now find themselves (and place us) in a quagmire of regulation which they cannot enforce and with which we (growers) cannot possibly comply. The black market is too big to fail.

    • I need Perspective

      “regulation which they cannot enforce and with which we (growers) cannot possibly comply.” Help me understand this. Enforcement will come by 3rd party people. The largest of the grows will have the agencies themselves on the ground doing the enforcement of regulations. I’ll give you that it will be weak the first year or so, but they will figure it out. Now about the second part of your comment. I can’t wrap my head around that. Nothing seems out of reach even for a small grower. The regulations and tier system seem to work if you do the math. I honestly need input from people that say the regulations favor the corporate grower. Please help me understand. What am I missing. Here is your chance to grow, legally without the added stress of getting busted. All you have to do is jump through some hoops. They are giving you the chance and you say “we (growers) cannot possibly comply”. I’m lost.

    • The Humboldt B.O.S. simply waffled for 2 decades then decided that ‘Big Regulation’ could tame an industry that has gotten way too big for their over-regulated vision to overcome the ‘Wild West’ attitude of the majority of Humboldt illicit cannabis growers.

  • Some properties will increase in value and other properties with say a backyard grow will decrease if regulations change what homeowners on their own properties can do.

  • True Humboldt openly bashes indoor growing while promoting their outdoor as the only true way to produce cannabis in an ecological way. Check their flyers and handouts.

    Then they won the Humboldt County Cup for Indoor Flower, Indica Dominant

    Check the website:

    I really don’t want to hear anything they have to say about cannabis.

    • That organization has the look, but not the knowledge. Something else strange is they claim to be locals, but all the cars at the office have Oregon plates.

      • Yes, the out of staters are a-head of the game in some aspects.. Mostly branding and marketing.
        Also, if you look and research the sponsors for the “humboldtcountycup” you’ll see that majority are out of staters.
        One sponsor is a said “Eden Farms”, I see them advertising with a banner on the fence of a tweaker trailer house
        Across from the old Dazys Moto in Redway.
        Memory serves me correct, those are some tweakers from Wisconsin who got busted there a couple years back. That house is the biggest dump in Redway, a negative marketing campaign needs to launch exposing the condition of these “farms” and that house needs to be red tagged and bull dozed.
        These types of people are the face and sponsors of Humboldt county pot farms.
        This is a problem people.

        • “Have testing done by certified tester whom is also a member.

          Network with non-cooperative dispensaries and make them and there members our members.”
          These are a couple of lines on their website. Why state the “tester” is a member? That line even sounds dumb and makes me think it’s not really 3rd party. What the hell does the second line mean?? If they are “non-cooperative”, meaning they are for profit, then they are illegal and black market sales. They wouldn’t have “members”. Their website makes me think it’s a bunch of stoners running a business. No thanks!

    • I sent a question about this to someone from True Humboldt.

    • Stoney, I checked in with the folks at the Humboldt Sungrowers Guild (They are behind the brand True Humboldt.) This is what they said:

      You are absolutely correct that the Humboldt Sungrowers Guild promotes and works exclusively 100% with outdoor, sun grown cannabis. While we deeply respect and appreciate other facets of our local cannabis community, our mission is to empower and support local sustainable outdoor farmers exclusively.

      The confusion at the Humboldt Cup arose this way: A farmer could not be present at the Cup and asked a friend, who was also one of our booth representatives, to stand in in the event any prize were to be awarded for that farmer’s entry. The acceptance was never intended to be on behalf of the Guild, or its brand True Humboldt, which is strictly for sun grown cannabis.

      • Fair enough. The representative could have accepted it on the farmers behalf without using the brand name. I never saw any rule stating other wise.

  • Okay Kym, thanks for asking.

    Now contact their Director, Christine I think? She was showing off her indoor buds to everyone at the Mecca Cup this year. Flossing her “Berner family exclusive genetics”.

  • Kym, I could go on. I have three questions for True Humboldt:

    1) In metric tons, how much greenhouse and light dep plastic have you taken to the local dumps?

