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Humboldt County Measure A

The way the hysterically freaking-out opponents of Humboldt County’s Measure A describe it, this is a big moment, and a turning point for the county, but maybe it’s just a “nothing burger,” and in two to five years we won’t even remember it, whether it passes or not, and it won’t matter to anyone? There’s a lot of opinions and spin but why hasn’t anyone put together an unbiased fact sheet listing the pros and cons of this ballet measure? (Probably because the only ones who want to spend that kind of time and energy are motivated by self-interest, ie money, the rest of us think weed is pretty much over, and won’t waste our time studying the issue.)

Why should I vote for Measure A?

Why should I vote against Measure A?

(I’d like to see the organizations on each side put out a pro/con fact sheet, and I’d vote for whomever submits an honest appraisal, even if they list just one good point for the other side. Otherwise they’re just a bunch of lying politicians, business as usual, take no prisoners, and won’t give an inch.)

How did we get here?

When county government got into the drug-dealing business by setting up legal marijuana operations, it looked like they based their program on the “greenrush model”: huge greenhouses, large plantations of row crops, and light deprivation. (Instead of creating a system which would encourage hippies, rednecks, hip-necks, and all the other small-scale farmers to continue to make a living, as they had for decades, allowing fifty to a hundred legal plants, for example. But alas, it was a good run...)  

The system created was so complicated and expensive that many, if not most, of the permitted went under, and Supervisor Estelle Fennell was blamed as part of the problem, fairly or unfairly. We had to send her home with her million dollars from eight years on the job, as a reliable vote for the board’s conservative coalition, never to be heard from again. (Now the Second District has Michell Bushnell running for re-election and it’s probably time to send her home, with her half a million bucks, and let someone else have a shot at the job. Bushnell, famously, doesn’t even vote on cannabis issues.)

The Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission, most of which have come out against Measure A, also created and implemented the satellite spy program invading the privacy of the citizens of Humboldt in order to wipe out small outlaw growers. This lead to millions in unaccountable abatement fines, as well as stressing out many non-growing folks misidentified in erroneous satellite images, in the county’s revenge quest to wipe out all the small farmers who were too smart to, or couldn’t afford to, sign up for the new legal system. (To be fair, John Ford did put out the greenrush fire, albeit leaving behind many acres of abandoned hoop houses moldering on the hillsides.)

I get the general sense that the goal of Measure A is to decrease opportunities to grow huge amounts of weed in the hills of Humboldt County, whereas those against it want to increase production, using the greenrush model of more and bigger. (Does it come down to Money vs Nature?)

It’s an interesting special interest measure because Humboldt voters will decide whether to support either the less-than-one percent who are legally growing, or the other less-than-one percent who have to put up with legal grows on their roads, or near their houses, which is negatively impacting their bucolic rural lifestyles. The growers just want to grow more, while the NIMBYS object to the industrialization of their country roads, including having to listen to fans and generators, blighted view sheds full of hoop houses, with grow lights shining at night, increased water consumption and traffic, and other factors which make up these “mega-farms.” 

(Numbers are a matter of perception, as 10,000 square feet is now considered a small grow by some, or many, but think about it: that’s a ten by a hundred foot greenhouse, multiplied by ten. Looks like “greenrush revisited,” to me, but this time with the county’s seal of approval, and raking their cut off the top, if they can still get any cash in this depressed climate.)

How do you decide how to vote, and who is winning? Normally you count the signs, which currently show a lot of “No on A” down here in Southern Humboldt, but I don’t know what’s on the lawns (and business windows?) in Northern Humboldt.

If you think that 10,000 square feet of greenhouse is not enough for you then you’ll probably be voting against Measure A.

If you think 10,000 square feet is already too much, then you might be voting yes.

(Ten or more giant greenhouses in a row sounds shocking to me, though a 10,000 square foot area of budding outdoor plants would look beautiful, I’d like to see that.)

Really? We’ve come to this? Ten huge greenhouses aren’t enough? If that’s true then maybe the regulated industry should just fade away: people can continue to grow their own, and maybe try some small-scale outlaw production again some day if the price comes back, but it’s heading in the opposite direction, the last out-of-state connections fizzling out.)

the good old days done and gone

yet here’s these fools hangin’ on…

In conclusion, I didn’t like the greenrush, the county set up a pricy and complex system based on the greenrush model, and the Measure A group came in to try to reduce the amount and size of pot plantations by changing all the rules, ie, throwing a monkey wrench into the works. The last of the compliant growers are finally getting used to the county’s and state’s rules and want those to continue, while most people don’t care one way or another. Meanwhile the establishment, the Board of Supervisors and the Planning Commission, is against it, as they don’t like the idea of a citizens’ ballet measure taking their power away.

