Humboldt County Marijuana Advocates Push for Better Policies


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The enactment of the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act in California has been monumental for the state’s cannabis growers, but questions remain unanswered regarding who will participate in the program and how many growers will still remain outside the law. Needless to say, some activists remain wary after years of suppression within the industry.

“There will continue to be enforcement, even higher layers of enforcement,” said Robert Sutherland of the Humboldt-Mendocino Marijuana Advocacy Project. “The black market will continue to exist as long as the financial incentive remains, and the black market deserves respect because states outside or ours are not going to respect our laws.”

At the North Coast Community Forum on Medical Marijuana held last Friday in Redway, most of the 200 plus participants were in favor of the legal framework to regulate the industry.

But panelist and Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey was somewhat surprised to hear people advocating for a continuation of the status quo.

“This is regulatory. It’s no longer just a criminal issue,” he said. This will be the enforcement of an ordinance, not a law enforcement issue.”

The forum was also attended by government officials from agriculture, fish and wildlife, planning, law enforcement, and water quality.

“This is going to be very difficult for everyone involved, but we are prepared to take that on,” said Steve Lazar, senior planner for Humboldt County. “The industry always has been placed in a very delicate risk-reward, and so has local government. For the first time, we have the ability to move forward with a much greater perspective and much greater ability to make that transition.”

Other rules have already been written, such as the Cannabis Cultivation Waste Discharge Regulatory Program from the water control board.

Sutherland and other marijuana activists want to make sure that Humboldt County growers will be able to capitalize on the industry, even going so far as putting a Humboldt logo on the products produced within the county.

According to North Coast state Senator Mike McGuire, he hopes the same standards used in the production of wine in Napa and Sonoma counties be also used in cannabis growing in Humboldt County.

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