Hippies and Rednecks Unite!

Legalization for 2012 is already stirring.  David Downs in his excellent column, Legalization Nation, put a piece on what is happening already in the marijuana world.  He talks about Richard Lee’s new coalition that is working to put legalization on the ballot and he has an informative and well written piece on Humboldt’s local situation which I’ve excerpted below.  But I highly recommend reading the whole thing.

Hippies and Rednecks Unite!

Some fifteen years after Californians okayed medical cannabis, one of
the pot-growing capitals of the world, Humboldt County, is finally
grappling with how to regulate what is largely regarded as its number
one economic engine. The Humboldt County Planning Commission drew
vicious snarls of discontent from rural growers January 7 by debating
a new “Marijuana Land Use”    ordinance that critics say is
unworkable.
Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel spokesperson Charley
Custer said the planning commission took no action, but he expects to
have an ordinance on the books by this time next year. Parts of the
ordinance drawing ire include a preposterous “no odor” rule for rural
outdoor farms, and strict environmental rules on diesel use, water
withdrawals, effluent, and housing codes. Such environmental mandates
seem hypocritical given the level of impact from local vineyards,
ranches, dairies, and the once-mighty timber industry, critics say.
For example, the proposed rules say there shall be no edibles in
Humboldt County, Custer said. “What does that have to do with
encouraging industrial growth through proper regulation? They are
eagerly quashing modes of economic development.”
Custer said the draft rules are copied from urban codes designed to
crush indoor pot farming in Arcada. But such municipal regulations
are unworkable in rural areas, where rednecks and hippies alike
bristle at government involvement. “It’s widely observed that county
building codes end 500 feet from the road,” said Custer.
The issue of regulating pot is being swept into a macro-narrative of
“city versus rural” that predates pot’s presence in Humboldt, he
said. Growers have privately called the draft ordinance “bullshit”
and “a continuing attempt to punish and control hippies.”
“There’s always been deep cultural division among progressives in
Humboldt, between the urban leather-patch-on-the-elbows types and the
feral hippies in the hills,” Custer added.
Unlike in pot stronghold Oakland, industry leaders don’t participate
financially in county politics. “Pot people express their will in
sheer numbers, like a flash mob at the courthouse with hundreds of
people waving pitchforks,” Custer said. They inherently resent the
“pay-to-play” system of government, and consequently, county planning
staff is not on their side. Pot farmers are just now learning to flex
their political muscles via donations, Custer said.
The Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel holds meetings on the
draft ordinance this week, Custer said.
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Hat tip to Woods who pointed out something I had yet to read
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