Pot on Crack: How Possible Marijuana Legalization is Fueling a Land Grab

stormy skies with buds

Marijuana plant against stormy sky. [Photo by Kym Kemp]

An article in the May 27th issue of the San Francisco Chronicle talks about the Green Rush, where outside interests are snapping up land in Humboldt County (and to a lesser extent the surrounding counties.) The article attributes this latest hot land grab to Humboldt’s “name cachet in the weed world and because the county was the first in California to adopt a commercial marijuana land use ordinance.”

Kevin Sullivan, a local real estate broker, is quoted as saying, “People are coming from all over the place, from different states, and they’re all buying to grow or to split the land up for multiple people to grow. It’s pot on crack, and it’s driving prices up.”

This, the article points out, is affecting environmental groups. A spokesperson for the Wildlands Conservancy says they had been ready to purchase a 6,500-acre ranch on the Eel River when marijuana growers offered more than $20 million for the piece of property.

The article is a must read even though it obviously has some inconsistencies. For one thing it states that marijuana “infuses more than $400 million a year into the Humboldt economy alone” only a few paragraphs from where the Wildlife Conservancy talks about marijuana growers paying over $5 million more for a piece of land than it would have originally gone for. Though that is only one instance on one piece of property, it is indicative of marijuana adding a great deal more than $400 million a year to our local economy. That number was a low-end estimate from several years ago and is in this reporter’s opinion too low when it was made and now it is completely outdated.

All in all though, an informative article that has important implications for growers, land owners, and people concerned about both the environment and the economy.

 

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71 comments

  • Seen-it-before

    ““People are coming from all over the place, from different states, and they’re all buying to grow or to split the land up for multiple people to grow. It’s pot on crack, and it’s driving prices up.”
    BUBBLE ALERT~BUBBLE ALERT

  • It’s so sad to live in such a beautiful area and to be pushed out because I don’t want to grow weed. I just want a modest meaningful income and to live in the forest. But this land Is not for you and me, it’s for pot growers and their racks of cash.

  • stay in Phoenix, zonie

  • If you have nice land the Bulgi’s will call you and offer a million or more, cash. They get the info at county records. They have lots o land now.

  • Buy low sell high

    • Just watch out for that bubble.

    • When I bought my 60 acres, lo unto 50 years ago, it was $125 an acre and considered worthless. Ten percent down, owner carried the note at 7% simple interest, $88.83 a month payments.
      The land is held now in Trust for my family’s future…not as money, but as a Last Ditch in their ability to survive what’s coming.
      Some neighbors here have sold and moved on, unable to resist the lure of a $5,000 an acre “return” on their investment. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it THINK!”
      Those of us who DO think, however, can see this dead-end coming. Land cannot be bought or sold, as our Native people know. So here we go, into “interesting times,” and there’s no turning back the clock.
      Talk to your neighbors about this, and I wish us all Good Luck. af

      • Heavy winded and full of cliche. You too are dust in the wind old timer. But yet the weeds will tumble. The dollar will rise. And you, my friend, would do your kin service by selling. Let the land go. It serves you no good to hand over something they will just sell or grow themselves. At least you’d have a say in how. Honestly. When the shit hits the fan they could just sit there and die? When the shit hits the fan is never.

  • History knocking

    Prepare the National Guard. This is about to get REAL ugly. There is not sufficient local law enforcement to cover what will take place when the new generation takes over the grow business. Greedy local businesses will support growing will argue, “it’s just free Capitalism business to us”. Real estate agents will state, “It’s what we do to make a living” Look up what has happened in Colorado. Those growers are expanding to Humboldt and Mendocino countries. Like Humboldt currently Colorado law enforcement can’t keep pace with the violations such as illegal water use, pollution and public safety. The greed at all levels will turn Humboldt into a place controlled by outsiders. The money greed trough will be the new norm. Best you start attending or writing to the Board of Supervisors/other elected officials as many times as you can to hopefully slow the rampage less this county turn into what happened to Sacramento and affected San Francisco during the rush for gold in 1850’s.

    • Read a report last week thousands of homes in Colorado being converted to indoor grows tell me what happens to the families that are displaced ?