Can a supporter of Measure A tell the undecided, with facts not opinions, why they should vote for this, and can someone opposed say why an undecided should vote no? (Talking about what might happen in the future is bullshit, as no one knows what’s going to happen, right?)

The process of writing this didn’t change my mind, I’m still not going to vote because to be fully informed I’d have to read the ballot measure, interview people on both sides, and learn enough to intelligently cast a vote. (Let the principals fight it out.)


  1. Paul Modic February 27, 2024

    Local Weed-Growing History and Election Day Predictions
    Today Measure A will be decided, by tonight we’ll get the first report of the mail-in ballots from the county, which usually reflected the final outcome.
    How did we go from hippies sucking on the Green Nipple in the Roaring Eighties to the scene today with large legal pot plantations, surviving only by breaking the rules and selling weed on the black market, locally and out-of-state?
    Starting at $1000 a pound in 1975 the price rose to $5000 by the early nineties, then after the passage of Proposition 215 (legal for medical use) in 1996 the price steadily dripped down as the hills filled with the greenrushers, operating multiple light dep greenhouses, and everyone else had to grow more to make a still-good living. When it dipped down to $1500 a pound the Green Nipple was replaced by the Green Monkey, were you riding it or was it riding you? The challenge was juggling trimmers, weather, mold, powdery mildew, ripoffs, drying sheds, and the hardest part of the whole operation: trying to sell it. (Cops and helicopters had disappeared from the list of stresses by then.)
    When the price went below $1000 a pound, the price which perked up the ears of the subsisting homesteading hippies back in ‘75, a lot of people around here stopped growing. Then Proposition 64 passed overwhelmingly in 2016, bringing statewide legalization of marijuana for recreational use and the price went to $500 and lower. None but the brave or naive decided to wade into the legal system, make a deal with the devil, ie, the Humboldt County Planning Department and Board of Supervisors, and attempt to keep growing, following often changing and expensive rules and regulations.
    I ran into one of them, from Salmon Creek, at the bank a couple years in and he said, “Estelle told me it would cost $20,000 to go legal, now I’ve got $100,000 into it, it’s a big hassle, but I’m in too deep to stop, gotta keep trying to finish the paperwork.”
    I talked to another guy from Ettersburg around the same time and he was complaining that it had already cost him a few hundred thousand dollars to “come into compliance,” he was still far from getting his license, and if he could do it all over, he wouldn’t. (He used to be a very handsome man but was spotted the other day looking old and haggard, still struggling with his large weed farm, and probably voting No on A.)
    When another person, my former clone dealer from Sprowel Creek, had told me with a big smile that he was going legal I said, “Really? Why? You know what you’re getting into?” He had a beautiful piece of land, including a spring which started and stopped on his forty acres, one of the state requirements for licensing. CDFW (California Department of Fish and Wildlife) examined his land and discovered damage from logging decades before he bought it back in the seventies. The expensive remediation costs were more than the spectacular piece of land was worth, and he dumped the whole thing at a loss.
    Measure A
    If you want to expand cannabis growing: vote No on A.
    If you want to limit cannabis expansion: vote Yes on A
    Measure A Prediction:
    Second District Supervisorial Prediction
    Bushnell 49.2%
    McClendon 48.8%
    Roberts 2%
    On to a runoff in November.
    (I have no good idea, either Bushnell or McClendon could win it outright today. I’m just guessing, and don’t even have a good hunch or an intuitive feel for it. However, if I get it correct then I’m a political genius, no doubt.)

