WHAT WE FOUND THERE: Stories From Humboldt’s Marijuana Culture

Amy Day & Anne Fricke / Saturday, Dec. 9 @ 8:32 a.m. / Marijuana and/or Cannabis , Our Culture

After several long months, seated at the kitchen table, we had hashed out the framework of an idea. A podcast. Two women. Multiple interviews. And a story that was needing to be told. We would call it “MEND - Life at the Seams.” Because we wanted to bear witness to the fact that through our stories, some thread of understanding and healing can take place. We wanted to remember that each humble, insignificant one of us holds a tiny sliver of this great web, and if we tend our corners well, we can do the delicate work of stitching it back together. (Or maybe even tear down the old broken banner and erect a new one in it’s place.) We wanted to share stories, poems, candid conversations, truth-bombs, art. And we wanted to begin from a single thread we knew well — Humboldt County’s marijuana culture.

When we started our project, long before it had a name, when we were still trying to conceptualize what creating a podcast would look like, our intentions were far simpler than what eventually we came away with. Back then we could feel the shifting and dismantling of our community so acutely that we were compelled to find and share the stories of the families that lived here — to document a dying tribe, as it were. We wanted the world to know that behind the media coverage of environmental destroyers and rag-tag criminals in a get-rich-quick scheme, there were honest, hard-working families living in the hills trying to live their life as they saw it should be lived, not how they were told live it. We did this, and more.

We made it clear, at the outset, that we did not want to get into the habit of talking to people who were in the cannabis world purely for profit. Those were the stories already being told, we said. Those were the dominant narratives all around. The folks just purely in it for the money. We told these stories to help ourselves and our community remember where we came from. Who we were before all this huge wave of industry began.

We met people who raised families here, we spoke with old friends, and we ventured into territory we had not originally intended, Eventually arriving at the final question of: what now? How does a community grow, to use Steve DeAngelo’s phrase, “out of the shadows and into the light”? How does a community founded on such strong, valued principles as sustainability, freedom, creativity and justice move forward and become successful in a realm overwhelmed with greed, an industry waiting to be taken over by Big Ag or Big Pharma, whoever can get control first? How do we keep a grasp on our history as we move forward into the future? How do we remain “us” in a world where we can’t compete as we have been?

[Anne: Perhaps my initial approach, or intention, was a bit naïve. I wanted to tell a specific story in defense of the sweet life my family has lived here. My initial inspiration came from speaking even with people from Northern Humboldt. Their perceptions of the Southern Humboldt culture were, at times, astonishing to me. They talked of gun-toting criminals and I thought of children laughing and jumping off rocks into the Eel River on a Tuesday. They suggested neglect and I remembered sweet gatherings at a small town hall out in the hills where we homeschooled our children together once a week, Waldorf-style. They mentioned environmental degradation and I tasted fresh vegetables grown organically in our garden, summer dinners sometimes consisting solely of those vegetables and fish caught in the ocean right off Humboldt. I wanted to prove those people wrong. But none of us won that battle.

While many people living out in the hills in Southern Humboldt do have sweet families and live lives in accordance with the natural rhythms and respect of the land, that does not negate the fact that there are gun-toting criminals without a care for the environment and what damage they may be inflicting on the land and the people around them, so long as they get their crop in. And this only seems to be getting worse. The ratio of caretakers of the land to takers from the land is, unfortunately, changing. It is a sad truth that “for sale” signs are popping up on the back roads, to be replaced quickly by sheet metal walls, tarp-covered fences, and large mounds of dirt and soil where trees once stood. I have seen all of these myself.]

[Amy: I think I came to this project almost more from disillusionment than from a place of romanticized ideas.

In the world in which I operate, I know very clearly what the hopes, dreams and values were, coming into the cannabis world as a trade.

It was never about growing ganja as a means into and of itself — although there was definitely a love of the plant involved in that choice.

Rather, the plant was a way to carve out an alternative existence in this world.

Move from the role of starving artist, unwilling clock-puncher or under-employed (and underpaid) visionary and find a way to bankroll our dreams.]

Tend the plant so it could tend us in turn.

Use what resources it provided us to travel, create, eat good clean food, and live in a place that feeds our souls and bodies. Have time to be of service in the community. Give from the abundance that came to us back to the people and places around us. Have some damn time with our kids rather than being chained to a desk all day long! Live in greater harmony with the natural rhythms and world. This is where we started. This is where we came from. And these were the stories we wanted to tell. And we found them — in great supply.

