High Times with Humboldt Grow

Photo From Humboldt Grow Magazine

A small but increasingly visible magazine devoted to marijuana began publishing on the North Coast last year. A third issue of Humboldt Grow is due out this month. The major force behind the magazine is a 29 year old from Ukiah, CA and former teaching student at HSU, Eric Sligh. He and two of his friends (who use the aliases Joe Jefe and Jacob Dillion) hope to have the next magazine hot off the presses in time for our traditional Southern Humboldt Reggae festival[s].

Sligh is not confining his energy to one medium. He hopes to join the local news scene with his offering of a new blog also called Humboldt Grow which has only been up and running one day. “My goal,” he says, “is to be part of the discourse, to contribute what I can. All of the [blogs] add pieces to the whole story. I want to add what I can.”

The edgy yet surprisingly professional magazine published by Sligh had trouble getting printed as several companies had difficulty with its in-your-face photos of growers and their scenes. Nonetheless, the young entrepreneurs have more than financial expansion in mind. Sligh says his magazine and his blog are an attempt to open the dialogue. “I like to see [marijuana] legaliazed–end commerical grows in the National Forests and get it out of residential areas…I’d like to see marijuana regulated and taxed,” Sligh says. “I think it could be grown like grapes on 20 to 30 acres…then sold like grapes are to big wineries.”

Sligh concedes that Humboldt and Mendocino could face economic difficulty if cannabis is legalized. “The Central Valley agricultural business could take over…but we lose anyway. I’m not walking in the Mendocino National Forest…I’m afraid to.”

He believes that because of the expertise in our area many people could carve out a specialty niche for themselves even if the plant was legalized. “I’ve been talking about growing since I was 12…It’s a huge part of our culture.” Besides, he adds, “[Legalizing marijuana] is the right thing to do” even if our area has to suffer some economic drawbacks.

Sligh thinks it is time to start talking about “the herb.” Seemingly unafraid of the consequences, he does take some precautions but he says, “[Ours is a] backwoodsy culture where everyone thinks it is cool to be paranoid.…We need to stop lying and talk.” His photos bring the readers right into the grow rooms and patches of Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. Articles give information on how to garden and show a colorful variety of the illegal plant. Other stories include growers like the one who allowed pre and post photographs of his just busted scene.

Although the magazine features several growers in astonishingly compromising positions (aliases and false whereabouts are used but many incredibly crisp photos contain full face shots), Sligh says he knows a core group of radical people committed to opening the conversation by allowing themselves and their product to be photographed.

The first issues contain several photos of large indoor grows but Sligh insists that it is ” absolutely horrible that marijuana is grown under artificial light. It is insane. Marijuana is awesome outdoor.” In future issues, he plans to address diesel spills and damage to neighborhoods.

“I’m not going to lie–a lot of medical [marijuana] is BS,” Sligh says explaining that he also plans to address the way the marijuana growers have “gone down the medical route for awhile–which is great and I don’t want to take away from that but there are lies and deceit within the medical argument…There are many healthy 20 year olds brainwashed with the medical thing…They are even changing the lingo.” Sligh pauses and drawls sarcastically, “OK, if I medicate here?” He snorts in disbelief. “Let’s keep discussing whether marijuana has recreational value. It isn’t that different from a beer or a cigarette. I use it recreationally.”

The magazine’s brilliant photos and insight into the youthful growers’ community has captured the attention of Fox News and CNBC. He and his staff refused to have anything to do with Fox but, according to Sligh, he is going to be interviewed by CNBC July 23rd with an episode on the economic impacts of marijuana on the North Coast. The episode is set to be aired sometime this fall.

This isn’t their first media exposure either. Cannabis Culture, a well known Canadian publication, featured Humboldt Grow in a five page spread late last year. Since then they have had thousands of hits on their website and have sent their magazine to places as far as Canada, Holland, Spain, and Israel.


All photos courtesy of Eric Sligh



  • He’s right. Some honest dialog without the lies and the sham of 215 “wellness dispensaries” is definitely in order.

    Interesting post.

    • We need to realize whats in front of us, potential for all to profit, from government to smokers haha (FUCK GOVERNMENT!)

  • Sounds like a GREAT magazine put together by people who want to have an honest conversation about marijuana, and the incalculable damage done by both “moral rectitude” on the far right and the head-in-the-sand attitude on the far left. Amen.