    2) in barrels of oil, how much diesel do you burn driving from your comfy homes on the north coast to your farms in Panther Gap and other outlying areas?

    3) How many off grid, diesel run grows do your members currently run, or have run in the last 10 years?

    Thanks for keeping the home fires burning, Kym! Happy Holidaze

  • Sounds like somebody has some inside info on the true Humboldt gang…

    Anyway maybe someone representing this group or in the know can explain to us what service True Humboldt is providing for local farmers? I take it the “branding” means they are trying to be the “distributors” for Humboldt farmers to send their product to dispensaries across the state? (Obviously making a percentage for their service) Any other services being offered or included, how does this work?

  • Indoor Flower- Indica Dominant
    #1 IFI4- Candy Land by Chrystal O. of Humboldt County and Great Escape Farms

    True Humboldt has been caught red, or, green handed. Chrystal O is their Manager! She won for indoor. Yet they openly bash indoor and promote outdoor as “The only True Way”.

    Happy Danksgiving. Know your neighbors.

    • On The The Next Collective

      Damn! Their response should have just been an honest one. Now they are making themselves out to be liars. “the farmer asked a friend” thats very deceiving. The farmer being the collective manager, the “friend” being the collective. I really don’t care that someone in the organization grows indoor, but to hide it and lie about it is another thing. I can say I will never deal with these people. In this industry you need to shine above all the competition and give us a reason to work with you. There are plenty of reason not to work with people. This organization just gave us one. Honesty is the best policy. If you can’t trust them in something as innocent as entering a cup, how can you trust them to handle your product? Damage done.

      • I think you would like me, and trust me… And they are my friends. ❤️ If I would have been there, I would have accepted it proudly, even if they teased me. I forgot about the old school High Times alias– I should have done that, it was my assumption that honesty was the best policy when I attached my own name to it. Rookie move- I am sure this will be funny one day when I look back on it. a thanksgiving to remember.

  • Happy Thanksgiving everyone, please enjoy your family and friends today. Appreciate the people and place in our lives. I decided to follow the advice I have given to my children when they were caught up in Facebook bullying tactics, not to lower themselves to people level when they are acting like children. That being said there are other questions people have asked that I would like to clarify. My family has been in Humboldt County since the late 1880’s, making my children fifth generation residents. The other original members average around 25+ years. The only Oregon Plate you see is on the vehicle of our Botanist, who although he lives in Ashland, went to Humboldt State and then received his Masters by working on the study of Old Growth Redwood canopies, papers and articles that became very prominent in publications like National Geographic. Forestry led him to Oregon and he has come back to share his knowledge with us. To Fredm, True Humboldt is the brand that The Humboldt Sun Growers Guild uses. The HSSG is an Ag style Co-op. The very purpose of it is to help farmers get their water permits and store appropriately for the summer. Also to navigate the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board cannabis cultivation permit. This requires proper grading, water, and storage of fuels and fertilizers. These are not things you do in a day, they require months of work, money and time. But they are the right things to do to be responsible farmers. Those of us who have seen the industry change over the last 25+ years know we need to educate people about being responsible partners and neighbors. We also provide bulk buying power for organic nutrients and other farm related expenses. We work with farmers to show them how to build their business legally and pay taxes. We are working with accountants, science engineers, water specialists, lawyers. We also work with government officials on the city, county and state levels to help bridge this gap and educate both sides. Where have I spent the last couple years, working on helping my neighbors and the larger community to bridge this divide that has bee here for Forty plus years. The question of distributorship is not answerable at this time. We operate fully compliant with current laws in place regarding SB 420 and 215. The state will not implement these roles for another year or two, in the meantime the farmer is our main goal. My Point is we are putting Time and Work, where our mouth is. With this we want to help other farmers to switch away from the War our community has been involved in for too long. To the people who see above Mr Stoney Cases motive we look forward to the future. Mr Case, this is our statement, if you would like to identify yourself and have a civilized discussion please come by our office. True Humboldt believes in the quality and benefits of outdoor grown cannabis, it is our passion. We also know not all people have access to their own land and there are other growing techniques out there. We do not intend to make this an ‘us versus them’ issue. Happy Thanksgiving Humboldt.