We believe these stories, as most stories have the power to do, could potentially change an outsider’s perspective of Humboldt, though perhaps not as much as we had originally hoped. Some of our favorite interviews were with the back-to-the-landers and people who had grown up here. We loved hearing the stories of those original intentions and values, the creation of the community as some of us know it today. What we learned was something we had perhaps not thought enough about before starting this project: Namely, there was no “marijuana culture” back in the late ’60s, ’70s. People started putting a few extra plants in the ground because it helped pay the land payment and fund their activism or their art. Yes, now there is a marijuana culture, and people flock here to exploit that, but perhaps understanding the original intentions and values of the people who brought the plant here can redeem the people of the area, to an extent, in the eyes of outsiders.

Reflecting back over the 20+ interviews we compiled, there are a few phrases that stand out to us. One was an interview with “Iris,” born and raised in SoHum, talking about CAMP and her dad getting held at gunpoint and taken to prison. But to her, “that wasn’t what was scary.” It was the lying. Being a kid and knowing that if you spoke about what your parents did then something bad would happen, you just didn’t know what. That story put a blur on the idyllic vision of children raised in the hills in a more natural, free and organic lifestyle.

Another one was something said after we had turned off the recorder when interviewing Jesse. “Cannabis is blood money.” Grow marijuana as organically and sustainably as you want, but once it hits the black market you know people are getting arrested, going to prison or worse. That was a conversation we wanted to come back to but unfortunately never did.

The end of Prohibition brings with it a whole slew of changes, some of which will and already are shifting this way of life in profound and irrevocable ways. But one thing we can look to in the future, we hope, is the end of stories such as these. If you still want to be a farmer, if you still want to caretake the land and eke out a living by working with this plant, let it be an ordinary undertaking. Let no one end up in jail because of this decision. The price will drop, yes! And it has very much already. It is not — and will not be — the same profitable gig that it once was when the market was fully black. But perhaps it can become something different. Something better, even. Stripped eventually of the profit motive, will cannabis once more become a way to live simply and sustainably upon the land? So far, the answer seems to be no. But, perhaps after the initial wave of Green Rush speculation dies down… we hope. We hope.

[Anne: What we found through these stories was a glimpse of the founding of a community, the creation of a subculture and, at the origin of both, two main components – the values of those who came in the late ’60s-’70s and made homes in the hills while fleeing the destructiveness and oppression of mainstream culture, coupled with the freedom of the black market. SoHum would not be the community it is without these two. The clinic, the community center, the radio station (shout out to KMUD), the small schools in the hills – they would not have happened without the visions, and at times the needs, of those hippie drop-outs of mainstream USA, nor without the funds gained from selling a little pot on the side. Humboldt is now treading through murky, unknown waters. It has yet to be seen what will happen to this community post-Prohibition, as the big force of capitalism slithers in and clamps its fangs into the resource many, until recently, have tended with reverence.]

Ultimately, we want people to remember that they can still, in this day, create community, create culture. Perhaps we are at the point though where we can no longer act surprised when it changes, or gets changed by pressure from outside forces. We ought to remain adaptable and aware that values shift with generations and with the needs of the times. It does no good to sit and lament the passing of a bygone, familiar way of life. It is time now to jump into the fray. To use our voices and to shape the changes taking place. With the threat of Big Pharma and Big Ag banging on our doors, ready to knock down our fragile walls, we must remember that this community, while paid for by black-market funds, was built on an ideology, ideals and values we must fight for in this new era of regulation and, let’s say it, Trump.

This is a no-holds-barred battle for the independence this community has had in shaping itself around its ideals. Now is not the time to stick our heads in the sand, or give up and sell our land, walking away with tails between our legs because the corporations and big businesses are going to win in the end. This is a time to be involved, be smart, and educate ourselves in a manner that makes us a worthy opposition in this realm, and hold true to the values that have made this community special. We can no longer just be hippies living a simple life out in the hills because the battle for independence has come to us. It is now our turn to stand up and fight.

[Amy: I’m proud of the voices we sat with.

The stories and wisdom we were able to share.

I worry, though, that, in the end - we’re only preaching to the choir.

That the people who are moving into this game now - will be unaffected by these narratives and ideas.

I worry that these values may, in fact, die, in a way, with us.