  • Humboldt Medical Supply: the different dispensary
    Arcata Eye May 20, 2008 Vol 12 No. 31 page 1
    Kevin L. Hoover – Eye Editor

    DOWNTOWN – Hang out for any length of time outside Arcata’s four medical cannabis dispensaries and you will observe people in obvious medical distress there to obtain needed medicine.

    At all but one, you’ll also see folks whose maladies are not so apparent – strapping young men arriving in contractor-style trucks who might be on break from a roofing or painting job; college-age adults driving rice rockets with fancy wheels; and the “scruffy” types who quickly scuttle off with friends to a nearby remove – an alley or someone’s recessed driveway – to huddle over the prized bag.

    While no one can fairly diagnose cannabis customers just by passing glimpses, it’s fair to wonder what debilitating conditions might lurk beneath these patrons’ hale and hardy outward appearance, for which they need treatment with high-kick pot.

    Those questions don’t arise at Humboldt Medical Supply, LLC (HMS). There, a distinctly clinical scene awaits the potential cannabis customer – one which makes some of them turn on their heel and leave on sight. That’s no accident – HMS Board President Eric Heimstadt doesn’t service the stoner trade. “If they’re playing hacky-sack in the parking lot and talking to ‘Shady’ on their cell phone, we don’t want them,” Heimstadt said.

    “They” don’t want HMC, either – the glaring white walls bearing patriotic decor, such as a kitschy painting of Apollo astronauts setting foot on the moon near an American flag, plus abundant logging and other historical memorabilia tends to deter those who lack a serious medical reason for seeking cannabis. “It freaks them out,” Heimstadt said.

    If the clinical atmosphere doesn’t send the stoners reeling, the screening will. “They ask us, ‘Can we see your buds?’ We say ‘No,’” Heimstadt said. Instead, prospective patients are handed a hefty, 12-page pre-intake form that requires specific documentation of a debilitating disorder, plus a physician release so that the ailment can be verified with the patient’s doctor. Medications must also be brought in and inspected. And unlike other dispensaries, HMS refuses to sell to college students. “They say, ‘What do you mean, intake?’” Heimstadt said.

    All applications are analyzed by the clinics two registered nurses, who double as case managers. HMS would like to hire an MSW as a counselor once some of the current regulatory disputes with the City are resolved. All HMS employees receive health insurance and full benefits.

    The stringent intake requirements have taken a toll on inquiries, which is fine with HMS. On opening a few months ago at the former PC Sacchi Chevrolet dealership in the Danco-owned building on Eighth and I streets, HMS had up to 20 walk-ins a week looking to become patients. “Then word got out that we ‘re not that kind of place, now it’s down the three, four, five a week,” Heimstadt said.

    At a different former car dealership a few blocks away at Sixth and I streets, The Humboldt Cooperative (THC) boasts some 6,000 patients, with thousands more forecast for addition this year. There, a steady stream of cars pull up, park, pop in, snag bags of nugs through a security window and head out.

    With just 80 patients, Heimstadt can’t compete with THC, and doesn’t want to. he projects his maximum eventual caseload at 300. He also doesn’t want to charge as much for medicine as the other dispensaries, at which an ounce of cannabis might sell for $230 to $300. HMS charges about $200 per ounce, and Heimstadt says he’d like to get the price down to $68 to $70 per ounce. About half the clinic’s patients’ those who suffer from a terminal disease and who make less than $20,000 per year, receive their medicine free of charge.

    HMS’s grow rooms have lain fallow since the recent Planning Commission ruling that agriculture, including downtown marijuana grows, are not permitted under the General Plan. That frustrates Heimstadt and his staff, given the level of preparation that went into building the facility.

    NASA-grade ventilation systems with energy-efficient lighting, plus recycling of soil and filtration of wastewater are unlike anything in place at other Arcata dispensaries. HMS even participates in PG&E’s ClimateSmart program for purchasing carbon offsets. In terms of security, well over a dozen high-resolution security cameras monitor every nook and cranny of the facility, inside and out.

    At this point, only the front office is open for business as the City Council and planning Commission push and pull over whether to allow growing downtown.

    Heimstadt finds the City’s shapeshifting policies quixotic and capricious. “The reason we are where we are is that we were told to be there by the City,” he said. “We would have been anywhere we were told to be.” He wonders why HMS and the other clinics have been allowed to install large grow facilities, two of them fully operative, if the activity isn’t permitted. “We have a fully signed-off building permit that talks about grows,” he said.

    “We have 12 places on the Plaza that sell booze, and they’re worried about my shop?” he puzzled.