  • What ever land that’s still available to purchase,should only be sold to Humboldt born folks.to many people buy the land to grow on,blow it out,poison the land,divert water etc.folks who live here don’t do that.just sayin.i know it’s crazy but what isn’t anymore.lol

    • That would be unconstitutional and a slippery slope. Next black and gay people wouldn’t t be able to by real estate in certain places because the locals don’t like it. Thank goodness we left ideas like yours in the past, where it belongs.

    • Sleepy Alligator

      G-ma you can’t honestly believe that no local weed farmers do those things to the environment. Come on now, I know you better than that. Well not really, but I’ve read enough of your comments that I kinda feel like I know you a little bit.

      • The locals are some of the worst offenders. Their parents had a modest life style even when prices were higher. Now, the adult children are reaping all they can from the land and business. Valleys pure and clean only 5 years ago are stinking of diesel fumes with rainbow waters from the messy spills. Jewitt Valley was pristine until multi millionaire local needed MORE!!!! There were actually still Salmon in that valley. No longer.
        Greed is greed no matter what one’s birth location

    • I heard That’s what’s Chico did. You have to be a resident for a year before you can buy any property

  • Wait, I have a thousand acres of AG land in SoHum, is that worth anything?

  • I really want to point out that all this land is being sold by your friends and neighbors, chasing that dollar… all these people wouldn’t be able to move in if it wasn’t for locals willing to sell out for $$$$$$

    • Or neighbors that are fed up with what has happened to Humboldt County. All this talk about 400 million dollars a year into our economy yet our schools and infrastructure is failing. Redway School is going on it’s 4th year of being a failed school. The water is barely drinkable, the gym is full of asbestos, and the good teachers are being chased out. The roads are full of over sized diesel trucks taking up the roadway with no care about other motorists, and the local law enforcement is on vacation. The younger grower population is concerened only about making a buck and the older residents are being chased out of their once quite and safe communities, so why shouldn’t they make a buck if they have to leave. Isn’t that what the green rush is all about, it sure isn’t about medicine and humanity.

      • Challenge your local grow store, renner, cafe, liquor store, auto/tire, gas station, etc to work on local legislation to monetarily benefit the local schools, hospitals, adult centers, Helll even throw some at the roads. Be apart of solution

  • As soon as it is legal the land prices will drop here when the large commercial hot weather areas start growing GIANT crops. It will be grown where it can be produced cheaper and grown better. That’s not here. Hard to grow hay here. Area’s that were big producers of moonshine had major economic depressions after it was legal. Same will happen here within 5 years of being legal. Land prices will drop, population will move away when no money to be made here. There wil be hundreds if not thousands of abandoned grow sites to clean up. When You don’t have to hide Your grow this area becomes worthless to growers. Make it legal and the corp’s will be making most if not all the money in the future.

    • It can’t be an area that’s too hot. Cannabis does have an upper temperature limit where production drops off. That’s why this area does so well.

    • The big Humboldt growers will find out that the best sinsemilla will actually be grown in areas further inland and south. That’s because the fall rains start later in the inland and southern areas. Plus the lower humidity of those areas in the fall. Mold is the killer here in Humboldt. The commercial advantage will go to the areas that have consistently dry weather in October, for dependable ripening and harvesting, which we don’t have here. The best areas will be locations that are just above the thermal belt which exists in a band that’s about 100 to 500 feet above the valley floor. Orange growers favor the thermal belt because of the warm nights. That’s all wrong for sinsemilla. Inland areas just higher than the thermal belt, about 700-1000 feet above the valley floor, will have the warm days and cool, dry evenings that ripening pot likes. Valley areas will not be suitable because of tule fog. Also availability of irrigation water will be a big factor.

      • We could only hope that prices settle down. Don’t think it’s going to kill the local industry, however, but maybe take it down a notch after a few years of legalized recreational sales.

      • Until industrial hemp production ruins outdoor crops.

      • Debra DeGiovanni

        Great comment. So tell me, where exactly are you suggesting? I am sort of familiar with the area but it’s been a long time since I traveled there. Spent every summer as a kid in that area.