That the stories may not land where they need to go.]

We told these stories to help ourselves and our community remember where we came from. Who we were before all this huge wave of industry began.

Our hope now is that these can serve as a reminder – and a guidepost – to those who are choosing to move forward.

They call the old ones — the elders, the old-school outlaws, the back-to-the-landers who started this gig — the Legacy Farmers. And we wanted to share their legacy with the people moving inside this world right now.

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To hear these stories and get a deeper look at Humboldt’s marijuana culture, subscribe to our podcast, MEND: Life at the Seams on iTunes or Stitcher, or visit our website at mendpodcast.com.


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(UPDATE) More Info on Closure of 2018 Recreational Abalone Diving Season

John Ross Ferrara / Friday, Dec. 8 @ 1:31 p.m. / Ocean , wildlife


CDFW.

PREVIOUSLY

California Department of Fish & Wildlife press release:

The California Fish and Game Commission yesterday voted to close the 2018 northern California recreational abalone fishery due ongoing environmental conditions that have significantly impacted the abalone resource. The closure affects next year’s recreational abalone season, which was scheduled to open on April 1, 2018.

The Commission’s 4-0 decision (Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was absent) upholds the policies of the Abalone Recovery and Management Plan, which was adopted by the Commission in December 2005. Over the past several years, the Commission has taken several actions to reduce take and shorten the season to protect abalone from the unprecedented environmental conditions.

The Commission directed the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to work with stakeholders to deliver a new fishery management plan that includes guidance on navigating these unprecedented conditions. The Commission also directed CDFW to consider how the new fishery management plan can inform the potential reopening of some fishing opportunity for the 2019 season.

More information about California’s recreational abalone fisheries can be found on the CDFW website.



HSU Statement on the Loss of Student Erin Henry

Andrew Goff / Friday, Dec. 8 @ 12:45 p.m. / News

In response to this morning’s announcement that the body of 22-year-old Erin Henry has been found, Humboldt State University released a brief statement in which they mourn Henry’s loss while informing other students that there are counseling options available to them. Read the message from HSU below:

Today we learned of the loss of Humboldt State student Erin Henry. We want to express our deepest sympathies to her family, friends, colleagues, and the faculty and staff who knew her. We ask you to keep her loved ones in your thoughts and comfort each other during this time.

Students can contact Counseling & Psychological Services at 707.826.3236. The Dean of Students Office can also be reached at 707.826.3504. Staff or faculty seeking additional support may utilize the Employee Assistance Program at 707.443.7358.

PREVIOUSLY: 



(UPDATED) Missing HSU Student Erin Henry Likely Fell to Her Death, Arcata Police Chief Says

Ryan Burns / Friday, Dec. 8 @ 11:33 a.m. / Emergencies

Henry’s body was found at the base of Elephant Rock | Photo: Andrew Goff

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said 22-year-old Erin Henry’s death appears to have been caused by a fall from Elephant Rock, and there’s reason to believe she committed suicide.

Officials have done a preliminary examination of her body, and the injuries are consistent with a fall, Chapman said. He also said there were at least three witnesses who saw Henry alone near the location where her body was ultimately found.

During the investigation into Henry’s disappearance, officers learned that she’d been having suicidal thoughts. “Evidence uncovered in the investigation early on pointed to this being the likely outcome,” Chapman said.

Henry’s family has been informed of all the above, Chapman said.

At the bottom of this post we’ve added a video showing the location where Henry’s body was recovered.

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UPDATE, 12:40 p.m.HSU Statement on the Loss of Student Erin Henry

# # #

UPDATE, 12:05 p.m.: Press release from Arcata Police Department:

On the morning of 12/8/2017, the Arcata Police Department was contacted by the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) and informed a maintenance worker had located a knee scooter along HWY 101 south of Westhaven.

Henry | File photo

Officers responded to the location and conducted a search of the area. During the search, 22-year-old Erin Henry, reported missing to the APD on 11/30/2017, was discovered deceased a short distance east of HWY 101.

With the assistance of the Humboldt County Sheriff/Coroner, Ms. Henry’s body was recovered.

The preliminary investigation revealed no sign of foul play.

The APD would like to thank the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, CalTrans, Humboldt State University, HSU Theater Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, Humboldt Transit Authority, Crescent City Police Department, AT&T, the Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, California State Parks and the numerous volunteers that assisted with search efforts. 

