Blocksburg Raid Leads to Dialogue, Writes Hezekiah Allen in Letter to the Editor

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Marijuana raid by Robin Collins

Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies and CAMP raided a Blocksburg marijuana grow in the midst of getting permitted on Tuesday.

To the Community, Over the last few days Humboldt has been paying close attention to the raids in the Blocksburg Area. One raid in particular has been especially difficult for the community.

I’m not going to try to tell you how to see it. I’m not even going to tell you how I see it. The fact is, people see it differently. And—for the first time ever—we are having a balanced and open dialogue about the elephant in the county.

In difficult times, I have found, it is often good to take a deep breath and give thanks. So, here goes…Inhale…

First and foremost, thank you to the grower and the consultant for sharing their story. Your courage in sharing your story has stimulated a robust public dialogue. I am sorry for your loss.

Thank you to the community—in advance—for coming together to support each other through this type of catastrophic event. It is so difficult as a small farmer to have your crop destroyed and still make ends meet. I am thankful that our community has persisted through decades of prohibition and I am confident that together we can make it through this transition to regulation when the raids will end.

Thanks to the media, Kym Kemp especially. The balance in the coverage is heartening. It is so good to finally be having an honest conversation about cannabis, cultivation and the commerce that supports much of Humboldt.

Mayfield, Downey and Bronson

Sheriff Mike Downey center [Photo from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office]

And, a special thank you to Sheriff Mike Downey…I honestly can’t type those words without tensing up. The response to giving thanks for raids in Humboldt is physiological; it causes nausea, anxiety and ties every muscle in my body into knots (a lot like the planning department when they had to review our permits). Its not that I don’t respect law enforcement. I do. I always have. I am glad there are there in emergency situations, to deal with the most difficult, painful and traumatic things our society does to itself. But I do think policing has gotten off track. And one of the ways I think it is off track is the war on drugs, especially cannabis.I’m biased. I grew up in Humboldt County. As a young child I experienced the high of the war on drugs. In high school I was a “long haired hippy” during the timber war. I have been marginalized my whole life. And the Humboldt County Sheriff was the bogey of that marginalization. Overcoming my cultural fear, shame and inferiority is a big driving force motivating me to do the work I do to regulate cannabis. And, in overcoming those things and doing that work, I must reiterate what I said…A special thank you to Sheriff Mike Downey. Thank you for affirming your commitment to the permitting process, for reassuring growers in the county and thank you for taking the time to explain why this raid was different.Thank you to the Supervisors for being available to my friends and community to listen and hold the sheriff accountable.Giving thanks doesn’t mean I am thankful this happened. It sucks that it happened. It sucks that things like this have happened every summer all my life. Cannabis policy has sucked for a long time.

Capture of Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance

Partial capture of Humboldt County’s Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance Fee Overview. See here for County Website.

It’s not going to get better over night. But it is getting better. So in the midst of this difficult transition, thanks for letting me share a moment of gratitude with you.

And, as I give thanks the pain of having old wounds reopened fades away. The knots untie themselves and I exhale as focus returns… And, I realize that we don’t have time to dwell on gratitude. It’s time to get to work.

August 23 is coming soon. Pre-registrations have to be filed if you want to be a permitted grower. So, if you haven’t filed give thanks in advance for your participation. In closing, one last thing: I am thankful we are on this roller coaster together.
Hezekiah Allen



  • 3000 plants is a small grow?

    • According to state law, yes.

      Type 2 Small Cultivation license allow for up to 10,000 square feet (slightly under 1/4 of an acre) of cultivation. It is common for commercial growers to have several hundred or several thousand plants in 10,000 square feet.

      The truth is, plant count is pretty irrelevant when it comes to understanding the scale of a cultivation operation. Here is an explanation:

      Plants are highly variable in size. A typical commercial cannabis plant in CA can range from 1 ounce to 10 pounds of yield. The resource (water, energy) and the value of the crop are significant public policy considerations, yet it is very difficult to determine those impacts when their is such a high degree of variability. And that is simply for flowering plants. It is also possible that some of the plants at the facility were nursery stock; nursery stock is very compact, with 50 plants or more fitting in a 2 square foot tray.

      Square footage on the other hand is much more standard in terms of yields, impacts and value. For example, 1 ten pound plant takes up 100 square feet. I could fill that same 100 square feet with 100 small plants, and probably harvest about the same amount. Square footage is a much better indicator of the impacts a grow is having.