      • Clearly your fear mongering prowess never took the time to read the legislation about to be voted on. Grows the size for which you think would be allowed, will not be allowed. Furthermore grows that size will not be able to to be branded with a Humboldt name. U can grow the shit out of Monterey county pinots but at the end of the day futures are sold out at the highest price in Napa and Sonoma. Get it? [edit]

    • absolutely. even though it seems like it will go on forever, remember the whalers buffalo hunters and loggers. it will be a great day for the fish god oannes when marijuana goes back to being a tractor grown field crop as it was for centuries grown in this country with no irrigation. ive been thinking the shit would hit the fan by morning for 30 years now, so i’m biased, but i think we’ll see a great depression at harvest time this year when the 1000 year flood comes in, and theres nowhere for it to go! people should also remember the words of the prophet bob marley “THE MORE PEOPLE SMOKE HERB, THE MORE BABYLON FALL” soon come. the whole amerikan empire has got to go. kingdom rise, kingdom fall

    • Don’t dink the kool aide…. there will be a large sucking sound in the ‘triangle after legalization.

  • Spy rock ranch? Thats the only big 6500 acre parcel I know of.

  • The only reason I might justify paying over 3k per acre as a wholesale price ( theoretical ), would be to have an uninterrupted large piece to put into conservation as the Wildlands Conservancy would have done.

  • That Bull Creek parcel was so sad… it is in very good condition and upstream from the state forest… the owners (multiple-generation Humboldt residents) had agreed to sell to the conservation group, and along came someone else with five million dollars more.

    They say every man has his price, but being female if that had been my land, I would have taken the $15 million from conservation long before the $20 million from the weed-growers. Now we can all thank this multi-generation Humboldt person for the fertilizer, rodenticide and other environmental situations sure to come from this mega-grow down into our public forests.

    • Willow Creek will be a war zone

      This person says it all:

      “Prepare the National Guard. This is about to get REAL ugly. There is not sufficient local law enforcement to cover what will take place when the new generation takes over the grow business. Greedy local businesses will support growing will argue, “it’s just free Capitalism business to us”. Real estate agents will state, “It’s what we do to make a living” Look up what has happened in Colorado. Those growers are expanding to Humboldt and Mendocino countries. Like Humboldt currently Colorado law enforcement can’t keep pace with the violations such as illegal water use, pollution and public safety. The greed at all levels will turn Humboldt into a place controlled by outsiders. The money greed trough will be the new norm. Best you start attending or writing to the Board of Supervisors/other elected officials as many times as you can to hopefully slow the rampage less this county turn into what happened to Sacramento and affected San Francisco during the rush for gold in 1850’s.”

      • The big growers have the balls to call growing pot “our heritgage.” Laugh laugh. Disgusting.

  • Let’s not forget about the single parents with one income that can’t find housing cuz the rental market has skyrocketed into 2k a month for an apt. Not fair!

    • Dead on how is the working folks that work at a normal job going to get by without Low income housing some of us don’t want that .

    • Is that price for an apartment in SoHum or all of Humboldt? I am looking at Humboldt Craig’s List and a small 375 square BR in Arcata is $750/month. Old Town Eureka &660 for a one BR apartment. In Fortuna a 1600 sq town house is $1500/month.

  • I know someone who only a little over a year ago bought a small piece of land. This person is born and raised in humboldt county and while looking at and trying to purchase several properties before ending up with the one he did, was usually outbid by supposibly a relatively small amount by some out of towner (he was dealing with local real estate agent) and the property he ended up with was not thru a real estate agent. Moral of the story, I find it wrong that local real estate agents won’t try there absolute hardest to get a property in the hands of a born an raised local before an out of towner. Which is supposibly what happened in this persons case.

    I know if i was a property owner that was selling, I’d much rather see my land go to a local then anyone else, even if it meant selling for a tad cheaper then I could get.

    • Conservation First!

      Very sad. We were able to save a small piece in Petrolia from growers, now hoping to save more. By buying it before an opportunist could buy it so we can facilitate a sale to a local, working family instead of the greedy out-of-town carpetbaggers…. The local working people need help to afford to stay here. I, too, wish the realtors would talk to the landowners about trying to protect their land from growers. Enough is enough, don’t ya think?