    Heimstadt is stoic about the reversals, but also committed to assisting decision makers with bringing rational implementation of Prop 215 into being. Some dispensaries’ leaders are mostly unseen – one recently offered to “work things out privately” with a councilmember – an offer that was rejected. But Heimstadt and his staff are present at and participate publicly in every relevant City meeting, often dropping off multiple copies of tidily assembled briefing binders for council members and committee members to study.

    It was for the above reasons that Mayor Mark Wheetley recently dubbed HMS the “gold bar standard” in implementing a genuinely medical model for cannabis dispensation.

    The courtly Heimstadt, 59, doesn’t dabble in the chest-thumping sanctimony that sometimes emanates from medical marijuana advocates. Somewhat enervated by recently diagnosed lymphoma, he remains cheerful but blunt, sometimes quoting Shakespeare but just as readily able to snatch verbiage from a Frank Zappa lyric.

    He breezily acknowledges something most ardent medical cannabis supporters won’t or don’t – that the dispensary business is rife with corruption, and that some sell grow house-grown dope of questionable purity to recreational users at pumped-up prices under the aegis of medical caregiving.

    “It’s called the Compassionate Use Act, not the ‘make loads of money act,’” he said. “It’s supposed to be medical marijuana, which was voted in by John Q. Public and Johnny Law to take care of people with medical problems, and not recreational users.”

    Heimstadt shares the concern of Planning Commission Chair Robert Flint, who noted recently that federal authorities could descend at any time and shut down the burgeoning clinics.

    “I worry about the feds, too,” Heimstadt said. “My best defense is that I’m not selling to kids in cars with spinning rims. I want to put together a model that no jury in the world would convict.”

    He, like many, lays blame for the distorted and corrupt cannabis-scape on outmoded laws. “If it was legal, you wouldn’t have grow houses,” he said. “You don’t have ‘brew houses.’”

  • Rose, thanks for the link and the kind words.

    Cristina, I’m actually pretty impressed by the magazine–very high quality photos especially.

    Sick old Man, Thanks for bringing my attention to Kevin’s reporting on this dispensary. I wish I had more access to his reporting it is often excellent. More and more places like this clinic and this magazine are trying to address marijuana in honest ways. Maybe society will change enough to legalize it.

  • US Govt Holds Patent on Medical Pot (#6,630,507) — since 2003

    Yes, you read that correctly. The same government that insists that cannabis has no medical value, filed for and was awarded a patent (assigned to the US Dept of Health and Human Services) on the use of cannabis derived cannabinoids in the treatment of a wide variety of ailments, including stroke, trauma, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, HIV dementia, auto-immune disorders . . . the list goes on.

  • Great post Kym. I would agree that it is time for marijuana to be legalized and let the cards fall where they will. I have trouble with all the incongruities the current system has.

  • EVERYTHING should be legal unless it damages property. Regulation of business came with the federal reserve act and is un-American, it is a tool of the bankers. Prior to Americans being forced to use paper money instead of gold and silver there were no beaurocrats wanting license fees and taxes.
    Freedom means being able to create any type of life you want for yourself without tribute to some clown in a uniform and a funny hat.

  • You know, a newer generation of growers could be what is needed. Perhaps, this will be the generation that will push legalization, commercialization, taxation and be done with the illegal cowboy/drug runner ideal. I could see it being a competitive agriculutural product. Sierra Nevada isn’t Anhauser Busch and Lost Coast Brewery products aren’t Coors products.
    (Sierra Nevada being the 10th largest brewer and Lost Coast being the 51st largest brewer of domestic beers.)

    Let the economic chips fall where they may. Get the creep factor out of it, say Bullshit to the 215 cons and let the commercial market play out.

    If Eric believes the hills of Humboldt and Mendocino can produce a finer product than RJ Reynolds can produce in Modesto, then that may be the future. Small batch marijuana, like small batch bourbon in Kentucky. Knob Creek is no Early Times rotgut whiskey.

    I think the time for legalizing marijuana for it to be produced commercially is now. No more raids. No more grow houses. No more creepy underground economy.

  • I’d love to see that. I’m not sure Humboldt and Mendocino would escape unscathed but I think in the long run we would be better off.

  • Kym, I was kind of expecting more discussion on this thread. Perhaps people don’t want to open up this topic for discussion.
    I thought your appearance on the Environment show would prompt future discussions. Hmmmm, I guess we just wait and see.

  • I think a lot of things have to be changed if we hope to really enjoy life here or anywhere.