      Also important to understand that the root of the “plant count” metric is federal prohibition. Specifically, 99 plants was the cutoff for mandatory minimum sentencing at the federal level; so 99 plants become the de facto threshold for “big.” Additionally, federal enforcement funding was allocated based on the number of plants seized. Historically, plant count has been the bedrock of prohibition based enforcement.

      However, medical cannabis has been legal for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, the state is just now regulating this activity. As this public policy dialogue matures it is becoming very clear that the plant count framework has led to some pretty negative impacts, by forcing many growers to grow the largest possible plants. These larger plants are more visible and harder to contain (smell) and they also take a lot more water because the grower irrigates for a much longer growing season that is required to grow such large plants.

      It’s time to stop referencing plant county. It doesn’t help.

    • Henchman Of Justice

      Both the Reps from Healdsburgh (Mcguire and Woods)

      Had their medical mj bills up for a vote…..AND LOST.

      Who really believes 2 Healdsburgh dippos are gonna represent Humboldt. Not gonna happen. Humboldt is an isolated hick county politically.

  • Didn’t an armed robbery occur on Homestead Rd a few days ago? Trimmers took 30 lbs that was owed to them at gunpoint. The busts started right after that. Why no mention of that? It had to be some of the reason the busts are happening out there.

    • 30 lbs was owed to them? Or were they owed a couple grand? Not to mention the sheriff let the armed robbers with their gun go. What’s up with that?

  • Attorney A.P. Ed’s response to this situation. “This press release contains a complete reversal of the Sheriff’s stated policy. It was made quite clear than anyone who was “in the permitting process” would not be raided, altho they might be inspected. There are 848 people who have started the process by filing notices of activity. Eight have permits. The sheriff’s new policy means the other 840 have simply created evidence to be used in court. I regard this as a major breach of trust, and it amounts to entrapment.

    Want to bet that what happened was this?: Deputy Holt told the landlord that the garden was illegal because it didn’t have a permit. “OMG “said the landlord, “then go get that illegal garden off my land.” In other words the Deputy created the complaint that he then acted on.

    I would remind the Sheriff and his deputies that community trust is the basis of all law enforcement that is not occupation; and community trust requires at a minimum that the Sheriff tell the truth and not change policies after people have relied on his word. This press release is a slap in the face of the Board of Supervisors, the Planning Department, and the people of the county of Humboldt.

    We, and I think you will find that the Board of Supervisors and Planning Department are included in “we”, we thought the Sheriff was cooperating with the county in its effort to end the black market, and create a sound economy of legal cannabis cultivation in Humboldt County. Clearly we were wrong. We trusted the Sheriff, and this is what we get for it.

    Perhaps we need a new ballot initiative that prohibits Measure Z money from going to the Sheriff’s department. Why should we pay for our own destruction?

    • A Real Ma Grower

      Well said! What I hate about this whole process is that no matter how many plants I grow ( rather than the size of my grow) we have all been tagged to be responsible for the largest and most egregious destructive grows from all years past. Like we’re the convicted felons rather than infractions! I hope Wood’s “Cottage Farmers” AB 2516 passes.

      • Very well put thank you both!!!
        It would be great if the sheriffs didn’t pick and choose their busts based on their own personal preference and/or who’s their good Ole boy buddy or others who’ve paid them off.
        If they really went after the biggest most destructive grows I don’t think the community would see that as a problem. The 16,000 plant bust in sprowel creek a few years ago was applauded by locals, just like huge 600,000 plant busts in national forests nearby.

        This permit thing is playing out really poorly, the planning dept probably won’t get them processed for a good year at least, really, weren’t applications turned in a few months ago??? Getting a permit for anything here takes forever but they knew this was coming.

        It’s almost the equivalent of the dmv saying apply for a drivers license only they don’t have enough people to process the application so you continually worry about getting pulled over, ticketed and your car impounded even tho you’ve done your part of the required paperwork.

      • AB 2516 is looking very good. It is one of few cannabis bills that passed on to the senate floor yesterday.