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Original Post: 

The Arcata Police Department this morning was called to respond to the base of Elephant Rock, on the east side of Hwy. 101 just south of the Westhaven Drive exit, where officers found a woman’s body.

Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said he could not yet identify the body, though he said it showed no initial signs of being a suspicious death.

The Humboldt County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office was called to assist APD with a death investigation around 9:13 a.m., according to Public Information Specialist Samantha Karges, who confirmed that the body was female.

We’ll update this post as soon as more information becomes available.



Two Arrested in Eureka at Suspected Drug Home

Andrew Goff / Friday, Dec. 8 @ 9:09 a.m. / Crime

PREVIOUS JUDSON STIGLICH:

Humboldt County Drug Task Force press release:

On December 7, 2017 at approximately 1:00 P.M. Special Agents with the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, with assistance from Deputies with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at a residence located in the 2000 block of Holly Street in Eureka.

 

Once on scene Special Agents and Deputies located the subject of their investigation, 35 year old Judson Stiglich and his girlfriend, 30 year old Amanda Brown.

With the assistance of a Sheriff’s Office narcotics detection K-9, Special Agents located approximately ½ pound of suspected methamphetamine, 47 strips of Suboxone and approximately 20 Hydrocodone pills. In addition they found a loaded .357 revolver, several working digital scales, packaging materials and other items associated with the sales of narcotics. $2,400.00 in U.S. currency was located and seized as it is believed to be proceeds from the illegal sales of narcotics and controlled substances.

 

Stiglich and Brown were arrested for maintaining a residence for the purposes of distributing a controlled substance, possession of a narcotic, possession of a narcotic for sale, possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance for sale, possession of a firearm while in possession of a controlled substance, felon in possession of a firearm and felon in possession of ammunition. Both were transported to the Correctional Facility where they were booked and housed.

Anyone with information related to this investigation or other narcotics related crimes are encouraged to call the Humboldt County Drug Task Force at 707-444- 8095 or the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at 707-268- 2539.



(VIDEO) Butane Canisters Piling Up? It’s Time to Stop Dumping Them Around Humboldt. Get Them Safely Punctured and Recycled!

Sierra Jenkins / Friday, Dec. 8 @ 7:30 a.m. / LoCO Video Reports

Click video to play. Problems on iPhone? Turn your phone sideways.

Humboldt County is rich in nature. with stunning landscapes. While most people try to take care of it, others think the great outdoors is their personal trash can.

Recently, a bunch of garbage was dumped right off the road by a waterway near King Salmon and what was it? Trash bags full of butane canisters!

The canisters are known for being used to illicitly make cannabis concentrate. Over the past few years they have acquired a bad rap, as they were continually being found at the scenes of hash labs explosions. And they were being illegally dumped all over Humboldt.

Roughly one year ago, the Eureka City Council took action and set regulations on the sale, purchase and possession of the butane canisters, and a few months later so did the Arcata City Council.

So after all the controversy surrounding these canisters last year, are they still an issue, or have the regulations helped? Was the King Salmon dumping just an isolated incident?

In this LoCO Video Report we speak with Humboldt Bay Fire, the county’s Environmental Health Division and Humboldt Waste Management Authority to find out. Plus we learn why so many of them are dumped and how they can actually be properly disposed of at a very low cost!

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     RELATED VIDEO REPORTS:



Anxiety Runs High as Marijuana Legalization Puts Humboldt County’s Economy at a Crossroads

Ryan Burns / Friday, Dec. 8 @ 7 a.m. / Economy , Marijuana and/or Cannabis

File photo of an illegal grow. | Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

California is on the verge of launching the world’s largest legal marijuana market, and yet the weed industry here in Humboldt County, internationally renowned for dank buds, finds itself in decline — at least in terms of profits.

Tales of dwindling returns this year are rampant. Kevin Jodrey, a longtime cultivator and owner of Garberville’s Wonderland Nursery, said local growers are selling pounds for “anywhere between $500 and $700.” In a good market, a pound of high-quality outdoor-grown cannabis might still sell for $900, he said, but even that’s a dramatic decline from a year ago, when pounds were going for closer to $2,000. And prior to the 2008 financial collapse local growers were commanding $4,000 per pound, Jodrey said.