  2. Paul Modic February 27, 2024

    Electoral Tribalism
    It’s election season, when people resort to “tribalism” while voting, meaning voting for who your friends are voting for.
    Why do you feel compelled to do and say things acceptable to your tribe? Maybe if you go outside of it they won’t like you anymore, you won’t get invited to the parties, you’ll be a social outcast, and end up alone and lonely? Isn’t it more fun to think for yourself and have an original thought, instead of keeping your alleged tribe happy with you?
    (Politics is tribal, elections are tribal, maybe families and relationships are tribal, ie, do you have to have the same opinion as your mate/partner? Are there “deal-breakers” in those personal situations?)
    The “Yes on Measure A” supporters might be tribal (especially if they win) whereas the “No on Measure A” campaign seems very tribal: The struggling growers who have been jumping through their hoop houses, getting more emotionally and economically stressed every year (unless they have the “golden ticket,” a sweet-ass, out-of-state connection, or a sister who owns a dispensary), while trying to navigate the expensive rules and regulations the county set up. Then here come the Yes on A people recruiting voters for their ballot measure which, if passed, would limit the number of permits for new plantations, as well as limit the expansion of existing legal farms to 10,000 square feet of growing space, among other industry-altering details.
    The farmers feel threatened by A, and even though they are a tiny minority, less than one percent of the county populace, as are the Yes on A proponents, the organizers of anti-A are trying to project it as a tribal issue, with their signs saying “Bad For Humboldt,” attempting to get voters to identify with the defensive farmers, who feel under attack.
    I think Bad For Humboldt, the campaign slogan, means “Join Our Tribe,” or “You Are In Our Tribe Already.” It could be bad for the legal farms, they’re used to the county’s rules by now, then here comes this citizens’ initiative trying to throw a monkey wrench into the works. (Maybe Bad for Humboldt means: “If you limit expansion then there will be less tax money for the county.” How much does the county make on each new permit?)
    As one of the 99% of non-growers who will decide this issue, if you believe the slogan that it’s Bad For Humboldt, vote No, and tell your friends to also, then you get honorary membership in the tribe. There are no benefits, each side just wants your vote. They won’t do anything in exchange, like invite you to dinner, after election day you’ll no longer be wooed, and your honorary membership will mean nothing.
    What else is Bad For Humboldt? If you’re dissatisfied with your life is that Bad For Humboldt, or is it just bad for you? I guess you could write a ballot measure about that, it’s pretty easy: submit it with $250, get it approved by county counsel, and start gathering signatures.
    (I gotta hand it to the Yes on A folks, they really did it, made their ballot measure a reality. It took time, vision, and energy and if they win, the drama will be ramped up even more fiercely by the angry tribe. If they lose they might actually be relieved, knowing they did all they could to further their beliefs, though it’s more fun and exciting to win…)

  3. Paul Modic February 27, 2024

    Searching For Jeana McClendon
    It’s election season and since we already know about Michelle Bushnell, the Humboldt county Second District incumbent, let’s try to find out about Jeana McClendon, the challenger. As I was driving through Fortuna, noticing just Michelle’s signs, I finally saw a big one for Jeana at George’s glass, and stopped in to get some info. I was told that Jeana does have 500 signs out there and she and her husband recently sold their three laundromats, though they still have their Eureka bar called “Ernie’s” and a coffeeshop in Ferndale. (The very friendly and helpful person in the office gave me the website where you can look up donors to all the local campaigns, and mentioned that Dazey’s had donated $20,000 to the No on A campaign.)
    I told her I’d like to interview Jeana about the flyer she sent out to all the voters directly attacking Michelle for her conduct, (something which seemed unprecedented in our local yokel area), which had created a minor uproar with some of Michelle’s supporters in SoHum. Jeana wasn’t there so I went off in search of Ernie’s, identified as a “dive bar” by a couple random people from whom I asked directions.
    I found Ernie’s in downtown Eureka just off 7th street, went inside and was surprised to find it was a cozy place, clean and tiny, with about eight or nine friendly regulars, all friends, sipping their usual afternoon drinks. I told the feisty bartender, a senior citizen like all the mutual friends there, that I was checking out the bar as research for this story, and asked her what the definition of a dive bar was.
    “He would know,” she said, motioning me to a man sitting nearby who was from Montana.
    “There’s a door in the front, another in the back, and no food,” Montana said. We talked for a few more minutes and a woman called from the end of the bar, “Have a martini!”
    I gave the bartender a handout of my SSI info and asked her to pass it along to any struggling senior she might know. She paused then said, “Honey, all of them are struggling,” and pointed out one of her customers was ninety-two.
    “This is a cool place, not at all what I thought a dive bar would be, maybe I’ll have my birthday party here this summer,” I said.
    After more town business I stopped back at Jeana headquarters in Fortuna, gave the helpful woman my credentials: biz card, SSI story, and the next column going into The Independent next week, and told her how much I liked Ernie’s. “That’s a cool place, just going in there might get my vote,” I half-joked.
    She told me a little more of Jeana’s family history, I got directions to the coffeeshop, backtracked across the river to the quaint city of Ferndale, couldn’t find it, and went into a Mexican restaurant to ask for directions. A pretty friendly woman I saw in the window eating her meal, with a glass of white wine, gave me a big smile and I sat with her for most of an hour talking about, among other things, my quest for Jeana. She pointed out the coffeeshop and agreed to put one of my large SSI Info envelopes, containing ten copies of the handout, on the bulletin board in Petrolia. (I told her I had written a satirical essay about Rex Bohn’s antics, her Supervisor, but she said she wouldn’t want to be caught putting that on the bulletin board because “everyone loves Rex.”)
    She drove off to the mountains, I sat on a bench eating the rest of my sandwich, and talked to a couple locals, one of whom said he thought Jeana had sold the coffeeshop. The cooperative gallery he was a part of had to move to make way for the coffeeshop, but their new place was even better. He came up from Orange County twenty years ago to escape the traffic.
    “I’m eighty-two,” he said. “In this town we stay out of politics.”
    “So you gonna vote for the good ol’ boy?” I said, meaning Rex, of course.
    “Probably,” he said, with a slight smile…