    • They didn’t apply for a permit until the day after the helicopter came over, and then, didn’t do the full application, Its their own fault. Were they gonna file earlier? I think not…they waited until they saw the Cops, got scared, and ran down and filed. hardly a cooperative grower. Also, the property OWNER told the cops to pull plants if illegal, they rented the land. The OWNER has say, not a renter…If they want the say,,BUY land…

      • A rant is a rant, ofcourse ofcourse

        The sheriffs press release was very self serving. The farmers had been working with the county since the very beginning. No one will speak the truth on this matter though. So much has already been lost. Land owner has to sign off on permit application. They knew the exact “legal” amount they were able to grow and get permitted for. Isn’t it funny, how they really haven’t said why it got cut down. I mean, come on, did you listen to the kmud sound clip? The cops are covering their own ass in this case. Really,”oh well if there are other crimes being committed”. Whatever!!! If there were other crimes, parolees working the location, outstanding damage to the environment, any of those things, a garden that size, a complaint? that grower would be in jail! What’s the real reason sheriff?!?….
        “Well, it’s still federally illegal, but we’re walking away from other sites if people are on that list, but it’s still illegal, but we really are working with the county, have no fear…but, ya know…I have my head up my ass, so….still apply, and we’ll come have a friendly inspection and throw your trash onto the ground, cut your garden down, and leave the mess for you to clean up. Funny, right, why do we even bring a chipper? It looks good on the back of that truck though. Haha, we like these people who are busting there ass to come into compliance to have to witness those plants die, leave them wilting, until the grower goes and cleans them up. The county needs a reminder of how we protect our citizens from vegetative growth.
        Thanks for storing that water legally, here, we’re gonna go ahead and drain those water tanks in the most unethical of ways, just to make sure YOU don’t waste our prescious resources and watch that water flow all over the ground.”

        I have much love for the cops in this county, I really do. They have to deal with so much. However, this is an absolute outrage. I truly wish that the grower here would stand up and fight for what is right, so the rest of us won’t feel like we’re wasting our time.

      • The devil is in the details. It would appear as such that they took the “in the process” part as a quick and dirty gray area hoping they wouldn’t get busted on land they don’t even own. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.

        • A rant is a rant, ofcourse ofcourse

          You don’t have to own the land to get permitted. With any landlords knowledge and signature you can apply and that is supposed to be enough to be within good standing. I think a lot of people are not realizing that aspect in this specific situation. The landlord KNEW, his name was on the permit. It is all a grey area at this point. This happening though, means all those other 800 + people that were gonna be pumping money into the county might just turn tail and run. What’s funny, is (per the sheriffs press release), the week before they already had their paperwork in, although it was the lowest entry. Their paperwork on the 4th, was even further in the process. It seems they did not just all of a sudden decide to try to be legit, it was that way from the beginning. Reading the sheriff press release though, it makes it sound like some idiot tried to hurry up and get things going the day after a flyover. The cops own statements contradict themselves regarding that. I also don’t believe you are able to quote something that someone said. So they were reiterating possible statement’s made by this person, while not under arrest, in a non quoted format. Doesn’t that seem suspicious?

    • Very well said.

  • Snitch and Grab Pinko

    Plenty of money to pay snitches in the new fee structure. Maybe we can pay the neighbor informants too, then we will can have our system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, party holds power, making progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people and employed by the state.

  • Signing up for the county’s program is a bit like giving up one’s 5th ammendment rights as far as law enforcement is concerned.

  • The government decided to not declassify pot. Even if your state or county declassifies, the feds will bust you. UNLESS your Sheriff is a Constitutional Sheriff who takes full responsibility for defending & protecting the rights of the people of his county. Any Sheriff who has accepted the federal grants, the Strong Cities Network UN program, the merging of federal employees, such as BLM, FISH & Wildlife, EPA, within it’s force, is not being a Constitutional Sheriff. Non-Constitutional sheriff’s should be recalled if they refuse to get educated as to their proper role. The Sheriff is the most important role for defending the Constitutional rights in his county against federal overreach. Sheriff Mack has info on this, for the people & for the Sheriffs.

    • A few links that should help you understand why the government keeps a stronghold.

      Govt owns patents.
      List of patents 2008.
      30,000 patents. You use govt building, they own your invention, painting, etc
      Removes barrier to research so they can keep the patents, but refuses to declassify so they can steal plants.

    • Also, people forget that the new incoming presidents’ administration can do whatever they want about pot. Start raids again, on dispensaries and gardens, pull folks over, bust smokers, whatever. It all starts over with a new Pres…and Trump and Hillary are both against pot lately, even medicinal…

      • Michael, the Clinton campaign has made it clear in press releases that she will reschedule cannabis if elected. It was reaffirmed in her tweets yesterday after the DEA news broke. I believe her evolving on the issue was a concession on her part due to Bernie Sander’s pressure. She may have been a buttoned up good girl in her young days who says she never tried it, but on this issue I think she sees the handwriting on the wall and is listening to her advisors. I’m not a Hillary fan by any means, but she gets a pass from me on the CSA Scheduling issue.

