Supervisors Set to Pass Commercial Marijuana Ordinance Tuesday

Ryan Burns / Monday, Jan. 25 @ 5:08 p.m. / Government , marijuana

Tuesday afternoon the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors plans to finalize the language in its Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance (CMMLUO), along with the environmental mitigation measures required under state law, and adopt the thing. In fact, Tuesday’s meeting is the last chance the board will have to pass the ordinance if it hopes to have the rules in place before the March 1 deadline that appears in Assembly Bill 243, part of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act passed last year.

The board hopes to have these regulations in place in time for the upcoming cultivation season, Senior Planner Steve Lazar said in an email, though it may prove difficult for many growers to receive the proper permits before the season begins.

But the ordinance is something of a rush-job, designed to get rules in place before the March 1 deadline — even as State Assemblymember Jim Wood works to get that deadline removed from his legislation.

“As has been noted,” Lazar continued, “the ordinance has been designed as a cautious but comprehensive first step.  The Board has expressed their interest and commitment to further refinement and broadening of its scope and scale under future efforts and more detailed environmental review and analysis.”

Meanwhile, Wood’s urgency legislation to remove the deadline, AB 21, easily passed in the Senate and is now headed back to the Assembly. If it passes there, it heads to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, and he has already indicated support for the bill.

The hearing on the CMMLUO is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. tomorrow. If you’d like a look at the ordinance in its entirety, click the link at the bottom of this post and you’ll get a big pdf.

Here’s the press release from Assemblymember Wood’s office:

Today AB 21, Assemblyman Wood’s urgency measure that would remove the March 1st deadline from last year’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA), was passed by the State Senate (35-3).  The bill is now headed back to the Assembly for concurrence before moving the Governor’s desk for signature.

Assemblyman Wood said, “I am grateful to the Senate for working with me on this important issue, it is crucially important the deadline is repealed as soon as possible. We are only one step away from putting this on the Governor’s desk. With my colleagues and stakeholders all working together, I am confident we will get this done soon.”

AB 21 will go back to the Assembly tomorrow where it may be referred to policy committee before receiving a hearing in front of the full Assembly.

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Eureka City Council and County Supervisors to Meet Jointly Tuesday to Discuss Homelessness Strategies

Ryan Burns / Monday, Jan. 25 @ 2:28 p.m. / Government , Homelessness

File photo of a September City Council meeting. | John Ferrara.

With all due respect to property crime and drug abuse, Eureka’s most talked-about, most fought-over, most challenging problem has to be homelessness. For more than a year now the city has been working with county officials and a Sacramento consulting firm called Focus Strategies to analyze the complexities of the problem in Eureka, where 730 homeless people were tallied on a single night last year, as well as the best approach toward solutions.

On Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m., the Eureka City Council and the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors will have a rare joint meeting in supervisors’ chambers to receive the latest report from Focus Strategies, called “Homeless Strategy and Implementation Plan — Phase 1.”

The report, which is available through the link at the bottom of this post, suggests a four-pronged strategy to reduce homelessness in Eureka and the county at large. 

Suggestion No. 1 is deceptively simple and already well underway — the adoption of a “Housing First” approach. In years past, governments and nonprofits often attempted to address homelessness through a “housing readiness” approach, forcing people to take life skills classes and complete detox programs before they’d be accepted into permanent housing. But there’s been a sea change in recent years as research has revealed that people fare much better when placed into permanent housing as the first step.

“Some programs in the community already operate using this approach,” the report notes, “but there is no consistent county-wide understanding or implementation of Housing First.”

The consulting firm suggests an official policy statement from the City, the County and the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition, a group that includes representatives from non-profit housing and service providers. Focus Strategies also suggests a summit to provide training for the leadership stakeholders in the city and county governments.

Suggestion No. 2 involves the Mobile Intervention and Services Team (MIST), a joint city-county effort launched a year ago to connect local homeless people with services. “This has been a very positive step,” the report says. “We recommend continuing and expanding MIST’s ability to directly offer housing assistance to people as part of the outreach process.”