Growers who are working to join the legal and regulated marketplace are feeling the pinch especially hard. “If you’re a craft farmer in Humboldt County, like myself, you’re struggling because the market is driven by volume right now,” said Sunshine Johnston, who’s operating a 4,000-square-foot grow near Redcrest and has a permit application pending with the county to increase her farm to 10,000 square feet.

As of this week, the county has approved just 99 permits, 86 of which are for cultivation. (The other 13 are for manufacturing, distribution, or a dispensary.) That leaves more than 1,700 permits awaiting approval, but even that number represents just a fraction of the estimated 15,000 grow operations in Humboldt County alone.

The swollen ranks of black market operators across the state have been flooding the market with product, rushing to capitalize before the regulatory landscape changes on them. Once legalization hits, dispensaries will no longer be allowed to get their supply from people with secret grows in their garages and backyards. They’ll have to buy weed that’s been tested, certified and tracked from seed to sale.

For every grower unable or unwilling to go legit, with all the red tape and fees that entails, this year has been the last hurrah, in some ways. (Interstate sales and distribution still account for the majority of black market profits, by all accounts.)

“Cannabis 2017 is cannabis on steroids,” said Terra Carver, executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance, a nonprofit representing 162 local weed businesses. “Anybody and everybody is growing as much as possible across the state with no regulations, no testing,” no government-imposed bottlenecks to hold back “that tidal wave of product,” she said.

“That’s a problem,” Johnston said. “Everyone’s driving the price down. It just sucks.”

Jodrey agrees that this transition period has been painful and confusing for many local growers. “People are basically just trying to survive,” he said. “I don’t think anybody understands what’s about to happen.”

One result of the over-supply of weed has been a lot less cash flowing into the local economy. This trend impacts even those businesses with no direct connections to the industry.

Shelley Nilsen, owner of Express Employment Professionals and chair of the Greater Eureka Chamber of Commerce, told the Outpost via email, “I have heard from many local retail businesses that they are down this year, many of them significantly down. People just aren’t dropping cash like they have in years past.”

Jodrey said he’s been approached by “county leaders and powerful businessmen in normal business [who] realize they’re about to lose all the disposable income in the county. … Cultivators are the backbone of the Humboldt County economy,” he said. “Who buys at grocery stores? Who eats at restaurants? I’m nervous watching all these people I know start to go bankrupt.”

So is this the beginning of another economic collapse in Humboldt County, with the end of the Green Rush echoing the previous collapse of Humboldt’s timber and fishing industries? Or does this lean year merely reflect a painful but ultimately fruitful transition from an illicit criminal black market to a well-regulated agricultural industry, one that could offer a more stable foundation for our economic future?

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For growers like Johnston, the regulations feel more like a burden than an opportunity so far. 

“In the short term I’m very worried because farmers have already spent all their savings just to become compliant,” she said. “Attorneys and consultants ripped us off. People don’t have savings going into state licensing.”

County-issued labels for the track-and-trace program. | File photo by Andrew Goff.

Johnston also said local growers are worried about the expense of the county’s track and trace program, which she said “will jack our cash flow.”

She feels the county didn’t adequately consider the total costs for growers to come into compliance with multiple agencies, and she argued that the county’s taxation system should have been based on yield rather than square footage of cultivation area. The current system puts “craft farmers” at a disadvantage, instead benefitting high-yield growers, she said.

That’s the same criticism leveled against state lawmakers’ recent decision to eliminate a proposed one-acre cap on growing operations. The cap was nowhere to be found in emergency regulations released by the California Department of Food and Agriculture last month. Unless it’s overturned, this omission would effectively allow grows of unlimited size in some parts of the state.

The decision to eliminate the one-acre cap, which followed intense lobbying from industry insiders, runs counter to both Prop. 64’s pitch to voters and the recommendations in a 2015 report from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy, which warned against “a market dominated by large corporations that could exert increasing influence on the commercial and political process.” 

Nathan Whittington, who operates the Ladybug Herbal Sanctuary Cooperative and has a 2,500-square-foot grow near Ferndale, said that he and other members of both the Humboldt County Growers Alliance and the California Growers Alliance urged state lawmakers to keep the cap. “We’re still working with the state on that issue,” he said. “There’s a big difference between being mass produced, like the Budweiser model, and the smaller microbrew model.”

(As industry website Leafly notes, however, even that cap might not prevent big corporate interests from dominating the industry since they could conceivably stockpile a collection of once-acre permits.)