      • True. Johnson wants to get filthy rich by regulating, taxing & fines, through federal enforcement.
        There is a candidate who says the drug war is insane & that drugs need to be decriminalized, & power given back to the states. His name is Darrell Castle. If you loved Ron Paul, you’ll love this guy. No UN, no Agenda 21, no Federal Reserves, no Income tax, no BULLCRAP from runaway government.
        Unfortunately, citizens are too used to being told how to run their own lives, that the concept of self governing with moral principles scares them. It takes them awhile to comprehend his message. He has been described as 100% constitutional 100% of the time.
        There’s still hope for liberty.

    • Mendocino has had two Constitutional Sheriffs since 1970, Sheriff Reno Bartolomei and Sheriff Tony Craver. The first refused to participate in the Building Code Wars of 1974-1980, and the second started his OWN program to protect us little pot family folks.
      Sheriff Craver took our pictures, issued County IDs, knew our locations, and swore that his records would NOT be shared with freeloading bureaucrats. When he retired (to Colorado) he took the records with him.
      I doubt we will ever see the likes of him (or Sheriff Reno B) again. The tail isn’t wagging the dog; the fleas are wagging the tail. af

  • Notice the unpermitted grading and huge potential for erosion into the watershed.. A major factor in our loss of salmon and steelhead.. A Fish and Wildlife inspection would have been all over these growers..

  • Just playing devil’s advocate here, so be nice. Everyone in those County Office’s plays by the rules. They pay their full share of taxes and complain about it. They put in year’s of service with no hope of getting rich. Then a grower walks in, paying in cash, accompanied by an attorney, declaring in writing that he (or she) is ‘technically’ a criminal but really wants to join the ‘system’. Now some people have this idea, I don’t know why, that some growers have lots of cash. Wheelbarrows of cash. So, this ‘transitional’ period just might seem a scooch ‘unfair’ to the grower who loses one crop, but prisons across America are full of people who’s only crime was ‘possession’ of a tiny fraction of that crop. What is ‘fair’? I’d say you’re pretty lucky up there in Humboldt. Hang in there.

  • I could care less whether the grower started the permitting process because of fear they were about to get busted. The fact that they did fill out the paperwork (however poorly), means they decided to become part of the legal system and that’s going to lead them towards cleaning up their shitty practices sooner, rather than later. At some point they would have been inspected by Fish and Wildlife and Waterboard staff and brought into compliance voluntarily or by abatement order if they dragged their feet.

    I like Mike Downey, even though I think he unwisely let his deputies off the leash on this one. Cops are not trained to play a long game, their culture around marijuana has been the prohibition model, so don’t expect them to behave differently when it comes time to make borderline decisions because they would rather whack the gardens than push some grower towards the new system. Mike’s the politician/cop and he needs to keep his staff under control to avoid the political blowback.

    I’d much rather see guys like the ones eradicated in the story on the list of people who are entering the new legal system than have them continue membership on the list of unregulated thousands who aren’t.

  • Permits from the government to grow weed! Ha! That’s a good one. They’re probably all sitting there patting each other on the back and laughing at how easy it was too fool the stoners into giving them all these stacks of money. Just bait the line with a permit to grow and they will come pay. And then we can even have more fun by going to raid them!

  • I wish they would get all you growers get a real job assholes stop taking the easy route out by growing they’re really teaching your family’s good morals freakin dope heads

    • Are you under the impression farming is easy work? How about guerrilla farming?

      The easy way out is getting a job in a toll booth. The easy way out is a job where you’re never forced to make ethical choices.

  • Ethical choices? It’s like the county has been invaded by a bunch of little Charles Hurwitzes with flat brims and dreds. It’s called a “debt for nature swap”. Normally I wouldn’t go so big. But, I gotta pay off this truck! After I get out of THE RIVER!

  • @hick…anyone see bowmans truck stuck in the river on sun. night late at reggae? pulled it out with a backhoe in front of a crowd of partygoers…he doesnt have flat brims or dreads…just sayn….the circus is already here, and has been for decades…

    • I don’t know who bowman is, but if it was the the new Tundra with all the after market parts available, that would have been funny. This guy not only had the shocks, bumpers, lights and fancy shit on the outside, but he took it a step further by adding tv screens in the head rests and a full on sound system. Damn, must have been a good year.

  • Over the years the number of clowns in the circus has increased dramatically. Especially the last 10-15. Can’t remember who said it, but. “Humboldt co. has turned into Disneyland for Dipshits!”

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