Monthly Archives: May 2011

New draft medical marijuana ordinance proposed for Humboldt County

The Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel has posted its latest proposal for a Humboldt County medical marijuana ordinance on its website. It’s long, but worth reading if you’re into policy wonkery around this subject.

Almost a month ago, there was a somewhat contentious meeting of the Humboldt County Planning Commission in Eureka, the county seat. The Planning Commission staff (as opposed to the Commissioners) had written a medical marijuana proposal based on City of Arcata laws written to appease opponents of marijuana cultivation, especially those who had become incensed by the proliferation of grow houses in Arcata. This proposed ordinance was very anti-pot and industry-restrictive. It was roundly trounced as unworkable, unenforceable, counter-productive to the evolution of the county-wide industry and as a throwback to the bad old days. In response, the Commissioners scrapped it and asked the community to come up with proposals in time for the next meeting on Thursday, May 12th.

The marijuana industry is undergoing a massive and rapid evolution. What Humboldt County—and California—needs is a pro-industry model ordinance that would create a grower-agency partnership to help the county’s number-one revenue generator evolve into the respected, above-ground commercial endeavor that it should be. HuMMAP has been working on this for over a year, with two of the main subjects in One Good Year being active participants in this process. There have been multiple drafts proposed, hashed-out, modified, rejected and reworked. This is the latest and best, though I should note that I have serious reservations about certain aspects of it. (I’ll do a separate commentary post tomorrow.)

Also, last year, another local group, the Humboldt Growers Association put forth their own draft. They have likewise submitted their revised draft to the Planning Commission staff, but it hasn’t been made public yet. The Planning staff had requested that all interested groups and individuals come to some agreement and submit one plan for consideration, but there are apparently some unresolvable differences between the two groups, so it will be interesting to see how it all pans out in the end. As well, we can expect the anti-pot milieu to pipe up and want their input, so the final result may not resemble anything anyone has submitted. No matter what, being Humboldt County, people will do what they want to do. I think by now the County has come to understand that if you want the honey, you don’t go swatting the hive. All it does is piss off the bees and keep them from being productive.

I should note here that I’ve been at most HuMMAP meetings, both filming and participating in the process (as well as being the webmaster). It is sometimes hard to do both, so I don’t always bring the camera. While the meetings can at times be somewhat unproductive and repetitive and will mostly not be material for the movie, the footage will provide a fascinating look back a decade or two from now. We will either be able to giggle at our earnest stumbling and fumbling or be seen as having made history. Maybe both.

All this is a huge leap from a little over a year ago, after the “What’s After Pot?” meeting at the Mateel Community Center in Redway. At that time, few politicians or county agency staff could say “marijuana” out loud. On Thursday evening, they will all be debating it in public.

What is Humboldt County’s real economic index?

Reprinted here from the Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel‘s website:

The Humboldt Economic Index has been used as a measure of economic activity across the county for over a decade, but it has never included our county’s prinicipal economic activity—pot production. Erick Eschker, Director of the Humboldt Economic Index and Professor in the Department of Economics at Humboldt State University, is working to make the index reflect Humboldt’s real-world economy and has developed an anonymous marijuana production survey as a way to gather data while protecting the privacy of growers.

The better we can establish the importance of the marijuana industry to Humboldt County, the more credibility the grower community will have with both government officials and the non-grower general public. The marijuana economy and the community it has supported for over 30 years must become normal, matter of fact and openly discussed, not a matter for snickering, denial or wild speculation. A conspicuous perch on the monthly county economic index will not only lend credibility to what is already in place and working, but will provide a basis for identifying areas where improvement is needed.

If you’re interested in participating, see the introductory letter printed below. You can remain completely anonymous, but there needs to be a one-time verification that you are a real, local grower. You can be verified by contacting Erick Eschker directly or by going through HuMMAP. What verification means is that someone from HuMMAP whom you know would act as a one-time anonymous intermediary, telling Erick that we know someone who is willing to do the survey. He would then assign you a number which we would pass on to you. From then on, you would send in a short form directly to him each month with that number on it.

These days, that level of cloak and dagger secrecy is hardly necessary, with so many people growing very publicly under California’s medical marijuana laws. But, to get a real assessment of the economic activity in the county, it has to include as many people as possible, regardless of operation size or legal status. Erick is interested in gathering data from big and small growers, indoor and outdoor, across the county.

Charley Custer of HuMMAP can be reached at 707-923-1440 and Erick Eschker can be reached at or 707-826-3216


NOTE: if you would like, I can also act as an intermediary to verify you with Professor Eschker. Contact me through the contact info on this site.