    I certainly agree that straight talk about marijuana is important, but given all the serious problems we face, I see it as one of many factors to consider in surviving right now. From what I’ve seen, most marijuana growers, the vast majority, are in it for the money. And as far as I’m concerned that’s okay. It certainly no worse than working for a box store (which is killing downtown) and I’m glad some of the young folks have decided to stay here and grow pot rather than moving far away to work for Chevron or teach English Literature at UCSB or whatever.

    The question is what are you (we) doing with the money we wrangled out of the marijuana industry?

    That’s a question I’ve asked of some growers I know. What about contributing something to your community? Some of them scoffed at the idea. They would do it, maybe, if everyone else did. Some were at least tolerant of the idea. And a few of them I know are generous with their money and make significant contributions to the community. But I’ve never seen any actual organized effort on the part of growers to do something for the community.

    A conscious public effort on the part of growers (not impossible to accomplish) would go a long way toward winning the next vote. And it might even feel good. It might even be a step in the right direction.

    Woody Guthrie tells a story of Pretty Boy Floyd, the depression-era bank robber: “Every crime in Oklahoma was added to his name.” But one day a carload of groceries appeared along with a note: “You say that I’m robber, you say that I’m a thief. Well, here a Christmas dinner for the families on relief”

    Do you know any grower who deserves the Pretty Boy Floyd Award?


  • Joe, I’ve done a lot of fundraising over the years and while I may not “know” many of the large contributers are growers, I’m pretty sure that is the case. They may not advertise their growers’ status but many do good deeds on a regular basis. They contribute money, time, and energy to helping schools, sports programs, and hospice to name a few. The problem with giving out the Pretty Boy Floyd award is that most growers are less open about their profession than he was.

    Ekovox, I’m hoping that people will start to open up. I’m trying to make this a safe place to discuss issues around marijuana. It is scary though.

  • I think that it’s great somebody is taking action on the growing scenario in our country. One complaint though is that some of this information is false. For one… some strains of marijuana help nausea and aches more than any other expensive FDA approved drug provides. 2nd, I have researched lights extensively and have facts that prove certain indoor lights provide more Lumens per square foot than the sun does. 3rd, insect and pest control is the number 1 reason for failed crops; indoor grow completely eliminates that.

  • Casey, I’m not sure about your other info but I would have to say that to the best of my knowledge the indoor environment makes mildews, spider mites etc. more not less likely to happen It is true, I believe, that indoor grows make it easier to get rid of pests because there is a controlled environment BUT that control happens with the help of pesticides etc. that I wouldn’t want to be putting into my body. I’m not sure your average consumer is aware of what is on most (though certainly not all indoor marijuana.)

  • I have grown Cannabis and yes I did grow it for the money because I was totally sick of the poverty cycle I was stuck in. However I chose to make money this way because I love this herb and I am a committed organic gardener. Whenever I grow I get the most appreciative compliments.

    The article above mentions that ‘Sligh’ wants to see 23-30 acre grows. That’s OK but really that’s getting up toward monoculture and big biz. And what’s wrong with having it in residential areas? We all know that it’s harmless and when legal we won’t have to worry about ripoffs jumping the back fence. And everyone should be able to grow it with all their herbs, vegetables and ornamental’s in a diverse, companion planted, organic garden. Which is the only way to really grow anything properly. Please read ‘The One Straw Revolution’ and the books of ‘Permaculture’.

    I for one would be happy to grow about one or two hundred plants. That’s a lot of work. Sure it’s easy to grow, as a lot of people say but if you want to grow it to an extremely high quality then you really have to look after it and watch it. With many growers, growing small amounts each, they can grow it to a high standard and everyone can be looking after the strains that they prefer to grow. This way we can end up with a huge degree of diversity in the Cannabis gene pool and consumers will benefit with high quality and a real freedom of choice. And the community benefits with a large number of people employing themselves independently.

    And tax, why do we hear it said that when it’s legal it can be taxed. No thing should be taxed. If any thing should be taxed it’s money and that’s all. We need total reform of taxation as much as for prohibition. Tax has not only been used to collect money to fund government activities, tax is used just as much to control individuals and business and the economy. Remember that Cannabis prohibition was introduced as the ‘Marihuana Tax Act’.

    There is only one real and democratic form of tax I have ever heard of. The ‘Bank Withdrawal Tax’.

    I first heard of this tax from a man who I stood for council with. He was an accountant and he told me he had done much research on this idea and had worked on the figures and he assured me that it all worked out on paper. And he said that there was a history to it and it had been used in various countries around the world in the past. Apparently it had been used in several states in the US in the 1800’s but not any more, I can only guess for political reasons. I have tried to find some information on the net about this tax but so far I have not come up with anything and I’m not sure why. It has been called the Bank Withdrawal Tax and the Money Motion Tax but nothing comes up under those on the net.