  4. Paul Modic Post author | February 27, 2024

    People Are Leaving Southern Humboldt and
    Election Roundup
    Many people have left, are leaving, or getting regular jobs around here, as the cannabis industry is disappearing, reality has settled in, and the highway or a weekly paycheck beckons. A couple people I know have become mailmen, another a gardener, another manages a trailer court, someone else just decamped to Baltimore, another is waitressing in Los Angeles, another friend moved to Maine, one to Huntsville, Alabama, and others are scattering around the country.
    I was surprised and thought it was a joke when I ran into a friend at the DSS office and he told me he was a cop, well, a deputy sheriff. He’s fifty, still looks pretty vital, but wow, it’s come to this, hill kid joining The Man?
    “I figured it out with Honsal,” he said. “Right now I’m working at the jail and making great overtime, they’re understaffed. In a year or so I’ll be resident deputy down here, I’ll save my land, and retire in fifteen years.” (Okay good, a man with a plan, and who was that who rolled up in a brand new pickup the other day?)
    Today I received this message:
    “So why Huntsville? I wanted to go live a more urban life. My life as an off grid homesteader and permitted cannabis farmer was becoming unsustainable for me. I was alone, kids grown and gone, mom left for senior housing and I could no longer afford help on the farm. I was struggling with loneliness and impending old age.
    I wanted to be somewhere where I could drive 10 minutes and go dancing or eat at a different restaurant, meet different people, have better job opportunities and maybe buy a house with a yard. The entire pacific northwest is unaffordable, so is the east coast, the middle of the country is unendurable and the north is too cold.
    That left the south. Huntsville is a blue city surrounded by red. It’s a vibrant thriving city with a low cost of living. Nasa builds their rockets here. There’s good universities and good Healthcare, so I came here and so far, I love it.
    There are a lot of people leaving and that’s a hard thing for Southern Humboldt. I felt torn because I do love my community and I love so many people there. I grew up there, raised my children there, helped others birth their babies etc. I feel as though I was part of something that grew and flourished as I was growing up, crested and then slowly began to die…I will be back to visit.”
    Supervisors and Measure A: Final Statements
    Michelle Bushnell: My dedication, experience, integrity, and passion for positive change are my promises to you. Vote for a brighter future filled with progress and unity.

    Vote Jeana McClendon for Supervisor: The right leader at the right time for the right reasons. Break the cycle, embrace change. It’s time for a fresh perspective and better results.

    Vote for Brian Roberts. A retired business owner. Honesty, fairness, fiscal responsibility and no conflicts of interest while working for you. Brian Roberts is the right choice for District 2.

    No on Measure A: Measure A’s 38 pages rewrites Humboldt’s General Plan to establish unworkable restrictions on small cannabis farms. Learn how Measure
    A hurts farmers, the environment, and public safety at
    (Natalynne DeLapp, Executive Director, Humboldt County Growers Alliance)

    Yes on Measure A: Measure A stops 2500 more grows, lets small grows expand to 10,000 sf, enforces existing regulations, and gives voice to residents, all to protect neighborhoods, fish, watersheds, and the environment.
    (Mark Thurman, Co-sponsor, Measure A)

    Alexei Navalny June 4th 1976—February 16th 2024
    Russian Hero and Leader of Opposition (Murdered by Putin)
    (Comments, questions, complaints:

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