Humboldt County is taking a bold step and offering support to cannabis growers.
Bedeviled by the ever-falling price of cannabis, growers in Humboldt County, California have been offered a lifeline by local officials.
On Monday, the county opened up the application period for “Project Trellis,” a support program to provide a boost to local cannabis growers. The program draws upon the California Cannabis Equity Act, which was signed in to law in 2018 and sought to redress the harmful legacy of pot prohibition by “[ensuring] that persons most harmed by cannabis criminalization and poverty be offered assistance to enter the multibillion dollar cannabis industry as entrepreneurs or as employees with high-quality, well-paying jobs.”
This year, those eligible to participate in Project Trellis can reportedly apply for up to $10,000 “per service,” with more than $2 million overall in available grants through the program.
The deadline to submit applications is September 17.
That grant money is arriving at a critical time for Humboldt County farmers.
Humboldt County Gets Rescued
Natalynne DeLapp, the executive director of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance, told the Times-Standard newspaper that the county’s ““independent cannabis farmers are in crisis.”
“It is great that the county developed Project Trellis…and (has) secured nearly $5 million in funding from the state to support communities most impacted by the War on Drugs in entering the regulated cannabis market, but now it is time to get serious,” she told the newspaper.
“Perhaps 200 of Humboldt County’s 900-plus cultivation operators, who can prove the War on Drugs has negatively impacted them, could receive up to $10,000 in fee waivers for professional services like fee waivers, technical assistance or installing solar or water storage systems. The wholesale price of cannabis has dropped below the cost of production,” DeLapp added.
She continued, “Unless we want an extinction event, which means losing our legacy farmers, it is imperative for the county to maximize funding allocations directly into the hands of our farmers.”
In the formation of Project Trellis, officials in Humboldt County said they “identified those most affected by the criminalization of cannabis in Humboldt County” through interviews and data.
“It was identified that certain populations and neighborhoods, particularly small growers, and those affected by past policies, while participating in the cannabis industry, were negatively impacted,” the program’s website says. “The findings of the Cannabis Equity Assessment were then used to create the Program’s equity eligibility requirements, which are outlined in the Local Equity Program Manual. Additionally the Local Equity Program Manual outlines the services available to those who meet the eligibility requirements. The Program implements the State of California and County of Humboldt’s legislative goals to further equity among those impacted by the criminalization of cannabis.”
The program has three levels of support: a Cannabis Business Micro-grant Program, a Local Equity Program, and a Marketing and Promotion Program.
The Micro-grant Program “provides cannabis businesses an opportunity to apply for funding to cover business related expenditures,” according to the county, while the Local Equity Program “provides resources to local communities and individuals who have been impacted by the War on Drugs.”
The Marketing Program is “designed to promote and maintain Humboldt grown cannabis as a national and industry brand.”
Passed two years after California voters legalized recreational marijuana, the California Cannabis Equity Act was seen as a way to bring illicit cultivators and sellers out of the shadows and into the regulated market.
Democratic state Senator Steven Bradford said at the time that the bill “recognizes the failed efforts of the War on Drugs, but more importantly, it highlights the disproportionate devastation cannabis criminalization has had on communities and helps address the harms by reducing barriers to licensure and increasing opportunities for employment.”
Humboldt County has, for decades, been a cradle of marijuana production in the United States. Along with Mendocino and Trinity counties, it forms the “Emerald Triangle,” long considered the country’s largest cannabis producing region.