How To Convince Growers Being An Informant is A Good Thing
Erik Eschker has the unenviable task of convincing Humboldt Co. growers to “inform” on themselves. For more than a decade, Eschker, a Professor of Economics at HSU has provided a monthly index of economic activity across the county which business people as well as County Supervisors and others use to make educated decisions. It tracks, according to the North Coast Journal, “employment, manufacturing, home sales, retail sales, hospitality and electricity consumption.” But, for obvious reasons, this index hasn’t included our county’s prinicipal economic activity–marijuana. Eschker says that he’s hoping to change this. “County Supervisors and others felt we had to get some data…I think it is very important.” Eschker is relying on information from a variety of sources including, of course, sales of the ubiquitous turkey bags–an industry standard for packaging pounds of dried, trimmed marijuana buds.
However, he and his two student assistants are hoping to get information from the source, from the growers themselves. This is fraught with complications. He has compiled a survey that he hopes will be responded to by “community minded growers” who understand the value to Humboldt Co. of this information. He needs a commitment to fill out the survey and either respond by mail or (eventually) online every month. He needs to either meet the grower (though no names are necessary) or connect through a trusted respondent such as Charlie Custer in Southern Humboldt. The grower will then be assigned a pin number and their survey answers will be connected to this anonymous number.
Southern Humboldt attorney Eric Kirk when contacted offered his concern that “maybe it’s a low chance but it’s not insignificant” that law enforcement might subpoena these records so the grower needs to be very careful to maintain anonymity. Eschker acknowledges this could be a problem but is willing to work with respondents to achieve a comfort level necessary for their involvement. He stresses in his letter to growers, “All data will remain strictly confidential and we will report only an overall average and not amounts from any individuals.”
Eschker and colleagues at HSU hope to eventually form what Associate Professor of Sociology Josh Meise calls a “national center for interdisciplinary research on marijuana.” The North Coast Journal says that Meise, Eschker and others, “… an interdisciplinary collection of faculty, mainly from the social sciences, who meet once or twice a month, are working together to form this center. According to the NCJ, Meisel explained,
“Collectively we are researching the social, health, economic and environmental impacts of marijuana. Our long-term vision is to create a national center for interdisciplinary research on marijuana.”
Meisel said that given the cultural and financial significance of cannabis in the so-called Emerald Triangle of Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity counties, HSU is well positioned for this research. “Beyond our geographic proximity to marijuana-growing areas and the communities impacted, we have a faculty and institutional vision that places emphasis on environmental responsibility and social justice. We’re interested in capitalizing on this geographic advantage and international reputation.”
Eschker’s task is going to be difficult. Growers are notoriously secretive and for good reason. Nonetheless, as cannabis creeps slowly into the mainstream, Humboldt and its residents need all the information they can get to prepare for a changing future. If you are a grower, please consider helping accumulate accurate information on our marijuana economy by becoming an economic informant, in complete confidentiality, reporting monthly on your own economic activities. This data will be amassed with that of many other people. If you’re interested in participating you can call Charley Custer at 923-1440 or contact Erick Eschker, Director, Humboldt Economic Index and Professor, Department of Economics at Humboldt State University, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 707-826-3216.