Civil Engineer Says He was Handcuffed and Plants Were Chopped During Planned Walkthrough of Grow During Permitting Process
They were not alone in this belief. Other growers, attorneys, this reporter, and even Humboldt County Undersheriff William Honsal believed the same thing. Honsal was quoted as saying, “[P]eople who’ve applied [to the permitting programs] don’t have to fear as long as they are abiding by environmental laws and ordinances.”
Roughly a week prior to the raid, Green Roads Senior Environmental Planner, Kaylie Saxon, met with Deputy Kyle Holt from the Sheriff’s Office and the actual landowner, according Collins. This was confirmed by Saxon. “We went over all the paperwork with them,” Collins said.
(The affidavit from Humboldt County was issued August 4th. Saxon said she also spoke to Steve Santos of Humboldt County’s Planning Department on August 5. “I was assured that we did have the proper paperwork in,” she told us.)
Deputy Holt, Collins said, told Saxon, ‘We will probably stop in on Tuesday.’ Collins said, “[T]he landowner gave them a key and permission to come.”
“There was nothing illegal going on,” Collins said so he and his client were ready to meet with officers on Tuesday to look at the grow. “I was looking to shake their hands,” Collins said. Instead, he said, he spent two hours in handcuffs.
“They drove up and they stopped a ways a way and pulled their guns,” Collins recounted. “They told us to put our hands up.” Collins and his client were detained for hours and the grow of high quality medical strains was entirely eradicated.
“I’ve had problems with permits before,”said Collins. As a civil engineer he works on building projects as well as on helping growers get the needed permits to be legal cannabis farmers. “I’ve brought Fish and Wildlife [officers] and the Water Board to many cannabis farms. If something is wrong, we figure out a solution and a timeline to fix it. Standard engineering stuff…This time they put me in handcuffs in the sun for two hours.”
Collins said he told the officers he had the affidavit but when he told them he had it electronically on his phone, they said, “You don’t have the paperwork.” Because it was all in email, they wouldn’t even look at it, said Collins who explained that it is a normal part of his business to use electronic devices to show paperwork. But the officers would not even look at it this time. According to Collins, they also said, “It wasn’t approved by the Planning Commission. Until they are approved, they are illegal.”
Neither Collins nor his client were arrested. They were free to leave in the end. There was no warrant left at the property and no environmental problems cited. “They told me they were doing open field eradication,” Collins said. The property has no residence on it and open field searches do not require warrants.
When asked what he thinks caused the Sheriff’s Department to raid this property, he said, “I think there is some miscommunication between the Sheriff’s and Planning Department; otherwise I am at a loss.” Collins said there were “over a 1000 plants.” But, he said, they were quite small. “It was a really late start. The plants had been in the ground maybe three weeks….We were working with the Planning Department. The property owner didn’t want things to happen that were illegal.”
Collins said he knew that bringing grows into compliance with new County and State rules would have “some bumps” but he didn’t think he’d end up in handcuffs. “I thought I was on the right side of things.”
Collins is hoping “this was an anomaly. I’m hoping to hear this is not how they are going to proceed in the future.”