I find it odd and a bit irritating that under a heading of "Stereotypes Wrong," Charles Custer said that Arcata's medical cannabis ordinance was "motivated by a community uprising called ‘Nip It in the Bud,' ... aimed to drive indoor growers out of town." ("Truce," March 17)
My, my, what a simplistic bit of revisionism concocted to suit Mr. Custer's agenda. Community uprising, yes. Aimed to drive indoor growers out of town, no.
You want to grow for your own personal 215-qualified medicinal cannabis needs? Arcata's ordinance doesn't stop you from doing that. As Mr. Burns characterized earlier in his article, agonizing months were spent by community members, Arcata city staff, planning commissioners and medical cannabis dispensaries/collectives and growers to craft a ground-breaking ordinance designed to safeguard access of medical cannabis to qualified 215 patients, while stemming the degradation of Arcata's neighborhoods due to indoor grows rife with faulty jerry-rigged electrical wiring, demolished home interiors and huge crops destined not for 215 patients but for black market profit. Not to mention the guns, LSD, meth and psilocybin mushrooms that have been subsequently found in many busts of these types of indoor grows.
Ask Supervisor Lovelace. He was sometimes at those meetings as he was going door-to-door campaigning for 3rd District supervisor. If I remember correctly, he proffered at the time that one of the major concerns he met time and again at people's doors was the proliferation of indoor grows and the effect on their neighborhood - and this was in the liberal 3rd District. Hopefully, Lovelace hasn't forgotten that. Despite the truce between "growers and government," I think you will still find that many of "the people" still care about and are concerned about what's going on in their neighborhoods.
Supervisor Lovelace is right in saying that Humboldt doesn't have a timber ordinance, but there are timber regulations at the state and federal levels designed to protect the public good. Until Arcatans spoke up, no one was willing to expose the negative underbelly of the sacred cow grazing on pot and attempt some sort of regulation.
As other states open up to medical cannabis, we will find the local industry hard-pressed to hold on to its cash cow. In a nod to Mr. Leonard's concern, perhaps the county should somehow trademark the name "Humboldt" so that it can require that all products using that appellation actually be from this area, much as the European Union gives Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status to champagne. Of course, Humboldt growers will have to cough up the money for the legal funds to defend the PDO, since all local government budgets are in crisis mode - except maybe Arcata, which is willing to make tough decisions when needed.
And before I forget, Mr. Custer, isn't "community uprising" something we celebrate, much like the toppling of dictators like Mubarak or Gaddafi or the local groundswell of help for Haiti or tsunami victims?
Robin Hashem, Arcata
Ryan Burns did an excellent job in "Truce" last week at summing up the status of Humboldt's most important and controversial economic activity. Thank you for giving it the attention it requires. Burns wisely only alluded to a separate, even more complex and long-running controversy, which the county proposes to scramble into its regulation of medical marijuana but no other industry.
It concerns what the Planning Department calls "shaded parcels." These are properties that the county isn't sure are legal. ... Maybe they were improperly conveyed on the hood of a truck 40 years ago - though the conveyance documents themselves are perfectly legal, creating a title history that's insured by title insurance companies and banked on by mortgage bankers - yet the county, and only the county, still may assert that the parcels may be illegal. There are conservatively estimated to be 5,000 such parcels in the county, whose shades of bureaucratic gray may linger 50 years. ...
For more than 20 years groups including the Grand Jury, the League of Women Voters, the Builders Council, and most recently the Code Enforcement Task Force have called for these hazy near-non-entities to be clarified - or just ignored or forgotten about, which works for everyone else in our county's finance, insurance and real estate industries.
Instead, the county proposes that every applicant for an indoor growing permit must "prove" something the county itself won't investigate, to the county's satisfaction, at the property owner's expense. How would they do that? Who knows? All we know for sure is, often they can't, despite yawning expenses and delays.
This is one reason why few rural landowners of sound mind go to the Planning Department for routine services - they run the very real risk of being challenged to prove a negative of the county's invention before they can, say, apply for a building permit.
One may wonder what any of this has to do with regulating the economic base of our county. What indeed? It's an example of what must be changed in the county's proposed medical marijuana ordinance. There are other examples. As Burns made clear, open discussion will be critical for our county's economic evolution to succeed. Thanks again for sun-lighting the challenges to our biggest industry.
Charley Custer, Redway