I would like to respond to Robert Sutherland's concerns in his recent Guest Commentary (Humboldt Beacon, Oct. 6). I've been aware of Woods' perspective for quite some time now, and I would like to set the record straight about the Humboldt Growers Association (HGA).
As Vice President of the Board of the HGA, I am intimately familiar with the organization's positions and motives. The HGA was founded just over a year ago, around my kitchen table, where a small group of friends concerned about our community got together to talk about the County's Draft Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance.
As many of us can relate to, there was much concern in our community about regulations being potentially written by individuals who might not thoroughly understand the industry. We initially reviewed the first County Draft and offered input and educational material. That initial work created a positive conversation between the County and the HGA. We have continued these positive conversations with the County, and I sincerely feel we are accomplishing great things for our community.
I've known Joey Burger since he was probably 15 years old. I met him when I moved to Humboldt County to become a student at the Heartwood Institute. I can honestly say that I would not work with somebody who I did not trust implicitly. The guy has a heart of gold, he's loyal, and he's like a brother to me. He cares about this community and so do I.
Ordinarily, I would not want to give misinformation this much energy, but I do feel a need to clarify the HGA's position on the following things.
* The 707 Cannabis College recently organized an educational forum with an update of the County Ordinance process, and how to participate. I presented and as a group we reviewed the County's draft line by line. People asked excellent questions and we spent approximately three hours conversing about the status of the Draft Ordinance, its language, and its timeline for possible approval by the Board of Supervisors. This was a very positive event and many voices gave input. Woods, who criticizes this event was not present. I had hoped he would come be part of the conversation.
* The HGA does support Phase 1 of the County's Draft Ordinance. I'd like to clarify first that it's not the HGA's Phase 1 Draft - we've merely been commenting on it. I'd like to point out that the Draft Ordinance does not require an inspection or a permit for the indoor cultivation of medical marijuana for personal use. And yes, the HGA does support a landlord's right to prohibit cultivation on their rental properties if they aren't comfortable with it.
* The HGA is in agreement that all patient records need to be protected and kept private. Because this is a Land Use based Draft Ordinance, it places the job of enforcement in the hands of law enforcement. We are currently in conversation with the County about how to implement a system that insures patient records will be protected and kept private.
I am honestly just plain tired of hearing that the HGA is only into promoting massive grows and making too much money. This is perhaps the most frustrating part of the misinformation that I hear. We are currently working hard to change the current trend in California that mandates dispensaries provide all of their own medicine through a centralized cultivation facility. The very concept of the County not allowing centralized cultivation for its future dispensaries was born out of the HGA. By working hard to create a system of permitted farms and dispensaries that can only obtain and dispense permitted medicine we are supporting the longevity of the small farmer in Humboldt County. We are also working to be sure that Humboldt is NOT legislated away from the medical marijuana table on a statewide basis. We would like to see permitted medical marijuana farmers by next season in Humboldt County. This would be a voluntary compliance program that would allow for permitted outdoor cultivation.
We want what is best for this community - please don't hesitate to contact us; we know you have concerns, and we have concerns too. This is an issue we all need to come together on. The time for divisiveness is over - if there ever was a time. We need to look to our future, and create the best vision we can imagine. Please know we love input and we would love to hear from you.
The HGA can be found at www.humboldtgrowers.org.
Vice President, Humboldt Growers Association