Small Time Grower, Long Time Resident Writes of Being Surrounded by Industrial Marijuana Gardens and Being Threatened by Neighbors
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Erika Morlan sent a very similar version of this letter on August 3 to Supervisor Bohn. She has not yet heard back.
I’m writing to you, my elected representative, to express my sorrow, frustration and anger at the way this so-called Green Rush is destroying Humboldt’s rural communities. As I sit here inside my house in Honeydew, I am bombarded by the noise of two neighbors’ industrial fans and I am assailed by the painful odor of diesel exhaust from one neighbor’s generator. It is about 10:00 am as I write this – I could say the same if it was 10:00 pm or 5:00 am or any time of day or night, because the fans and generators never go off and there is nowhere in my house or on my land where the noise and stink do not reach me.
The open meadows all around me are gone, replaced with plastic: plastic greenhouses, plastic shade cloth, plastic tarps, plastic ground cover, plastic garbage. Where there is no plastic, there is dust, dust which is constantly being churned up by dozens of trucks and 4-wheelers, dust that will inevitably end up in the Mattole.
I used to feel safe in my neighborhood. Until now, I never felt the need to lock my doors or have gates on my driveway. I used to trust my neighbors. No more! Now, there are armed robberies which are not reported to law enforcement, there are dozens of imported workers milling about and guns going off mere yards from my house. And to add insult to injury, one neighbor has threatened to wage “war” against me if I report any of the illegal activities that are happening here.
(Let me stop for a moment and acknowledge that you have a personal relationship with this particular neighbor and that you think of his non-compliant, unpermitted operation as a model farm. Yes, that makes this awkward, but I really hope and believe that you are here to stand up for all of your constituents, especially those like me who are feeling helpless and afraid.)
I have lived on my land for 12 years. My ex-husband and I built everything by hand and with very little money. We raised our two daughters here, volunteering in the classroom at the Honeydew School every week. I have been an active member of the Honeydew Volunteer Fire Company for over a decade, sacrificing my time and livelihood to serve and protect my community. I have welcomed the recent newcomers to the neighborhood, handing out free eggs, veggies and cheese from my farm and even helping out in their greenhouses for no pay. I have worked very hard to earn the respect, trust and affection of the folks I have lived with and served since 2005.
And now, I find it unbearable to live here. My dream-come-true homestead has become a nightmare. I cry everyday. I have headaches and stomachaches everyday. My outrage and grief are so overwhelming, I am having a hard time with the daily tasks and chores that are necessary to keep my farm running smoothly.
My neighbors are unresponsive and even defiant, telling me that “it is what it is” and that they have no intention of changing their practices. I have begged and pleaded to no avail. These neighbors have no interest in being good neighbors – they are only interested in financial gain.
I’m not sure if there is anything you can do for me, except to hear me and to understand that I am not alone. Neighborhoods like mine all over the County are being held hostage by this new breed of industrial drug manufacturers (they are not farmers!) and it feels like us regular folk and long time residents have nowhere to turn. I guess I just want to put my concerns on record, especially in light of the threats I have received.
I’m also not sure what I am going to do; moving is out of the question- I am too young to retire and too old to start over. And unlike any of my new neighbors, I actually have a permit for my commercial cannabis garden (1900 sq ft specialty outdoors) – I worked too hard to just give that up now. My options seem so limited – I’m afraid of retribution if I “snitch” and while I fantasize about planting a field full of male hemp plants, doing something that mean is just not in my nature.
I could go on and on, but tears are making it hard to type and I have my farm to take care of …. so I will end here. But thank you for hearing my concerns, Rex. I would appreciate it if you could share them with your fellow supervisors and other county officials – I would like for as many people as possible to get a sense of what’s really going on in rural Humboldt.
Sincerely and with a broken heart, Erika Morlan
Note: the first version of this letter here did not include the author’s name. She changed her mind and we’ve updated the post with it.