Reducing Risk in the Final Raid Season of Unregulated Cannabis
Below is a guest post from Hezekiah Allen published first on his website:
I have mixed feelings about the summer season. Sure, I love the beautiful weather, the river and the coast. But… growing up in Southern Humboldt County—an area that is completely dependent on commercial cannabis—the summer means another thing: raids.
For decades, law enforcement has taken para-military action every summer in communities like mine throughout California. Armed, sometimes masked officers would show up—sometimes hanging from helicopters, and often kicking down doors or cutting gates—to eradicate cannabis plants. Sometimes these officers took on multinational criminal organizations and their equipment and tactics may be warranted. But often this enforcement was aimed at hard working family farmers like mine.
The public didn’t really know the difference, and one size fits all enforcement continued. And we continued to be in hiding, some of us afraid, anxious or ashamed, all of us keeping our mouths shut about what we did.
This was the shadow we lived in. A shadow caused by a public that had been systematically misinformed over decades and law enforcement that destroyed crops and seized assets with impunity. Now, times have changed. Public opinion has evolved. The voters, the legislature and law enforcement all agree: regulation is the future. This is the final raid season before the implementation of regulations for commercial cannabis.
Now, with the coming of regulations, it is the hopes of me and my community that enforcement will give way to inspections, that raids will give way to appointments.
A lot has changed since I was growing up. Cannabis policy reform has continued forward built on the solid foundation of Proposition 215. The passage of the MCRSA and the AUMA together provide the supplies we need to build the next level, but that all has to wait until 2018.
As hard as our team is working in Sacramento to make sure the regulations will work for you, so to do you have to work hard to make sure you are following the rules as they come online.
This is going to be a long and challenging raid season. And it is not going to get any easier in future years. One of the hardest things I do is take phone calls from business owners or farmers that have lost their crop or inventory–or worse– been arrested or had friends and family arrested. There are a few questions I ask that shape my response to those calls. The following is simply my perspective on this coming raid season.
Stay safe out there. Have courage!
Some observations about the coming season
Enforcement is starting early: Often enforcement picks up later in the summer, late July or August. This year enforcement seems to be picking up much earlier, with widespread reports of law enforcement activity reported in late May.
Enforcement is getting more complicated: There are more agencies. Action is taking place for more reasons. Enforcement used to be more simple. It is getting a lot more complicated. There are several agencies, enforcing different rules. Growing up all I needed to know was it the sheriff or the feds? These days the Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as code enforcement and other state and local agencies are pursuing various enforcement activities–and are only sometimes coordinating with one another.
So are the violations: as more agencies enter the cannabis enforcement space, the complexity of the charges is also increasing. Cultivation, trafficking, conspiracy and a few other common charges are now complemented by hundreds of fines and violations, both existing and proposed.
There are a few things you can do to reduce your risk
Compliance has to be a line item in your work plan and/or budget. This doesn’t mean it has to be a big a cost. The same way you plan your travel schedule around the harvest and your budget includes the annual cost of supplies, you now need to start figuring in compliance. Many cottage, specialty and small businesses can’t afford consultants and attorneys and will need to embrace a do it yourself approach to compliance.
- Local Government: Get your permit or application in to the county. If none are available, tell your county supervisor what you are doing and where you are doing it.
- Board of Equalization: Get your sellers permit!
- Water Board: Get your wastewater waiver (North Coast and Central Valley)
- Department of Fish and Wildlife: Get your 1600 “lake and streambed alteration (LSA) agreement”
- Grow other crops too.
- Store more rainwater and use conservation irrigation practices.
- Stay small. Start with a modest and humble proposal and grow together with your community and awareness and acceptance of commercial cannabis increases
- Be a good neighbor.
- Guns are tools not toys.
- Loud noises should be kept to daytime hours.
- Shared access roads should be well maintained in coordination with your neighbors.
- Shared access roads are not racetracks. Vehicles are tools not toys. Drive accordingly.
- Dogs should be well trained and well cared for. Take steps to avoid them getting out and bothering neighbors.
- Keep other animals and livestock well cared for and ensure they don’t get into waterways or neighbors gardens or yards.