The Outpost received a number of emailed responses to Monday’s story about political action committee California Cannabis Voice-Humboldt and its quest to pass a county ordinance regulating marijuana cultivation. That number was three — three emailed responses, which we’ve copied-and-pasted below. 

Part One: We Put the ‘Action’ in Political Action Committee

California Cannabis Voice-Humboldt (CCV-H) Over-Enthusiastic? Maybe. Getting it done? Definitely.

We all know what hasn’t been working for Humboldt County, the status quo. CCV-H is guilty — guilty of putting our passion for the bright future of Humboldt County into action. CCV-H strives to be a completely transparent and inclusive organization, whose members come from all walks of life in this unique community and is open to everyone who wishes to add their voice. All pertinent documents concerning the draft of the Cannabis Ordinance are available at [link], featuring a comment section where you can leave feedback as well as links to CCV-H’s Existing Debt and Three Month Expense Budget, and 2015 Operations Budget. Daily updates can be seen on our Facebook page.

Further, CCV-H held open public meetings regarding the ordinance in Blue Lake (11/6), Garberville (11/9), and Willow Creek (11/14), with a rollout of more public meetings on the way as the draft is modified through public input, all to be found on the Facebook page.

As for the environmental community, their level of participation is at their own discretion. The lines of communication at CCV-H have always been and continue to remain open to all who wish to use them, our contact information can be found through Facebook, the NationBuilder site as well as An alternate version of text, with clearly articulated specific policies would help promote collaboration and compromise. So far we have received only critiques, and most of them secondhand.

This process is ongoing and the draft, now in its fifth iteration, continues to evolve with public input. We at CCV-H desire above all else the passionate involvement of everyone who finds common ground in their love for Humboldt County, as a region and as a culture. Make no mistake, corporate interests are lobbying Sacramento to cut Humboldt out and replace small farmers with corporate mega grows. It is critical that our community work here in the county, but also engage in Sacramento if we are going to protect our future. It is time to dig deep and get engaged.

Do we have your attention yet?

—California Cannabis Voice - Humboldt

Part Two: The Aggrieved Hippie

California Cannabis Voice Humboldt has blown into town to sell a bill of goods. In my opinion they have never had an intention of crafting an ordinance that serves our county, but instead an intention of scooping up chips for the statewide game. Their style and their intentions are less than ethical, in my view.

In Mendocino County a parallel effort is under way that began well before CCVH came along. It is an authentic grass roots effort and is likely to produce a genuine product. That product is very unlikely to be passed by the Mendocino Board of Supervisors but will probably be passed by the voters. CCVH officials cannot be bothered to use such a genuine process; they have bad-mouthed it and have insulted some of the principal persons involved behind their backs, according to multiple informants.

I work with a group known as HuMMAP, the Humboldt-Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project, a group that has been active above ground for five years and that has written a draft marijuana ordinance for Humboldt County which went through a grass-roots drafting process, featuring many intense arguments and compromises that resulted in a consensus product. CCVH stepped right over our effort and I have to guess it is because they have a conflicting and hidden agenda. I for one (among others) predicted their plan would be to cut out the small grower while promoting much bigger grows. This is exactly what is happening. Is CCVH broadly inclusive? I hardly think so.

CCVH has sold many folks a huge bill of goods. With razzle dazzle and lots of money and some ego-hungry people they convinced many that they are here because the time is now and they will provide the answers — some other time. The drafting process [is] intended to get buy-in from anyone who will also let them have what they want. Most disturbing to me, they brought in Supervisor Ryan Sundberg, the person doing the most to block marijuana in Humboldt County. By getting his buy-in they hope to finesse it through our Board of Supervisors. Sundberg wants no growing in residential areas. CCVH provides for this by not dealing with anything under five acres, which allows Sundberg’s bad small-grow ordinance to stand.

Growing in residential areas? Take the many trailer parks for example. Who lives in them? People who live in small places like trailer parks are usually folks who cannot afford better, often due to disabilities. Many are on welfare of some kind, which in our culture is pathetically little. These include the people who are least able to afford dispensary prices and yet most needful of access to quality medical marijuana. A person named Steffani told our Planning Commission that at the trailer park she owns all residents are elderly, poor, and each grows a small amount of marijuana, and they cannot afford to grow indoors. They need to grow their own marijuana for strictly personal use, and there’s a whole lot of people in this situation, we’ve seen it first-hand. Sundberg blocked them. CCVH is endorsing this ripoff of the purest intentions of Proposition 215.