But Whittington is more optimistic than some of his industry cohorts. “We’re leading the state right now,” he said, referring to Humboldt County. “We were the first ones to have an ordinance, the first ones to have a regulatory system.”

He and his business partners are holding onto their fall harvest so they have product ready for the statewide marketplace in the new year, and he said much of the work local growers did to come into compliance with county rules will translate easily to the state system.

Growers in other counties will have a more difficult time, he predicted. Most local governments don’t have a regulatory system up and running yet, and some have chosen to ban cannabis cultivation altogether. “This will give us a chance to demonstrate that our products are sustainable, and we can get a piece of the market share,” Whittington said. “I think we’re in a good position to lead the charge for the state.”

He did acknowledge that there’s a lot more to think about and navigate in the world of legal weed. “As an owner of a small family business, I’m having to take on many roles in relation to compliance — making sure we’re compliant with the Ag Department’s pest management concerns, doing the bookkeeping, making sure we’re in line with the state rules.” 

Johnston agreed that it’s critical to stay on top of such things. “If you’re a farmer and you’re not working on your business, you’re getting behind,” she said. “There are so many more costs now.”

Jodrey, meanwhile, said local growers still have a lot to learn. He spoke to the Outpost from a cannabis business convention in Hawaii. It’s the kind of event he’s been attending for years now, meeting with investors across the country in hopes of getting a leg up during the early days of the legal marketplace. That’s not something many other locals have been doing, he said.

“The problem is, Humboldt County farmers are usually quiet, private people. They’re not really suited to do that,” he said. “Our ignorance is a real detriment right now.”

Unlike Whittington, Jodrey sees our region in a much more precarious place economically. Humboldt County has the ability to create a thriving legal industry, he said, “but we need a system for easier permitting access. We need to simplify the process. Otherwise we’ll lose out to industrial grow operations in the high desert and down in Southern California. … The county has to take a look and understand that unlike other places in the U.S. we are completely cannabis dependent.”

Nilsen disagreed, saying there’s more to the local economy than cannabis, though she admits that it plays a big role — probably too big. Humboldt County needs to diversify, she said. 

“If all we are good for is marijuana (or any other single industry), then we are not thinking big enough as a community,” Nilsen said. “We need to pursue other type of manufacturing as well as [information technology], and we need to make sure our infrastructure, such as our transportation system, is capable of supporting a variety of industries.”

There are plenty of jobs available in the county, especially for skilled tradesmen in the construction industry, including plumbers, roofers and electricians, Nilsen said. She also noted that the health care field is “wide open,” with entry-level jobs as medical assistants and billers as well as more advanced positions such as RNs, respiratory techs, X-ray techs, and practice managers.

“Really, any type of work that requires trade school and on-the-job learning is in high demand and we are seeing wages push up, especially as you gain that experience,” Nilsen said.

As for the legal cannabis industry, she and others noted that it’s still early days. “Major legislative changes take years – even a decade or more – to really solidify and be fully implemented,” Nilsen said. “I think this will be the case with  marijuana. There are so many issues to work out in terms of how to govern it, we haven’t even identified them all yet. … We can expect a lot of uncertainty around it for years to come.”

Carver said she likes Senator Mike McGuire’s analogy: we’re building a plane while flying it. “I think we’ll start seeing things become more normal in 2019 or 2020,” she said, noting that supply chain problems, like a statewide shortage of retail outlets and testing labs, will take some time to get worked out.

And she agreed with Nilsen that the community needs to look beyond marijuana.

“It’s really important that Humboldt County start looking at a diversified model to be able to supplement the economy that it has now,” she said. Specifically she suggested focusing more on tourism, with a unified Humboldt brand and marketing campaign. “We have so much to offer up here that isn’t cannabis but that can be supported by those who use it,” Carver said.

Calling legalization “one of the biggest opportunities we’ve ever had,” Carver said she’s optimistic about the county’s economic future, as long as people focus on combining our cannabis assets with tourism and other industries. She imagined an ad campaign that convinces a millennial in Los Angeles that “the best road trip in life” is a drive up to Humboldt County, along the Lost Coast, with dinner at Gabriel’s, a photo op at Patrick’s Point, and sure, maybe a stop at a local dispensary or farm.

“If we don’t start engaging in those conversations we will not only feel the loss of money flowing in from illegal [grow operators], we will have lost an opportunity to create something better for the whole community,” Carver said.