John Hardin / Monday, June 19 @ 6:31 a.m. / Op-Ed
HARDIN: Do We Need More New Grows in Humboldt County?
Our Board of Supervisors won’t lift a finger to help poor working people in this community, but they don’t mind bending over backwards for drug dealers. The BOS dropped everything to hammer out new cannabis cultivation regulations before some artificial state deadline. It’s not like we don’t have more pressing real problems here in Humboldt County, like the housing crisis, addiction, drug related deaths, poverty, Hep-C, and the lack of economic diversity, but drug dealers don’t care about those things, so the BOS doesn’t do anything about them.
The Board of Supervisors made it a priority to fast-track the new cannabis cultivation ordinance, and now that they’ve spent the taxpayers money to write it and put it into place, the industry has just thumbed its nose at it. Only 125 growers have successfully completed their applications. Another 2,000+ placeholder applications sit there at the Planning Department where they provide cover for gigantic new, environmentally destructive, illegal grows like the one that got raided last week in Blocksburg. The County’s new cannabis cultivation ordinance didn’t mitigate the destruction wrought by the greenrush; the County’s new cannabis cultivation ordinance fueled the greenrush.
By all estimations, more than 90 percent of Humboldt County growers remain outside the law, and the industry continues to grow exponentially. After all the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors has done, with the taxpayer’s money, to accommodate this industry, less than 2 percent of Humboldt County growers went to the trouble of completing the application. At the same time, thousands of gigantic new grows sprang up all over Humboldt County, set up by black market drug dealers from all over the country who came here to take advantage of the invitation our Board of Supervisors sent them.
Legalizing pot didn’t make cops any less violent. It didn’t make politicians any less corrupt, and it didn’t make drug dealers any less sneaky and self-centered. Just because the American people have come to know cannabis as a benign and benevolent ally, and many people have worked hard to change the law in a growing number of states, that doesn’t mean that drug dealers aren’t sneaky, scummy, self-centered people who are always looking for ways to cheat the system and take advantage of people.
That coarse, greedy drug dealer attitude causes most of the problem we see in our community. Drug dealers created our housing crisis, and continue to use it against us. Drug dealers don’t care about anyone but themselves, and they’re quick to blame others for the problems they cause. That’s why we have no shelter in Southern Humboldt. That’s why we have vigilante violence in Southern Humboldt, and that’s why poverty, addiction and drug related deaths are on the rise in Humboldt County. Drug dealers scapegoat the poor and homeless to divert attention away from the harm they themselves cause. Drug dealers corrode communities and breed poverty and addiction all over America. Why should it be any different here?
Instead of being charitable and working to hold the community together, drug dealers use money and violence to tear the community apart. Instead of upholding community values and becoming pillars of the community, drug dealers find sneaky new ways to evade regulations and avoid paying taxes, while they watch the community crumble around them, and instead of learning to do something productive with their lives, drug dealers look for places where corrupt politicians make harmful laws, and find sneaky ways to exploit those opportunities for profit. That’s why drug dealers come to Humboldt County, and why we have so many of the problems that we do.
Drug dealers saw a place where it was already pretty easy to grow weed, and heard the county say, “We’re not going to send the Sheriff anymore; you’ll have to talk to the Planning Department.” and drug dealers thought to themselves, “How many light-deps can I pull off before those desk jockeys in Eureka even find me?” and the greenrush was on. There was no rush to comply with regulations. There was a rush of drug dealers who came here to exploit a legal loophole and take advantage of a small rural community.
Well, now the Board of Supervisors wants to spend more of the taxpayers’ money to invite even more drug dealers into Humboldt County. They want to make it easier to establish new grows in Humboldt County. Does anyone think we need more new grows in Humboldt County? The idea behind adopting these regulations in the first place was to allow Humboldt County’s “heritage growers” the opportunity to move their “mom and pop” businesses into the legal market. It wasn’t about inviting drug dealers from all over the country to come to Humboldt County to set up gigantic, new, destructive, illegal grows to serve their out-of-state black market distributors.
As it stands, the regulations say that all new legal grows must be located on soil suitable for agriculture aka “prime ag soil”. Makes sense, right? The proposed change would permit growers to level forests and truck in imported soil to build more new grows in forest habitat. Isn’t that why we adopted regulations to begin with, to prevent drug dealers from moving in, chopping up the forest, and blowing up big new grows? The County absolutely should not allow any more new grows in Humboldt County’s forest habitat, and we should not allow the Board of Supervisors to lure any more drug dealers into our forests with the stench of their corruption.