  • Happy Thanksgiving,
    What a crazy herb community we have… After a lifetime of a certain moral code, I guess I thought we may be safe to enter our super craft tiny batch of cannabis in a contest and be safe. Lol. That cannot be my luck. Internet behavior is new to me. I am super bummed this hurt my community. I cannot be a member of the sungrowers guild because my beautiful property off the grid I raised my family on will not be appropriately zoned. I have made medicine for decades for many local people you may know and love. I advocate for super small batch cultivation. I advocate fiercely for sun grown cannabis medicine. I had a series of circumstances that has led me to being so lucky to get a phenomenal job doing something I love. I work there. I am not an owner nor a member of the guild. As a second choice to getting to participate in this new future w a registered compliant garden, I get to represent these farmers. I also get to share my love for the plant with people every day. These flowers were so beautiful and organic I wanted to share them. I entered it and did not realize the repercussions when I asked Ben to accept it for me. I did not mean to attach it to the brand, accept for that he would accept it on my behalf. My peers respect me and my own choices and it has nothing to do w my job. They promote sun grown and so do I. This is officially the most steamy pile of shit I have received as a “win”. Lol. They teased me when I got it, here is the pic they sent me… Be human and realize that we are all human. True Humboldt does not advocate or deal with indoor at all. This is such a non issue. All of us have friends that participate in every level of this industry. I’m sorry that I did it, I will be lucky to have a job or a garden at all after this “scandal” I guess it wasn’t really worth it… Not to mention giving up my personal meds. Thanks for the love stoney, I am sure I treated you with kindness and respect when I met you. I guess you never can tell w people. I was born in these hills off the grid and hope to die in the hills off the grid- my time will come again and in the meantime I will have to have a job. Happy Thanksgiving, be kind and spread goodness. Nobody likes a narc. You could have sent a personal message if you were really worried. Code THINK– is is
    True? Helpful? Important? Necessary? Kind?
    If not, don’t say it…

  • Stephen, thanks for the response to everyone’s questions and concerns. I don’t think someone associated with your group entering a indoor big in a contest is a big deal at all, move on people.. Let’s discuss some real issues at hand here. Indoor may not be ideal in a big picture sense but it will be a part of the market for a long time, weather you like it or not. The demand for indoor exists, and in a free market that demand will always be met.

    Stephen, can you elaborate on how you cooperative works, beyond all the help you provide to farmers with dealing with the regulatory issues and permitting and getting good deals on nutrients. You sign farms up and distribute those farms product for them? What are the membership costs? How much do the farmers take away? Do the farmers have to grow only certain types?thanks, good talk

    • Fredm, come in to the office from noon to five on a monday and meet with other farmers in the guild, or call and make a private appointment. Check the website for info.

  • bottom line is that most of the growers within the Emerald Triangle have some extent of criminal history. I for one welcome the legalization, if for nothing else to put you out of business.

    • when I have to heavily arm myself just to go to my vacation property..its a problem people! way too many times have i run into the lawlessness in this beautiful area and quite frankly after a face to face with a cartel member , I hate to say it, I will defend myself and my family……next time i’m threatened by these individuals the outcome will be different Law enforcement will be notified.

      • Legalization will only cement business, not put them out of business. No matter who is threatening you, you have the right to defend yourself.

  • Kind of sad to see people sell out their freedom for so called security. True Humboldt will never live in permits and regulations. If you believe in that crap you never were True Humboldt to begin with.

    • Freedom?? Where do yo live? True, the chances of getting busted are very slim, but I wouldn’t call it freedom. We are trained outlaws. We can either adapt or keep on trucking, it’s up to each individual.

      • Well no a,………here’s the deal, [edit]
        Have fun being gelded, but you will miss those testicles once they are gone.
        How did the whole surrender and capitulation thing work out for Native Americans?
        Oh, that’s right, they are conquered and divided and now being run by lackeys to the Federal Government.