Suggestion No. 3 is a bit more complex, even if it sounds simple: We need to make housing more available and easier to get into. The solution is not to reinvent the wheel but rather “to begin re-structuring and re-aligning existing efforts, including funding strategies” to make an array of housing options available. 

Possible options range from moving in with a family member to emergency shelters, short-term rentals and, for those with severe mental health and/or substance abuse problems or a long history of homelessness, permanent supportive housing. The report also suggests recruiting local landlords who are willing to rent to the homeless, something the county Department of Health and Human Services has been working on for a while now.

Suggestion No. 4 calls for using data to track the progress being made. “Much of the success of the new approach will depend on being able to analyze what is working, what is not, and make adjustments as needed,” the report states.

Last week the Eureka City Council declared a shelter crisis, which allows the city to bypass certain regulations and make city-owned properties available as emergency shelters. But with ongoing humanitarian, environmental and criminal concerns arising from encampments in the Palco Marsh, the City is looking for long-term solutions. And while the recently repurposed Multiple Assistance Center offers rapid re-housing to the neediest and highest-risk chronically homeless people, hundreds more remain unhoused.

Again, this joint meeting will take place Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the supervisors’ chambers at the Humboldt County Courthouse.

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Large-Scale Fight at the Humboldt County Jail; Several Inmates Tased; Nine Rearrested

Andrew Goff / Monday, Jan. 25 @ 1:51 p.m. / Crime

Top: Hiller, Bremer, Fraker
Middle: Perez, Haselip, James
Bottom: Norman, Semore, Mendez-Herrera 

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release: 

On Friday, January 22, 2016 at approximately 3 p.m. a large scale fight broke out in one of the Humboldt County Correctional Facility housing units. The Correctional Deputy was checking another area of the unit when the fight began. A total of nine inmates were observed physically fighting amongst each other. The Correctional Deputy requested additional deputies respond to that unit. Three of the inmates were Tased and one sprayed with Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) in order to stop the fighting. The inmates were separated and rehoused. Several were treated for minor injuries. None of the involved inmates cooperated with the investigation. The inmates involved were Chad Fraker (30), Logan Bremer (33), Jonas Semore (42), Zachary Norman (29), Christopher Mendez-Herrera (22), Jedediah Hiller (36), Brandon Haselip (27), Desmund James (22), and Reuben Perez (31). Each inmate has been rearrested for assault and battery, and disturbing the peace in a place of confinement.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

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(VIDEO) This is What a Sneaker Wave Looks Like

Andrew Goff / Monday, Jan. 25 @ 10:32 a.m. / How ‘Bout That Weather

It seems like roughly 30% of what your Lost Coast Outpost does is remind the populace that the ocean really does not care if you live or die. In that vein, today the Eureka arm of the National Weather Service issued a warning stating that Tuesday holds an increased risk of sneaker waves.

Do not let the ocean fool you,” NWS Eureka facebooks. “Long period waves can generate lulls of wave activity making the ocean look deceivingly calm and draw people closer to the water. These lulls end with a large set of breaking waves that will wash much farther up beaches, possibly knocking you down.”

To hammer this point home, please watch this video posted by The Oregonian over the weekend of a sneaker wave rushing toward beachgoers in Coos Bay, Oregon.

You may “whoa.” 

More tips from NWS below:



Welcome Back, Highway 299!

Andrew Goff / Monday, Jan. 25 @ 8:44 a.m. / Traffic

Photo: Caltrans

Guess what, Humboldt! If you would like to go to Redding today for some reason, hey, you should just go ahead and do that! Highway 299 near Big French Creek Road — slide central after last week’s heavy rains — has been cleared for the normal two-way traffic we’ve all grown to love. 

Huzzah! Thank you, Caltrans crews! Waterworks Park here we come!



HARDIN: Marketing Humboldt Weed — Have We Really Thought This Through?

