The grow site raided in the Blocksburg area this morning was a commercial cannabis operation that was coming into compliance with the county’s permitting rules, and which had filed all the paperwork that would normally make such an operation immune to an enforcement action of this kind.

About 1,000 plants were destroyed in the Sheriff’s Office bust this morning, according to Robin Collins, a civil engineer with Green Road Consulting who was detained at the site in handcuffs for several hours.

Collins, whose consultancy provides services to marijuana operations attempting to go legit, told the Outpost he went out to the site in Blocksburg with his client this morning because they had received word from the property’s landlord that the Sheriff’s Office intended to visit and tour the site. He wanted to be on-hand to help his client walk the deputies through the operation. Neither of them had any inkling that the grower, who has been going through the county’s permitting process, was about to be raided.

When he spoke to the Outpost by phone this afternoon, Collins was still baffled as to why the raid happened when his client had made every effort to ensure that he was working toward getting on the right side of the law.

“I’ve done every single step they’ve asked for to keep my clients in compliance,” he said.

Collins said that that though deputies kept him and his client in handcuffs for several hours, they ended up arresting neither of them. With the assistance of the state Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, deputies merely destroyed the crop and left.

Steve Santos, a development assistance division manager for the Humboldt County Planning and Building Department, confirmed to the Outpost that the grower and the parcel in question did, in fact, have active commercial cannabis permit applications registered and in good standing with the county – information that is available to law enforcement.

“The Sheriff does ask us who has applied, and who is trying to come into good standing,” Santos said. This particular client had submitted his application last week, he confirmed, and that information had been provided to the Sheriff’s Office.

Reached this afternoon, Sheriff Mike Downey said that his office does use the permit application data in the way Santos suggests – to determine which cultivation operations are attempting to be above-board, and – if they are, in fact, complying with all other relevant state law – to avoid taking enforcement action against them.

The system, he said, “has been working fairly well.” For instance, he said, during the Operation Yurok raids a few weeks ago officers came upon a large grow bordering tribal land. They checked the permit application list and determined that the operation was coming into compliance, and so they left it alone.

However, Downey said that he has not been in communication with his commanders in the field in Blocksburg today, and so does not know precisely what transpired out there or why. He said he didn’t know why this particular site was targeted by his people.

“Once we get that information back, we’ll take a look at it and see exactly why that site was visited, and why any action was taken or not taken,” he said, adding that more information would be made available tomorrow.

In the meanwhile, Collins – whose whole business is built around bringing the marijuana industry compliant with new state law and the county ordinances — said that today’s experience left him with a whole lot of questions. He’s been calling county supervisors, planning officials and anyone else he can think of to get answers. 

“I’m in the business of making farms legit, but when I’m getting treated like this by the Sheriff I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I don’t know how to react. This isn’t in the spirit of the ordinance.”