        • Enjoy being a stallion with a target on your back. I here you on some levels. I like the way things are. However, I have friends in CO who make a damn good living in the industry. Its a struggle in the real world. People work 9-5 jobs they hate and barely get by. Why not make a decent living at something you love? Maybe you don’t love it. Can you elaborate on why “Humboldt will never live in permits and regulations.” Are you just an outlaw at heart and thats it? I honestly would like some perspective.

  • Chrystal and Dillon,

    Had you come out with the above soliloquies when Kym first posed the question regarding the Cup, none of this would have happened, in my opinion. Like I tell my kids “the cover up is often worse than the crime. Just come clean and deal with it when caught”.

    My goal is to discuss what is, not what isn’t. It’s common thought amongst growers and grow circles that True Humboldt has an open, anti-indoor message. Maybe we are all confused and this will help clear it up.

    • I was interested, so I scoured the True Humboldt page to see this anti- indoor campaign. Touting the sustainable nature of small farm outdoor (or sun grown, as they say) is your definition of anti- indoor? Suck it up buttercup. Only a dick posts an anonymous thread calling out people by name. Pretty sure that is a no no in all “grow circles”. Did you not recognize the irony in calling for the “truth” with an anonymous handle? Which one was your entry, what is your name and where do you work?

  • I think the True Humboldt crowd represents local characters I have known forever yet have shunned because of there resemblance to the mindset in Kurt Vonnegut’s ” The Handicapper General “.
    I have no problem listening to criticism but I find their anti indoor or anti mega grow stance to be very self serving.
    Rather than adapt and grow they chose decades ago to not invest in more land and have become soft and lazy hypocrites expecting the world to owe them some lifetime pension in the form of tiny grows on overcrowded parcels. A stench of self entitlement covered with the perfume of supposedly saving the environment.

    • Now YOU’RE sounding like a hypocrite.

    • For real, don’t leave me hanging. I would like some insight as to how “Humboldt will never live in permits and regulations”.

      • Why surrender when you just won the war?
        This is all the bandwagon hipster set that has no idea the sacrifices made in the name of common sense and liberation from small minds.
        You are settling for a chump deal when you hold all the cards.
        Provided people stay united in their vision.

        • So idealism? I can dig it. The cool thing is, you don’t have to join in on the reindeer games. You don’t have to sell out. You can continue to keep it real anyway you see fit. There will always be a black market. There will always be outlaws. I love it. In fact, I encourage it. I guess I want to see what he next chapter holds. Maybe I should search my feelings more and let he force guide me. Maybe Im not to ready to face Vader and should continue my training. The plan has ben placed into action, watch unfold I will(Yodas voice).

          • It reminds me of the first time I saw a commercial for some corporation that co opted an important Beatles , or Stones, or Dylan song and it felt very depressing.
            Thats how they take the soul out of things.
            But true,…life goes on.

          • I feel you. I honestly do. The example you used is spot right on.

  • I don’t think True Humboldt is bashing indoor, I think they are just trying to promote the benefits of sungrown. A few years ago it was hard to find a legal way to distribute outdoor, but rebranding it as sustainably sun grown has been used to help farmers all over our county. I have talked with True Humboldt on several occasions and they are incredibly nice, intelligent and caring people. I think if the laws supported indoor growers better so would everyone else, but with the current wattage restrictions in place many people are forced to find new ways to market their outdoor.

    Also, did you see that sample that won? It was INCREDIBLE!!! Beautiful purple bud with a thicker crystal coating than I have ever seen previously. it would have been a darn shame to not enter that in a contest because that was some show quality stuff!

    • Sun grown isn’t more accepted because its sustainable. The majority of the consumers could give a rats ass how it was grown or if it is sustainable. The reason its gaining popularity is because the product is getting better. Better than its shade grown predecessor from the earlier years. Also, people like the numbers, so when it’s testing higher or same as indoor and the clubs can pick it up for 1,500 a pound, it now has appeal.

  • The headline should have read new worries for criminals in most cases anyway .The black markets is hurting the workers and stealing opportunity from the honest folks that play by the rules and don’t want to live as a criminal .

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