    • Sleepy Alligator

      The concept of only selling land to locals is unrealistic and ridiculous in this modern United States we all live in. A property owner who would only sell locally is a great thing as far as being dedicated to his community, but a real estate business that limited themselves to that way of thinking would be one that didn’t last long. And what about the local Humboldt people who have the desire to venture outside the County lines and buy land somewhere else, but couldn’t because everywhere else would be the same and only sell to their locals. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The freedom to move about anywhere in this country that any one of us desires is a beautiful thing in my opinion.

      • While I agree that people can move about where they choose and real estate agents would lose money if they only sold to locals, I do feel like locals should be more prioritized though, especially around here. I’m willing to wager someone that’s willing to spend a few hundred thousand on a few acres of land that’s down a dirt road with nothing but a small cabin on it probably isn’t doing it because they like living in small cabins in the middle of nowhere.

        • like college you have to get proof of residency and then get in state intuition after 1 yr of residency. . create proof of residency of 10yrs or more cap.

    • Retired R.E. Agent

      R.E. agents, by contract, “work” for the seller and are obligated to get the highest price and the terms for the seller. A good agent will try and benefit both parties, but when push comes to shove, they have to put the seller first. If they do otherwise, they run a strong risk of a major law suit and/or prison time.

  • Many older back to the land folks simply cannot resist these offers.. Places are selling at a rapid rate and real estate people are loving the commissions..

  • I would like to point out that many, many of the local hippie/homesteader’s children, that are local born and bred are driving around in $70000 trucks, taking vacations all winter, and living the lifestyle most of us only see in rap videos. You can’t tell me that selling land only to locals is a good idea. The only difference between some of the locals and the nonlocals is the location on their birth certificate.

    • I’d have to strongly disagree. I mean ya sure some locals drive around expensive trucks, but the only difference between locals and out of towners is there birth certificate? I’m sorry but NO. Most of the time out of towners have little or zero respect for the community / environment and only care about coming here and buying big chunks of land to trash and make as much money as they can as fast as they can. Not saying no locals do this, but it is far more frequent with out of towners I’d say

      • Um yes and no. I work downtown gville and I see way more young 18 to 30 yr old kids born and raised here driving around like they own the fucking world. Flat brims at 12 weed shirts at 13. And always so tan in winter.. then there are the local kids who work hard for a living and arents koudm. Those are the ones I like, but unfortunately too many are loud and revving heir huge engines for everyone to swoon at.

  • A friend with property on our road passed away recently and his ashes weren’t even cold before mega growers started asking if his widow would sell the land.

  • I Hate Marijuana

    This just sucks. How can anyone make a living anymore and own their own property if these greedy growers are buying it all up and pricing honest workers out of land ownership!

  • Sell sell sell!!

    Southern Humboldt Gentrification.
    Enjoy it while it lasts and while there is still value.
    Only a dummy holds on to something that depreciates.
    Anyone speak Bulgarian?

  • Meaghan Simpson

    Wait ’til the water runs low and next seasons rains are weak with dry warm El Nina following El Niño this year as much of CA has no rainfall like Riverside County no rain late 2015-2016 so far. Water. Where is all the water going to come from for all the mega poison grows? Surging mega industrial poison recreational grows and diminishing water resources all of which are getting sick polluted OY VAY!

    NORML always was for plain old legalization and never took legal stand protections of high grade heirloom organic medicinal marijuana. I used to call NORML lawyer lady and she said they do not want to dictate to people that they must abide by purity standards of heirloom organic for legalization. I see this as the beginning of turning cannabis from a medicine into a harmful health hazard like what corporations did to tobacco which has been a medicine used by shamans of native AMERICANS from the northern tip of N AMERICA to the southern tip of S AMERICA…before commercializations and perversions of thousands of poison PETRO chemicals… She said everyone should be able to grow and have the choice of methods and materials.
    Sad because protecting our heirloom organic values have not been supported by long term legalization.

