WEED FEED / John Ross Ferrara / Sunday, July 23, 2017 @ 8:30 a.m.

Weed Feed: Sheriff’s Office Warns of Illegal Grow Crackdowns, Arcata Plans Cannabis 'Hullabaloo'



 Diagram for the proposed ‘Hulabaloo’ in the Arcata Ball Park | City of Arcata.

As California’s cannabis industry inches ever closer to January, Humboldt finds itself at a cultural crossroads. While thousands of local growers are hustling to comply with state regulations, thousands more are still choosing to take their chances and grow off the grid.

According to a letter put out by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, only about one-fifth of all local growers are making efforts to go legit. 

“As the county permit process has shown, the motivation to become compliant with the law is limited with the cultivators,” the letter reads. “Out of the 12,000+ documented grow sites in the county, only 2,300+ permit applications were filed with the Planning Department.”

File photo from 2014 bust near Blocksburg | Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

Naturally, these numbers aren’t sitting well with the HCSO. And growers wouldn’t be stupid to see a bulk of this letter as a carefully worded threat. On July 13, the Trinity Sheriff’s Office made one of the largest grow busts in recent memory, destroying 58,700 illegal plants discovered in the Trinity National Forest. And the HCSO seems to be gearing up for a few busts of its own.

“The Sheriff’s Office is firmly committed to investigate and enforce ALL of the California marijuana laws and hold the violators accountable,” Thursday’s letter states. “If a Marijuana cultivation site does not have a permit application in process and the cultivator fails to have the above listed documentation, enforcement action will be taken. Per the policy of the Sheriff’s Office all the marijuana will be removed onsite and the suspects will be arrested.”

Meanwhile, just one day before the HCSO put illegal growers on notice, the Arcata City Council mulled over the possibility of holding a cannabis parade and event in celebration of Humboldt’s legal marijuana production.

The “Yes We Cann! Parade & Hullabaloo,” is an event proposed and funded by local cannabis consulting company Humboldt Green.

Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer.

If approved, the event will begin with a parade starting at Humboldt State University’s parking lot at 14th and Union Streets. From there, event organizers are offering up $5,000 to host a celebration in the Arcata Ball Park, which would feature live music, food trucks, beer and wine sales, and a gated-off 215-friendly “medicinal market.”

“The Yes We Cann Parade is a celebration of our industry’s coming of age and a shift in our culture stepping out of the shade and into the light,” Humboldt Green’s Facebook event reads. “We welcome you to be a part of this new tradition and show your support for creating a sustainable, inclusive and positive cannabis community.”

Although the company has gone into full promotion mode, sharing fliers online and giving news interviews, the event is still awaiting approval from Arcata City Manager Karen Diemer.

 

Event organizer Stephen Gieder addressed the company’s eager promotion at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

“When you do events you have to take risks sometimes, and there’s nothing on our advertisement that says it’s been passed by the city,” Gieder said. “The risk was based upon the idea that we’ve done these events before. There’s thousands of these events that happen every year in the United States. This isn’t something new to Humboldt County, it’s not something new to the community. Our events have always been done properly and we’ve never been shut down.”

While the event’s approval seems likely based on the discussion among council members last week, other local cannabis events have recently been kiboshed for violating county ordinances.

A medical marijuana farmer’s market that’s been held in Redway since March of last year was shut down earlier this month by the Humboldt County Planning Department. The Times-Standard reports that a cease and desist letter was issued on the grounds that the “Casual Crop Exchange” violated the county’s cannabis dispensary ordinance due to illegal cannabis sales.

Event organizer Stephen Gieder.

The City of Arcata’s biggest concern with hosting the “Yes We Cann! Parade & Hullabaloo,” is whether or not it violates any current laws. The city’s final decision lies with City Manager Diemer and City Attorney Nancy Diamond.

If approved, smoking of any kind would be banned at the event, as it would take place on city property. Event holders and the city have also agreed that no edibles will be sold within the 215 market. So if you want to enjoy the cannabis celebration properly, you’ll have to toke up before entering the ball park.

The proposed hullabaloo is scheduled for August 12, between 2 and 10 p.m. at the Arcata Ball Park. The city is expected to make its final decision in the coming days.

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The Weed Feed is a weekly column written by John Ross Ferrara.

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