John Hardin / Monday, Jan. 25 @ 7:24 a.m. / Op-Ed

I love marijuana and I smoke a lot of it, but by itself it’s pretty boring. Marijuana enhances a lot of things, like music, sex, food, conversation, art and even work, and it often inspires fascinating, funny and frightening ideas, all of which I find much more interesting than marijuana itself. In my nearly 40 year history with the herb, I’ve smoked a great variety of weed, some very potent, some not very potent at all, but as I look back, I remember the music. I remember the sex. I remember the conversations, and if I wrote them down, I even remember the ideas, but generally I don’t remember the weed.

I remember being high, so I must have had some weed, but as long I had weed, weed was just one of those things I took for granted, like a cup of hot coffee in the morning, or a cold beer at night. Those things don’t make the day exceptional, they make the day bearable. We all have our preferences about these things, but most of us don’t make them the central focus of our lives.

I bring this up because so many people around here seem really eager to tell me about how good their weed is. If someone offers to share a joint with me, I’m always grateful, and I usually try to say something nice about it, and in fact, around here, the pot is usually pretty damn good, so the compliments are heartfelt. On the other hand, too often around here, by the time we get to the end of the joint, all we have talked about is the weed in the joint. I do appreciate high-quality cannabis, but if I can’t find something else interesting about you – anything – no matter how good your pot is, it’s probably not good enough to make your company tolerable for long.

I understand that pot growers, like most other successful entrepreneurs, focus a lot of attention on producing a high quality product. I know that it takes a significant amount of knowledge and skill to grow top-notch sinsemilla, but personally the only thing I find more boring than gardening itself is listening to people talk about gardening. I think I have this in common with most cannabis consumers. This will certainly become increasingly true of cannabis consumers as we move towards legalization, because cannabis consumers who enjoy gardening will quickly become producers rather than consumers of cannabis.

From a marketing perspective, I think it much more important to understand how the consumer interacts with the product than to focus on the product itself. You can only show so many trichome close-ups, and award-winning strain names only mean so much. To successfully market a brand of cannabis in a competitive, legal, free market, it becomes critical to understand the customer, and to focus on how your product enhances their lives.

Remember “Miller Time”? “At the end of a hard day’s work, it’s time to head for the best-tasting beer you can find. That’s Miller Time.” They don’t say “Miller beer will get you drunk faster than any other beer.” They don’t even say their beer tastes good. They just say it’s “the best tasting beer you can find.” That’s all they say about their beer. They spend the whole commercial telling you that you’re a noble, hard-working man, the kind of man that makes this country great, and at the end of a long day at work, you deserve a beer. Of course any beer tastes good at the end of a long day of work, but wouldn’t you rather drink the beer that appreciates you?

Budweiser on the other hand, wants you to associate their product with good times and good friends. That’s why Budweiser sponsors so many concerts, parties and sporting events. They want you to remember that Budweiser makes the party happen, and that wherever you had a great time, Budweiser was right there with you. Do they tell us anything about the product? If they do, you can bet it’s the most boring part of the commercial.

Now think about how this applies to branding cannabis, especially with regard to the name “Humboldt,” and some of the other brands it will likely compete with. I know that Bob Marley’s heirs inked a deal to market cannabis products bearing the brand name “Marley,” and Willie Nelson recently announced plans to market a line of cannabis products bearing his own name. What does the name Bob Marley mean to cannabis consumers? Bob Marley stands for freedom, the triumph of oppressed people, and cultural revolution. What about Willie Nelson? Willie appeals to red-blooded Americans, stout working people of modest means and conventional beliefs.

Now ask yourself, “What does the name ‘Humboldt’ conjure up in the minds of America’s bongloaders?” I mean, besides pot snobs, dope yuppies and shadowy drug dealers who destroy natural habitat to exploit marijuana prohibition for profit? Do you think pot smokers identify with Indian killers, forest rapers, gold miners and redneck dirt farmers? Honestly, what else have you got?

Which brand of weed do I want to smoke? Find out next week when I tell you what we have to do to make the name “Humboldt” a marketing goldmine. You’re not going to like it.

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John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.



GET YOUR PORT ON: Mythical Artichokes

Joel Mielke / Sunday, Jan. 24 @ 10:05 a.m. / Cartoon