Humboldt is world-famous for its marijuana and that was due to the hippies. Hippies daringly smuggled in the best seeds from around the world and intentionally bred the best strains. For example, our hippies first developed the high cbd strains that are now being wildly sought after because of their therapeutic effects on pediatric seizures. Hippies are people with high integrity. If you are going to ripoff our marijuana you better also ripoff our values. We protect our poor. CCVH does not.

—Robert Sutherland, aka “The Man Who Walks in the Woods”

Part Three: The Agrarian Spirit Warrior

We are witnessing the logical results of a systemic failure to provide guidance and regulation to industry. The usual negatives of the cannabis industry are splashed across the headlines with morbid regularity. Environmentalists and law enforcement pit themselves against cannabis growers while a black market economy continues its relentless advances. It is time for consensus building; this morass must end.

America was built on farms, businesses and trade. We are a nation of people who hold a small farm in the country in our hearts. The homesteads of the Emerald Triangle exemplify the bootstrap American notion; carved from scratch on rugged, denigrated land. Cannabis has been especially responsible for the depth and strength of the lifeblood that now flows in our communities; as with all things powerful, it has a light side and a dark side. As a people, our ability to regulate for the positives is a true test of our future viability.

We must strike a balance; people need to be able to live and farm productively on the land they’ve invested themselves in, but we also need to honor the environment. A system of education and open-market access as incentive for good practice would yield dramatic results in the Emerald Triangle. The Emerald Growers Association has been actively promoting the education and normalization of cannabis growers; I am thrilled to sit on the Board of Directors and serve as Secretary for the organization.

The more we’re able to focus our energy on good, community values, the more effectively we can identify and remove the bad players. My argument is that most of the damage we see isn’t from willful destructiveness but more from a lack of knowledge concerning appropriate practices. The panels and discussions at various cannabis related events of late have been working to address this lack of knowledge in the community.

Unlike most forms of farming, cannabis farmers are often beginners. This means that there is a vast range of practices, some beneficial and some harmful. As a people, we have a duty to ourselves, to our communities and to the future of humanity to educate each other. We’ve seen an explosion in pests and diseases in the last ten years because the Emerald Triangle has become a monocrop reality. We have a cultural, social, spiritual and environmental duty to own this; it runs contrary to the deepest values of the back-to-the-land movement that the cannabis culture grew and flowered from.

Here’s why farming in the hills is viable and valuable:

Farming in the hills provides a different microclimate than the much colder valley floors. It is a direct trade-off; the land is more difficult to work but the growing potential is better. On our farm, we strike a careful balance between cropping and protecting our soil from erosion. The terraces we’ve put into our steep slope capture rainwater and filter it slowly into the groundwater. Our outflows are clean and slow, filtered through multiple straw-filled basins and check dammed as they march down the slope.

Our temperatures are consistently 15 to 30 degrees warmer during the winter than the valley floor. During the summer we top out 10 degrees cooler with an afternoon breeze, but it doesn’t cool off at night. These factors mean that we can produce summer hot crops that won’t finish on the valley floor (large watermelons, okra, prodigious tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), and grow winter vegetables with fewer frosts and freezes. Our south-slope full sun terraces at 3,000-feet elevation produce unique, boutique cannabis that we use for myriad medicinal, spiritual and social purposes.

It takes all types of farms, farmers, microclimates and ecosystems to produce the needs of a populace. Most of the cannabis farmers I know fall somewhere in the 3,000-10,000 square-foot of canopy, but a diversified homestead landscape is much more than just cannabis canopy. We grow approximately an acre of food crops and cannabis, working scrupulously to control our outflows. Our farm stores all of the water for our food crops and our cannabis harvest in ponds and tanks that we’ve put in over the years. We do honor to our future potential when we work together to grow our food, fiber and medicine with the use of compost, cover crops, mulch and bio-char to create more bounty over time.

A Cannabis Carrying Capacity Matrix designed by a broad coalition would seem the most logical place to start. Permits and regulation should focus on upholding the needs of the environment and our rural communities as a direct quid-pro-quo for white market access. Permits must be issued with workable compliance windows established so that we create incentives for the good players.

It is my opinion that regulation often hampers good people who follow the rules while allowing unscrupulous people to run amuck. It is my fervent hope that a regulated cannabis industry would explicitly include a triple bottom line understanding that honors community and ecology on an equal balance with economics.

As a people, we have the deep, truthful opportunity to replicate the good things that cannabis brings to our communities. The transmutation of cannabis into water tanks, tree plantings, beautiful homesteads and gardens has been a magical thing, supporting happy families and the rural economy. It gives me deep fulfillment and spiritual satisfaction to participate in the good energetics that cannabis has the ability to represent. When we’re able to focus on consensus, education, good practice and healthy communities, the economics will sort themselves out.

—Casey O’Neill