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Growing Worries: Humboldt Cannabis Farmers Divided on Proposition 64

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Welcome to Humboldt Homegrown, a new cannabis column from the heart of the Emerald Triangle by veteran local reporter Kym Kemp.

Even after one of the rainiest Octobers on record drenched the small cannabis farms of the Emerald Triangle, many of the growers in the region fear the results of California’s Proposition 64 even more than they fear the effects of the downpour on their buds. While farmers begin the cure of this year’s harvest and snip away leaves at trimming tables, the discussion inevitably moves to whether this proposition is the right way to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Growers are almost as bitterly split about Prop. 64 as the country is on the vote for president. Families quarrel and friendships become strained as the small farmers choose whether to vote yes or no.

Two well-known marijuana farmer trade groups that began in the Emerald Triangle, the California Growers Association (CGA) and the Humboldt Sun Growers Guild (HSGG), both declined to take a public stance either for or against Proposition 64. The CGA said that its members were split sharply in a poll taken not long ago: 31 percent for, 31 percent against and the rest undecided.

The Humboldt Sun Growers group has a similar problem, according to Steve Dillon, executive manager of the Guild.

“Our farmers are close to evenly divided,” he said. “Because the community is split so much, we can’t say that we are speaking for our farmers as a whole.”

An overhead view of Mikal Jakubal's cannabis nursery.

An overhead view of Mikal Jakubal’s cannabis nursery.

A small, unscientific survey of about 400 was more unevenly divided: 46.21 percent said yes on Proposition 64 and 53.79 percent said no. (It is important to note that it is impossible to know how many of those who voted were growers and how many were not growers.)

Mikal Jakubal examining marijuana plants to determine their sex.

Mikal Jakubal examining marijuana plants to determine their sex.

Those for the proposition mainly cite freedom from fear of being arrested for themselves and especially for minority youth who they say are disproportionately affected by the current laws. Those against the proposition mainly worry about corporations controlling the previously unfettered small farms and the heritage cannabis that is grown there.

“Look what corporations did to tobacco,” argued one commenter. “What is [legalized] weed going to look like in 50 years?”

However, growers also worry about the backlash from their consumers if they are seen as trying to crush something popular to them. Mikal Jakubal, a cannabis nursery owner and documentary maker who lives in Humboldt County, argues that growers are such a small percentage of the voters that they can’t really affect the outcome of the attempt to legalize recreational marijuana use in California. But he believes, “[I]f you’re a grower, grower’s organization or pot-related business, you should openly promote a yes vote on 64.”

Jakubal says that the perception that growers are against legalization is harmful to their image.

“When weed growers, organizations and businesses oppose legalization for whatever reason, we look like spoiled, entitled, greedy brats trying to protect our lucrative, free-for-all, barely-regulated, mostly tax-free industry,” he said.

Dillon, executive manager of the Guild mostly agrees.

“We feel that Prop. 64 is going to pass [and] we are going to have to adapt to legislation no matter what,” he added.

Dillon said his guild “was formed with the specific purpose of helping growers adapt to new regulations” and, he said, “We’ll help them adapt to Prop. 64.”

You can keep up with all of HIGH TIMES’ marijuana news right here.

For complete Election 2016 coverage, click here.

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