    This tax is very simple and that seems to be why some people oppose it. They regard it as overly simplistic. Which is exactly what we want. A tax that is simple, that everyone can understand, and that every one can work out in a flash, instead of being tied to a desk with a calculator all day long. This tax will leave the accountants of business’ big and small free to do the work of looking after the company books instead of doing the governments job of calculating their tax at the expense of the business.

    Very simply it works like this. Every time someone takes any money out of the bank, a further 3% is withdrawn from the account and put into the governments Tax collecting account. That’s it.

    It was explained to me that this tax will tax those who can most afford to pay tax. The speculators, developers and big business. 3% does not sound like much but apparently the amount of money being transferred between accounts is vast and would easily generate sufficient funds to run a governments budget. Most important it taxes money and where its easiest to tax it. Why tax goods and services, that just complicates things enormously. If a government wants to generate income then surely the only thing to tax is the money itself and at the bank where all the money is being handled anyway. Everyone who does business and receives an income has to put their money in the bank. Then they withdraw it when they want to spend it. If you don’t want to pay tax, you leave your money in the bank. That way, when foreign companies make money in your country, they leave it in your banks for when they need to withdraw it for development purposes later on. This encourages big business to leave their money in the banks in small country towns as well. Which in turn encourages banks to keep the doors open in small country towns.

    The little guy now only pays 3% tax and when he earns cash in hand for small jobs he goes tax free. Sounds bad to some but the little guy is only going to spend the money which goes to a business which then promptly puts it back in the bank. It legalises the flow of money and lubricates the economy. And for all those on very low incomes like social welfare benefits, simply raise their income by 3% so they don’t notice it.

    Anyone who wants to stash their money under the bed, can if they want to but this wouldn’t make sense as they’re only paying 3% for that peace of mind for keeping their money safe in the bank. Same for big business. Why keep the money in a safe when that would cost them a fortune in security. Besides, they’re legally obliged to put the money in the bank.

    Calculating your tax would be a simple matter of putting your money in your account. And keeping an eye on your tax would be as simple as checking your bank statement. We all go to ATM’s, when you receive your receipt slip from the machine, there would be just two extra lines on it. We already see on that receipt, amount withdrawn, balance and amount available. So then we would see two new lines which would say, tax paid and tax payable.

    This tax replaces all other taxes, income tax, company tax, payroll tax, death taxes, and the tax I find most distasteful, land tax. Why should people not be able to own some land and then live with it in a wealthy state of poverty. Under the current state of affairs, to own land, you have to pay more money just to keep on owning it. People should have the right to live without money and live from and with their land.

    Where this tax would have a big problem is with tax departments. They would disappear, so they would savagely oppose it.

    I regard this tax as an equaliser. It sets the small man free and allows business to get on with the job of doing business instead of always having to work out the government cut at their own expense. Small business will then be able to compete effectively with big business.

    By reading websites like this one and sites for the major news distributors and the comments people make on their articles, it is clear that people are really ‘Coming Out’ and expressing an opposition to prohibition. The Internet seems to be responsible for that and I am grateful to it.

    It is ever so reassuring to see that the times they really are a changin’. Once we have this beast, prohibition finally dead and buried we can then get on with the job of reforming every thing else that needs reform.

    Thanks all for your sane contribution to that reform.

  • Mendo Resident upset

    Eric Sligh – 707.***.****


    Thanks for endangering us and our families…

    I chose to edit out Eric’s phone number. Kym

  • Would like to know how to get a subscription to grow magazine

  • Here is Eric’s blog. He isn’t good about commenting back but you could try.


  • Looking for to contact grower of quality MM for our small, fledgling collective in SD county.

  • I’m not sure this is the venue you are seeking.

  • I have grown for years in Ohio ( about 30 plus years) in apartments and have always paid taxes on my ” agricultural hobby” to the feds. to me its a far safer way to run a business so one dont go down like Capone. I think Obama will be taking care of the legal aspects of pot. ya dont smoke and not apreceate it. its less harmfull then booze or cigs, but it will be interesting to see how they deal with the tax issue. maybe something like alcohol ( 200 gallons a year for personell consumption) like 30 plants or so? I have been smoking for 35 years now and have no intensions of quitting, EVER. I grow over 100 plants a year on a 3 month cycle 3 times a year and make an EASY 30 to 40 thou after expenses.

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