  • Haven’t had the time to read all the comments, yet I can offer this:
    Like the exploitation of the land, or NOT, selling the land is up to the owner. ‘Blow it up’ or create a great income while respecting the environment. Similarly, the owner can sell to a person* who will exploit the land ‘for all it’s worth’, or to someone who will carry on a good lifestyle while making a 6 figure income. (*- Using various interview techniques and screening processes. I know).
    As far a land value, well, if you look at the property as a business, much land in the ET is selling way below the market value. Any business that can net an annual 6 figures sells for 7 figures. (Granted, the new Water Board regs, etc, may, to some degree change this in coming years, as many pieces of property can’t sustain a large crop and keep water in the creeks). And yes, a great income and environmental sensitivity are compatible.
    This is another karmic test for land owners. Will they (as many have) just take the highest dollar, never mind the consequences to the land/ environment/ community? Often, yes. Unfortunately the ‘class’ we took in ‘capitalism’ didn’t talk about nor compare other ‘values’.
    Rise above that! A new type of ‘Put ‘Em In The Sun’, community education program is needed.

    • I dont get it?

      I’ve always been under the impression that if you sell your property, you no longer own or have any say over what happens on the property. I don’t get why you guys whine about people growing on the property after you sold it. This is 2016. People smoke and grow weed. GET OVER IT.

  • Jon Yalcinkaya

    For one thing it states that marijuana “infuses more than $400 million a year into the Humboldt economy alone” only a few paragraphs from where the Wildlife Conservancy talks about marijuana growers paying over $5 million more for a piece of land than it would have originally gone for. Though that is only one instance on one piece of property, it is indicative of marijuana adding a great deal more than $400 million a year to our local economy.

    But that isn’t really fair is it? That is the price of land, not the money that necessarily goes into the economy. The economy that I know is driven by local sales of goods and services. The sale prices of land is not among that economy. That money or the loans associated with it would go to Redwood Capital and probably hurt the local economy more than anything b/c of the loans/etc leaving less to spend here on doctors, auto mechanics, fish, etc.

    Maybe the $400 million is a low-ball of the the money Weed Inc. infuses into Humboldt’s economy, but I don’t think that this shows an inconsistency in this article. Those two numbers seem to me to be apples and oranges.

  • Don’t expect anything from local real estate agents. They sold out to greed and short term profits many years ago. They’ve been justifying outrageous sales prices as a matter of “supply and demand.” They’re no longer interested in local people with real jobs, because anyone working a real job around here can’t afford rent or mortgage unless your income is 6 figures. Then we have a special few who buy, trash, and dump houses that go back on the market as fixer-uppers starting at 375k. I know someone who cleaned up a property that was left completely trashed after a local realtor converted it to an indoor grow in a scheme to buy the property. When the place got busted because s/he was a complete amateur, the deal was over. S/he just abandoned the deal (agreement to buy), and left the former owners with an unsalable home. My friend spent two years cleaning this place up only to get evicted after the former owners got foreclosed. So, we’re at the “mercy” of realtors who have little compassion for the working class here, and county Supervisors who do nothing to address the hopeless Humboldt housing whoring going on all around us. Maybe it will finally sink in when there’s no more local work force because they were driven out by greed and corruption.

  • As someone w a real estate license I can tell u it’s my fiduciary duty to my client to present all offers. My clients decide weather to sell to locals or out of state investors. Most don’t ask who is behind the offer or what their intentions are.
    A good handful are so concerned w the final $ that they won’t be swayed to value local roots.
    On another topic I personally know three fairly large growers who have been raised by back to the landers here and their scenes are nasty messes. Their only concern is not ending up poor and stressed like their upbringing. Coming from parent tht rejected the value of money these folks have become the antithesis of their upbringing. Two of em happily share what they have and are outgoing community members but their not clean, well organized or interested in raising their families in a cabin down a dirt road where money is scarce and their answer has come in the form of the old family friend, cannabis.

    • Someone call the District Attorney

      A fiduciary duty is a legal duty to act solely in another party’s interests. Parties owing this duty are called fiduciaries. The individuals to whom they owe a duty are called principals. Fiduciaries may not profit from their relationship with their principals unless they have the principals’ express informed consent. So you are in violation of your own fiduciary duty because you profit from the seller. I think the greed for money is your real intent.

  • I have express informed consent. In writing

  • When I take a dump, my crack is on the pot. Sometimes my crack goes loco on the pot

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